August 2016 was fairly dry, sunny and reasonably warm. The Garden’s wildlife list increased by no fewer than 21 species, from 826 to 847.
Birds Like July, bird recording in the Botanics was difficult in August because so many of the smaller species were silent and in hiding after the breeding season. Only thirty species were recorded during the month, one fewer than in July. Sparrowhawks were very obvious throughout the first half of the month but around 16th the young birds must have dispersed beyond the Garden seeking new territories as there were no records after that date. Grey Herons were seen on eleven dates, with sometimes two birds perched in the shrubs on the north edge of the Pond. A Cormorant flew over the Garden on 16th and Jackdaws were present on 8th. The complete list of 30 species recorded during August was: Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Cormorant, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Robin, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove, Tree Creeper, Wood Pigeon, Wren.
Insects and other invertebrates: August was somewhat better than June and July for butterfly records in the Garden. The most commonly seen butterfly was Small White (on at least six days throughout the month), with its relative the Green-veined White being recorded four times between 1st and 9th. Small Tortoiseshell (9th and 15th), Red Admiral and Painted Lady (both on 17th and 24th) were each recorded twice. One or both of the Garden’s two Skinner moth traps were used on four nights and yielded a plethora of records. A minimum of forty species were trapped, with 13 of these being new records for the Garden: Scalloped Oak (5th), Garden Dart (10th), Maple Button, Flounced Rustic, Mother of Pearl and Copper Underwing (all 24th), Marbled Beauty (25th), Honeysuckle Moth, Broad-bordered Underwing, Mouse Moth and White-line Dart (all on 30th), Tawny Speckled Pug and July Highflyer (both on 31st). A few species are still awaiting identification so the list of new Garden records could grow further. Also among the moths trapped was an adult caddisfly, provisionally identified as Polycentropus flavomaculatus, a new Garden record and also the first time any caddisfly has been identified in the Garden — see separate post at http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/22088. Wool Carder Bees were again recorded throughout the month, and Tree Bumblebee on three occasions. Field Digger Wasps were present around the new alpine house almost throughout the month, the last record being on 26th. As in July, Common Darter dragonfly was seen once, this time near the alpine yard on 31st. Ten hoverfly species were recorded in August, with numbers of some species picking up somewhat, although still fewer than in several recent years, particularly in the case of species like Marmalade Hoverfly. The fly Dexiosoma caninum (four dates between 9th and 23rd) was a new Garden record, and two different crane-fly species were recorded. The mines of twenty leaf-mining fly species were found, two of them (Liriomyza congesta on 2nd, Phytomyza leucanthemi on 16th) being new Garden records. Birch, Forest, Gorse, Hawthorn and Parent Shield-bugs were all seen, as well as Common Flower Bug, Common Green Capsid and several other bug species. Leafhoppers, however, were thin on the ground (and the leaves!) with only one species recorded. Larch Woolly Aphid was a new Garden record that will probably not be welcomed. Figwort Weevil (various dates, 2nd–24th) and Devil’s Coach Horse (4th) were both added to the Garden’s list of beetles for the first time but only one species of ladybird was spotted during the month, and the Common Red Soldier Beetles that were seen frequently in July were absent during August. The springtail Orchesella cincta was August’s final new Garden record. A female harvestman of the species Leiobunum rotundum was once again seen (3rd). A Brown-lipped Snail (Cepaea nemoralis) was the first of that genus recorded in the Garden to species level although ‘Cepaea sp.’ was recorded in the BioBlitz three years ago in 2013.