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Sam Carr
Hertfordshire, England
Interests: Technology, nature, photography, sport
Recent Activity
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You might recall back in October 2013 Steph from Worcester sent in pictures of her 'pet' Pale tussock moth caterpillars. As we left the story, they had cocooned, but now many months later they have emerged. And don't they look lovely. In the bottom right picture, just to the right of the moth, you'll see what looks very much like the 'silver-brain slime mould' (my choice of words) that I've covered once before. Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2014 at UK Nature Blog
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Wow it's been a strange winter - very wet, though I'm glad to say I live on high ground, but remarkably warm overall. I only remember a few mild frosts and the temperature has been in the mid teens for the last couple of weeks. My garden seems to be well ahead of the game compared to last year and I have some things that have just kept on flowering through the winter. I expect a harsh frost to descend in April and kill everything. But apart from that, here are some things I've noticed recently: The blossom is out... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2014 at UK Nature Blog
ToffeeApple - Really? I've never heard of harvestmen attacking spiders, though supposedly they are omnivores and will eat pretty much anything. I'd love to see a picture if you can get one.
Toggle Commented Feb 24, 2014 on Odds and sods at UK Nature Blog
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Apart from all the rain it's seemed a very warm winter, at least here in middle England. The snowdrops are not pushing up through snow, but into sunny 10c+ days. These examples are at Anglesey Abbey - worth visiting at this time of year for the winter gardens alone. The rest's great too. Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2014 at UK Nature Blog
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We welcome this guest post by Mr McGregor who has been working in the garden industry for over 27 years. He is a gardening enthusiast who also loves to grow his own fruit and veg, and regularly shares his opinions and advice on many gardening blogs. Wildlife plays a vital role in the garden; bees help to pollinate plants while some insects can help to discourage predators that can damage flowers from entering your garden. You may automatically think that bugs are pests and are be something you should control, but in reality these insects are imperative to your garden’s... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2014 at UK Nature Blog
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Howard sent this picture, wondering whether it was a walnut orb weaver, or a melanic garden spider. My dictionary describes melanic as "unusual darkening of body tissues caused by excessive production of melanin, esp. as a form of color variation in animals" in case the word is new to you. I'm sure he's right that it's a melanic garden spider (araneus diadematus) thanks to the classic cross of white blobs on its back. It's also a great close up photo. Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2014 at UK Nature Blog
Time to come out of hibernation! Here is a random assortment of things: Did you know that Harvestmen (Opiliones) cluster together in a dense mass? Neither did I, but there are some great videos out there. People tend to name them incorrectly as spiders mind you. Note that Americans call them Daddy Long Legs, but we use that name for Crane Flies mostly. If you missed WinterWatch on the BCC over the last week, it's all available online, incluing "Live: Winterwatch at the Big Garden Birdwatch" throughout this weekend. I wish someone would invent a bird feeder that's impervious to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2014 at UK Nature Blog
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These should keep the birds going for a while, along with the orange ones on the pyracantha. The blackbirds always seem to start at the top and gradually strip the plant towards the ground, presumably because it's safer higher up. Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2013 at UK Nature Blog
Not very often, to be honest. A couple a year probably, maximum.
Toggle Commented Nov 6, 2013 on A striking autumn Ichneumon wasp at UK Nature Blog
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This strikingly beautiful wasp appeared as I worked in the garden, perhaps disturbed by my activity. I'm confident it is Pimpla rufipes, common in the autumn and fairly widespread. It doesn't have the enormously long ovipositor (pointy bit at the end of a female, for laying eggs) that some ichneumon wasps do. See my previous ichneumon post for a cracking example of that. Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2013 at UK Nature Blog
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A classic example of the "fly agaric" (properly Amanita muscaria) looking lovely on a golf course. It's poisonous and psychoactive, so don't even think about eating it. Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2013 at UK Nature Blog
Nice! Great info - thanks.
Toggle Commented Nov 4, 2013 on Snail / slug eggs at UK Nature Blog
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I wondered the same, but I couldn't actually find an example that looked like this.
Toggle Commented Oct 28, 2013 on Unknown cave bug at UK Nature Blog
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Sorry - I have no idea. I would look at the logger config file and see if you can specify a different log level for the relevant fully qualified class name, or something like that. I haven't used this stuff for a couple of years so I'm guessing.
