Pete Eeles

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Brian Arnold
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Brian Arnold » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:04 pm

Pete, Being local to me, the date for your talk in March is already in my diary. Looking forward to it and I am sure it will be very interesting no matter what you decide to talk about. Regards, Brian

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:26 pm

Thanks all - as you know Brian, since I'll be out of the country, I'll have to postpone my talk for now :(

Back to Pamber
On a brighter note, I spent Sunday morning showing Matthew Oates the White Admiral larvae I've been monitoring, and I think between Padfield, Bugboy and myself, we're starting to build up quite an interesting picture of this species! Unfortunately, Sunday was (relatively) the "calm after the storm" and it was still fairly breezy, so I didn't manage to get a single photo worth keeping; Matthew did a lot better than me on this front! At peak, I was monitoring 26 larvae. They are now down to 5 since 4 have been lost due to the works going on in the forest which, to be frank, is my own fault since I was told that there would be habitat management in my study area! Having said that, I know that this management is why Pamber is one of the best forests in the country for White Admiral!

Anyway - I took the decision to return today to get photos of the remaining larvae (below). Despite a good search, by both myself and Matthew, no additional hibernacula (with one possible exception) have been found. In fact, the honeysuckle looks pretty barren when it comes to anything but new shoots; the vast majority of last year's leaves have been blown away.

IMG_6471.jpg
Larva 5a

IMG_6478.jpg
Larva 5b - 1

IMG_6480.jpg
Larva 5b - 1 (with a face that only a mother could love)

IMG_6482.jpg
Larva 5b - 2 (in silhouette)

IMG_6485.jpg
Larva 6


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby bugboy » Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:31 pm

Nice pictures Pete, its interesting how exposed the often are even when they have somewhere to hide away.
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Wurzel » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:46 pm

It all looks so fragile it's a wonder sometimes that any survive :? Interesting stuff Pete looking forward to more.

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Fri Mar 11, 2016 8:12 pm

Thanks chaps!

A Postcard from Mexico

I've been working in Mexico City this week and, thanks to a cancelled meeting, had yesterday free - so decided to take a punt, hire a car, and drive to the Monarch reserves some 140 miles from the hotel. The weather had been extremely stormy and cold from Tuesday night, and I'd been keeping a close eye on the weather reports. Even though the forecast was for cold weather, I still couldn't miss the opportunity to see the spectacle of millions of Monarchs, even if they weren't likely to be flying in any numbers.

Driving in Mexico City isn't for the faint-hearted, but I managed to escape the city (eventually!) and get onto route 15, heading west toward Zitacuaro, from where I'd drive through San Felipe, then Ocampo, then up to El Rosario reserve, which holds the largest populations. The drive along route 15 was interesting to say the least, with more police cars than public, and plenty of guns on show. Fortunately, I didn't come across any banditos :) Although I did see a few Mexicans that definitely fitted the stereotype, sombrero and all.

Now - if you think you're having a bad day, then this was mine, and it might make you feel a little better :) As I neared more rural areas just outside Zitacuaro, I was met with sleet, snow and hailstorms! Not quite the Mexican weather I was expecting. Around 20 miles from the reserve, just before you get into Zitacuaro, the road was blocked by numerous trees that had been blown down in the storms. Despite several "crews" working with axes and saws, I had only moved 100 feet in 4 hours. With time running out, I had no choice but to turn around and drive back to the city. This was my view the whole time:

IMG_2180.jpg


Today I received a text from Mark Colvin - pointing me at this article: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/s ... 31116.html

Quite depressing reading and, to be frank, I'm somewhat-relieved that I didn't get to see such as potentially-tragic sight. And it certainly put my own disappointment into perspective. I hope the Monarchs are able to recover and make it north.

Anyway, I've vowed to return the next time I end up in this part of the world during our winter!

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby David M » Fri Mar 11, 2016 8:47 pm

Depressing stuff, Pete. I admire your fortitude in trying to get to the location and such a shame you weren't rewarded.

The link makes for awful reading. Seeing these beautiful creatures frozen like that makes one wonder how they can survive, but as ever, they DO survive, and all it might take is one particularly benign winter to restore their numbers to a more normal level.

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Goldie M » Sat Mar 12, 2016 12:21 pm

Oh Pete, so sorry you didn't make it, :( I hope that some of the Butterflies did, I'll be watching now for further information about them, so sad. Goldie :(

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Wurzel » Sat Mar 12, 2016 10:35 pm

Sorry you didn't get to see the Monarchs Pete :( Hopefully they'll bounce back :?

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Mar 20, 2016 2:14 pm

Thanks David, Goldie, Wurzel!

Home Doings
Glad to be back home and had an enjoyable Thursday (17th) morning in the company of Andy Bolton, looking for Purple Hairstreak eggs on the south-facing branches of oaks at his uncle's farm in Axmansford. After a slow start, we managed to notch up 11 eggs in total over the course of an hour or so, which have now been tagged and will be monitored through the season. We also found one that had been predated, with a gaping hole next to the micropyle. We also saw half a dozen Brimstone while there, and a Small Tortoiseshell sunning itself at Andy's house. I then popped over to Pamber Forest, where the White Admiral larvae have yet to move from their hibernacula. However, I did see a Comma out and about, bringing my current tally for the year to 3 species - all seen today!

IMG_6742.jpg
Andy in action!

