Sunday, 27 May 2012

Great Ouse Odonata Survey

Heading east from Great Barford along the northern bank of the Great Ouse, nearly to the Ivel confluence, I covered four 1km squares, seeing very few butterflies but a good range of Odonata including my first Scarce Chasers of the year. (All my records are in Living Record if you want to see them mapped).

Scarce Chaser: Eight seen today. (I rescued two - one trapped in long grass and the other in a cobweb). These have a limited range in Beds - how far up the Great Ouse do they go? Now is the right time to find out...

Large Red Damselfly tucking into a mayfly:

Female Banded Demoiselle flexing her wings:

Male Banded Demoiselle a little further along the same barbed wire:

It's only when you get in close with a flash that you realise just how hairy Banded Demoiselle heads are!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Bubble-blowing Bug

A couple of close-ups of Hairy Shieldbugs (Dolycoris baccarum) at Mowsbury Hill LNR this evening, including one blowing bubbles!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Moth Beauty

It's not just the butterflies that are beautiful - there are attractive day-flying moths too. Small Yellow Underwing at Sewell Cutting; Pyrausta purpuralis and Pyrausta aurata at Sandhouse Lane NR; Cinnabar at Houghton Regis Quarry...

Butterfly Beauty

Some pretty snaps of spring butterflies: Green Hairstreak and Small Blue at Houghton Regis Quarry; Orange Tip and Dingy Skipper at Sewell Cutting today...

Brimstone Egg

A Brimstone egg laid on the tip of Buckthorn regrowth at Sewell Cutting. Finding these is easy if you see them being laid!

Downy Emerald

This Downy Emerald was at Sandhouse Lane NR today, repeatedly returning to pose attractively on the larch near the gate to the ex-coating plant.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Stacking Up

At least on these cold dank days things move around less. Decided to give focus stacking another go on this weevil at Dog Field, Cople. This time, using a monopod, I tried to adjust the focal point myself with the lens, rather than falling forwards, as I realised that method changed the viewpoint slightly for each shot. Also had to use a flash on each shot as it was very gloomy which accounts for the rather poorer quality - I've yet to master macro flash.

This is the result from eight frames stacked using CombineZP on its default settings as I don't know what I'm doing yet. A slightly better result than the last attempt, with no obvious out-of-focus bands, however the weevil moved its near antenna at some point in the sequence. (Never work with children and animals...).


As we are apparently in the middle of national "Be Nice to Nettles Week", which lasts for 11 days (how does that work?), I decided to rip up a clump that has grown in the wrong place, underneath my apple tree. (Don't worry I've left lots more). Underneath I was surprised to discover the shrivelled remains of two Morels. In googling I found that some species are associated with dying apples. I hope that isn't a sign!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Good day for snails

It seemed to be perfect weather for snails this afternoon, being cool, overcast and damp. At Mowsbury Hill every occupied shell seemed to be on the move...

This one though seemed to have suffered a trauma with its smashed shell, and a glow worm larva feasting on the contents. I don't recall having seen glow worms there before - must visit on a summer's evening to see the adults...

Don't try this at home

I've posted pictures of bees sleeping by clamping onto foliage with their mandibles before. This male (13-antennal segments) Nomada was taking the opportunity to give itself a cleaning while waiting for the sun, which never showed (yet again!) today at Mowsbury Hill LNR in Bedford. You can see one of the mandibles actually goes right through the field maple leaf.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Xanthogramma citrofasciatum

This rather smart hoverfly was present in the north east corner of Rookery Pit north today, kindly confirmed as Xanthogramma citrofasciatum by John O'Sullivan who added that it was only the 6th county record since 1980, and that he had never seen a live specimen yet himself.

First Damselflies

My first damselflies of the year were today, at Rookery Pit on the path by the railway. As well as Blue-tailed and Common there were several Large Red, seen here with a Blue-tailed...

Saturday, 12 May 2012


I found this on an interpretation board somewhere in the county. See if you can find it...

(For those that aren't sure, it's a Red Admiral not a Peacock)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Brimstone Moth

Was just going to bed when I spotted this Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luleolata) through the kitchen door, attracted to the light. Bouncing the flash off the glass allowed the underside to be nicely illuminated too, the reflection adding another dimension to the photos...

Green Carpet

Flushed this rather nice male Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) several times near the motte of Totternhoe Castle today. Very difficult to approach closely - glad of the extra reach of the 200mm macro lens to finally grab a few shots.

Woundwort Shieldbug

Nice to see Woundwort Shieldbug (Eysarcoris fabricii) on Totternhoe Knolls today, near to Hedge Woundwort unsurprisingly:

Weevil Eye

Plenty of weevils on nettles at the moment...

Focus Stacking

Shortly after my last post about macro depth-of-field I stumbled across a technique called "Focus Stacking" in which a sequence of photos with slightly different focus points are combined via software to create an image with an impossibly large depth of field. Today I found myself staring a weevil in the eye and decided to give it a try. I simply focussed just short of the snout then let the camera's continuous shooting take 11 shots as I slowly fell forwards. I fed the images into the freeware CombineZP and the following is the result. Clearly there are out of focus bands where I moved a bit too quickly but the result is quite impressive for a first hand-held attempt! Click on the photo to see that it is mostly in focus from the tip of the snout to the leaf behind.