Toggle Commented Oct 28, 2013 on Grails custom exception mapping at Always The Critic
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Paul sends in this shot of a mystery beastie, photographed in a small cave in the north east of England. He describes it as follows. "At first glance it looks like a cricket but lacks the hind legs etc. Its antennae bend backwards and it has two long appendages from the rear." I can't figure out what it is, having searched the interwebs long and hard. Some sort of bristletail, or a larva of some sort? What's most annoying is that I swear I've seen such a thing before, but I can't bring it to mind. I bet there's someone... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2013 at UK Nature Blog
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Thanks to Glyn, who sent in this picture of mystery eggs found in his garden, in a wet, cool spot under a concrete slab. They are in fact snail or slug eggs - I have no idea if it's possible to tell the difference easily. Presumably fairly big ones though. Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2013 at UK Nature Blog
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Thanks to Steph in Worcester, who sends in some pictures of the two caterpillars she found on some leaves in her garden, which she identified as Pale tussock moth caterpillars. She says: I kept them in jam jars with ventilation and fed them apple tree leaves. They have now both cocooned and I would like the share the pictures with you. Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2013 at UK Nature Blog
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a National Trust 'Uncovered' weekend at Sheringham Park in Norfolk. They have two more coming up at different locations, which sound like they're very worth attending if you're anywhere nearby. In their own words: At the Wimpole Estate near Cambridge - on 5-6 October - we'll be holding a weekend to help visitors discover how the farming of our land for food has over time shaped the landscape. Farming and nature are obviously very closely related, and walks/talks during the weekend will cover lots of wildlife-friendly traditional farming practices, like hedge-laying and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2013 at UK Nature Blog
Almost certainly Steatoda family (more than one of which seem to be known as false widows) - just not sure which variety exactly.
Toggle Commented Sep 24, 2013 on Mystery spider at UK Nature Blog
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The Society of Biology is recruiting you (yes you) to help research the lives of UK spiders around the home. You can record sightings online, and there's even an app available for iPhone and Android to make it easy to send in reports and identify species. This is the time of year when male house spiders typically come inside our homes, looking for love. But surprisingly little is known about them. That's where you can help! The BBC also has a great article about the survey, including a quick rundown of common species. It alerted me to the Cardinal spider,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2013 at UK Nature Blog
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The National Trust is in my opinion a national gem. I'm a card carrying member and regularly visit their properties for long family days out in the great outdoors. This coming weekend (14th and 15th September 2013) they are holding a big event at Sheringham Park, near Cromer in Norfolk. It focuses on wildlife, ancient trees and biodiversity within the landscape - and some of their top nature experts will be giving talks and leading walks. Take a look at the full activity schedule. One of the National Trust's experts, Brian Muelaner (Ancient Tree Adviser - I think that's the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2013 at UK Nature Blog
It's amazing the things that happen in nature, and what you see if you just stop and watch for a while. Just the other day I watched butterflies laying eggs on my brassicas, then a wasp checking all the leaves, presumably hunting for caterpillars.
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2013 on Vapourer moth caterpillar at UK Nature Blog
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This strange growth appeared on the end of a log in my small log-pile. A little larger than half a golf ball, it looks like a shiny silver brain, albeit a bit tarnished around the edges. I assumed it was an unusual fungus but a bit of research has me thinking it's actually a slime mould, "the false puffball" (Enteridium lycoperdon) in its reproductive phase. A few days later it was gone, leaving nary a trace, presumably having dispersed its spores. Never having found a slime mould before, and them being somewhat bizarre organisms, I'm a bit stumped as to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2013 at UK Nature Blog
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Pond dipping at the weekend with my daughter, we found a lot of beetles, some large, some small. It turns out there are a lot of species of dving beetle, so I can't be very sure what this fairly large one is, but my best guess is Dytiscus semisulcatus or similar. It's at the surface here, filling up the air bubble under its elytra (wing cases) so that it can dive again. It's about 18mm long and swims powerfully with the rear legs that you can see are swept forwards in the photo above. Interestingly I've only ever found one... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2013 at UK Nature Blog
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Here are some things I've noticed recently. Butterflies, butterflies everywhere. Mostly small whites all over the purple flowers in the garden, and the brassicas of course. Also small tortoiseshells and peacocks. A perfect example above, alighted on my shed. Bumble bees too, including some really big ones. It turns out quite a few live (lived) in my compost heap and make an angry buzzing with their wings when disturbed. Probably red-tailed bumble bees in the heap, according to this great reference page) Garden spiders are starting to make themselves conspicuous, with webs spun across pathways waiting to catch me out... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2013 at UK Nature Blog