Purple Hairstreak - ovum - Axmansford - 17-Mar-16.jpg
Predated Purple Hairstreak ovum

IMG_6515.jpg
Brimstone male soaking up the sun


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Padfield » Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:18 pm

Glad you're finding plenty of purple hairstreak eggs, Pete. These have been increasingly thin on the ground out here in recent years.

Just out of interest, why do you say that hole is predation rather than parasitism? I'm not questioning your judgment :D - it just means I've been getting that wrong!

Guy
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:29 pm

To be honest, Guy, I would need to research the distinction between predator, parasite and parasitoid (no doubt!). My minimal research seems to suggest that it depends on the number of victims - 1 or many; since I don't know what caused this, it's hard to say! If you come up with any good references, I'd be interested in knowing.

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Padfield » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:36 pm

I would have said it depends on whether something came out of that hole or went into it! :D For some reason, when I've found these in the past I've assumed the egg had been parasitised and something had come out. I found quite a lot in 2010 in particular - the bumper quercus year that preceded the more recent decline. Here's one of them - quite similar to yours, except a lousy photo!!

Image

I, too, would be interested to know the truth about these holes.

Guy
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby bugboy » Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:25 pm

I believe the basic difference between a Parasite and a parasitoid is that a parasite doesn't kill its host eg. tapeworms, fleas etc. whereas Parasitoids do ultimately kill the host in order to complete their life cycle.

I'm not 100% sure where 'predator' fits in but my gut feeling is that it is a broader term that could include both the other two terms.
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:16 pm

The Dawn of a New Spring

With spring a springing, I checked up on a couple of Large Skipper larvae I'm following through the winter (in captivity), and both are doing absolutely fine. Larva 1 had only just emerged from its hibernaculum, but larva 2 had already emerged, created a new feeding tube, and was avidly feeding away (well, after I sat and waited for it to appear from the tube after ... 3 hours!). As ever, sights I've never seen before, so extremely rewarding.

IMG_6602.jpg
Larva 1 hibernaculum

IMG_6598.jpg
Larva 1

IMG_6607.jpg
Larva 2


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Wurzel » Sun Apr 03, 2016 3:57 pm

Glad you got the reward you were definitely due it after a three hour wait!

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:42 pm

Thanks Wurzel! It's been a while since I posted anything of my own, so thought I'd provide a brief update.

First off, there is a water catchment area about 50 yards from my house (as the crow flies) and every year the council clears it of the grasses that tend to clog up the drainage system. And so, every year, I gather up whatever stems look promising since this tiny area is home to both Small and Essex Skippers (as well as Common Blue, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown). I've put the few stems containing Small Skipper larval cocoons back where I found them, but was pleased to see that one batch were still eggs - and therefore Essex Skipper, with the larvae ready to hatch out! I would have loved to have reared them on, but am having to restrict what I do this year given the limited time I have available. So here's my parting shot before they, too, were released back.

IMG_6680.jpg
Essex Skipper ova


I was also in Houston, Texas, last week which was pretty uninteresting, apart from the deluge on Monday 18th when over 14 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, breaking all records. Various parts of Houston were flooded out and several people lost their lives. All very tragic. I took some solace in the butterfly exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences - a giant dome with at least 25 species flying, including the Zebra (called the Mosaic there), Colobura dirce, which is on the British list!

Colobura dirce-5.jpg
Zebra

Colobura dirce.jpg
Zebra

Morpho peleides.jpg
Blue Morpho

Papilio memnon.jpg
Great Mormon (female)


And finally, I've been spending a fair amount of time in Scotland, and am back up again this week ... and am taking every opportunity to re-engage with the Chequered Skipper larvae I was following last year. I've been reading Neil Ravenscroft's PhD Thesis on this species, and have decided to refocus on validating some of this findings, illustrated with photographic evidence. All I can say is "watch this space"; a detailed report of my findings is already in the works and will be published after this year's Chequered Skipper flight period :)

[Edit]And here's my first Holly Blue of the season. Seen in my garden, yesterday - possibly on the ivy on which it fed as a larva!

IMG_6761.jpg


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby essexbuzzard » Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:35 pm

Good luck with the caterpillar searching,Pete! Certainly some great images from Glasdrum last autumn at a time the rest of us never see it- it looks so different. The cats must take some finding,you're patience deserves to be rewarded- hopefully with some images!

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Goldie M » Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:54 pm

The bad weather seems to have followed you from Mexico Pete :D Did you ever find out how the Monarch's survived the Snow Storm when you were there, :?: I was reading that the logging that goes on there is causing the cold air in Winter to reach them so their not protected like they used to be. Goldie :)

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pauline » Tue Apr 26, 2016 5:40 am

Really interesting shot of the Essex eggs Pete - it is a pity you don't have the time to rear them but perhaps another time.

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun May 01, 2016 5:07 pm

Thanks Mark - everything is going to plan ... it just takes a considerable amount of effort to monitor a species that is 495 miles from home :)
Thanks Goldie - the news regarding the Monarchs appears mixed - some suggesting that locals are downplaying the impact in case it impacts tourism, for example.
Thanks Pauline - I thought I'd practice what I preach ... the butterflies have to come first.

Aldermaston Gravel Pits
Today was my first chance to visit my local Orange-tip hotspot, and I'm glad I did. 7 males were seen between 2pm and 3pm (with some possible duplicates) together with a single male Green-veined White. Also a single Orange-tip egg, which was really pleasing to see - since it must have been laid a while ago since it was all oranged-up :) It also allowed me to dust of my Canon MP-E macro lens :)

IMG_6837.jpg
Orange-tip egg


Cheers,

- Pete


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