Welcome to the LDV NNR ringing blog, this blog is designed to share the experiences, findings and tales from a group of dedicated ringers. We specialise in conservation orientated research projects, largely focusing on wildfowl, waders, owls and birds of conservation concern, in and around the Vale of York NNR's.

NB - Whilst the purpose of this blog was initially designed to cover our nationally important wildfowl ringing activities, it now also features wildlife and work posts, explaining we how manage the NNR for both wildlife and people.

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Thursday, 18 February 2016

16/02/16 - Signs of spring

Last week whilst working on the Common we came across this 7-spot Ladybird nestled amongst one of the Gorse bushes, which is the first individual to be seen this year, presumably drawn out of hibernation by the mid-day sunshine. Over the winter 7-spot Ladybirds are dormant, hiding in dense vegetation, hollow plant stems and under the bark of trees and logs. Emergence in spring depends on winter temperatures but can be as early as mid-February in mild years.

This species is the most familiar ladybird in the UK, and the one that is most frequently encountered, it can be found in a range of habitats wherever its prey, aphids, are found. Both the adults and larvae are voracious predators, making them a gardener’s best friend – devouring more than 5,000 aphids a year! Like their name suggests, they have seven black spots on the red wing cases – three on each wing and a seventh, just behind the head overlapping both the wing cases. The bright colours are a warning to predators that they taste unpleasant, and when threatened they can ‘play’ dead whilst secreting a rather foul smelling fluid from their leg joints.

7-spot Ladybird - Skipwith Common - 10/02

As well as the emergence of ladybirds the first Gorse Shieldbugs had also appeared from hibernation, a total of 21 individuals were counted, presumably also lured out by the brief spell of warm sunshine. This species over winters amongst leaf litter, tucking themselves away from the cold and frost, following hibernation they will then emerge at this time of year and can often be found sunning themselves amongst the Gorse spikes. Gorse Shieldbugs appear in two colour forms, prior to hibernation the adults have distinctive red/purple markings which begin darken as winter approaches, the following year as they begin to mature in spring their colour will then become predominately green. At first glance they could be confused with the Green Shieldbug – but the habitat (usually Gorse and Broom), and the red antennae gives them away.  

Gorse Shieldbug - Skipwith Common - 10/02

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