Tuesday, 31 July 2012

One green bottle, standing on a leaf

Even humble green bottle flies look impressive when you get a close look:

Chrysops relictus - the twin-lobed deerfly

Possibly a male Chrysops relictus, the twin-lobed deerfly. It's the females that bite - their eyes don't meet on the top of the head - so I was safe from this one, on the banks of the Ivel at South Mills.

Fresh Queen Bumblebee

Fresh Queen bumblebees are another season wind-down indicator, a Bombus terrestris in this case. Where did the year go? (I notice that the wing edges look a little frayed already which seems a little odd?)


Another indicator of the advancing season, a harvestman, and I'm still waiting for spring to arrive...!

Turning colours

Subtle colours of bindweed leaves foretelling the change in the seasons.

Say it with Snails

I feel that this ought to be carrying some cheesy text in fancy gold lettering:

A snail sheltering in the trumpet of a bindweed on the banks of the Ivel at South Mills.

Red Admiral Zoo

There are so few butterflies around at the moment that we are now having to keep them behind bars:

Feeding time:

On the banks of the Ivel at South Mills today, the only Nymphalid that I saw all day, and it's the 31st July!!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Glow Worms 2

Revisited Mowsbury Hill to try for better glow-worm pics. Was amazed to find the four females exactly where I'd left them two nights before - how many other insects can you refind in the dark days later? As adult glow worms don't feed they conserve energy by staying put. As they were all still glowing none of them can have mated since Saturday as they then turn their lights out. I didn't see any males around them this evening, which was rather cooler and damper. They only live for a couple of weeks, so hope they lure in some males soon.

Here's the best of tonight's snaps. The second one was really conserving her energy, just lying on her back and waving her lantern around.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Glow Worms

I enjoy a new challenge and tonight's was a lot of fun, trying to work out how to photograph glow worms at Mowsbury. Not yet mastered the technique but I'll have another go and try out some other ideas. One tip I can share though is to take a torch and shine it directly onto the beetle for focusing - the beetle isn't too put out and carries on glowing even though it is being outshone!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sandy Smith NR

The curious sweeping action of the long front legs of this fly wandering back and forth on a dead elm caught my eye at Sandy Smith NR this afternoon. Once snapped the amazing eyes also became evident. A bit a googling suggests it may be a female common cleg Haematopota pluvialis?

Nearby on an umbellifer was a chafer beetle being blown around hampering photography (my excluse for it being blurry). More googling suggests the Welsh Chafer Hoplia philanthus which the NBN Gateway shows has a sparse distribution without any Bedfordshire dots on the map?

In the floor of the pit is an aggregation of Oxybelus uniglumis nests, with flies impaled on the sting arriving frequently, a quick burrow clearance with the front legs and they are quickly stashed.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Comma egg

A Comma fluttering around nettles in my back garden this morning meant only one thing - that I'd done the right thing by not pulling them up! I think that several eggs were laid so I hope to be posting some caterpillar pics unless they fall prey to something...

Monday, 9 July 2012

Comma and Red Admiral

I saw a couple of butterflies today (a notable event this summer) at Begwary Brook NR. Commas are very beautifully marked underneath.

I finally remembered to under-expose when snapping a Red Admiral, which otherwise disappointingly exposes the black as mid-grey.


Spotted a swarm of Honey Bees in a hawthorn bush this afternoon. Having previously been chased by bees from a hive, and aware of how dangerous a swarm caught out in bad weather can be, I approached this situation with extreme caution; rucksack left along the path, handles uppermost ready to be grabbed at pace; hat on head to stop bees getting entangled in remnants of hair (don't laugh) which could send out alarm signals; longest lens on my camera; river nearby to jump into if all else failed!

Initially I watched from a distance to assess the situation. All seemed placid, with single bees leaving and returning and no interest shown in me. Shot some rubbishy snaps in case I couldn't get better. Then very slowly over 70 minutes moved slowly closer, getting ever better pics, while watching very closely for any signs of inquisitiveness or aggitation, at which point I would have backed off and called it a day. In the end I got as close as I dared and never had a single bee investigate me.

I would caution against ever approaching a swarm. I was lucky (and probably foolhardy) on this occasion and got some great shots, but I would always take extreme caution in this situation as next time the bees might be in a very different mood!!!

Where's Wally...?
...behind the lens!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Dichrorampha flavidorsana

A small cloud of these micros was flying around Tansy in my back garden. The new micro-moths book led me to suspect an ID of Dichrorampha petiverella, but when I showed this photo to David Manning he suspected Dichrorampha flavidorsana instead, which he then kindly confirmed via dissection.

This is only the second Beds record for Dichrorampha flavidorsana, the other in 1988 was in the same Bedford town Tetrad as this one!

Liquorice Piercer - Grapholita pallifrontana 3

Botanical records of wild liquorice led me to Dungee Wood RNR today, where near to a small clump I found another Grapholita pallifrontana. This is the fifth Beds 10km in which I've found it in the last three weeks, doubling the UK's extant squares according to the UK BAP document at http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/_speciespages/2299.pdf! Is Bedfordshire in some way special, or hasn't it been looked for very hard?

The list of sites so far is Mowsbury Hill LNR, the disused railway south of Cardington (two 10km sqrs), Sharnbrook Summit NR and now Dungee Wood RNR.

The only site at which I've found liqourice but not the moth, despite visiting twice, is Moleskin, along the bottom of the scarp. Maybe someone else will be more lucky there.

Here's today's:


Missed my Sunday morning lie-in today as the Jubilympics roadshow jogged into town.

Sorry for this off-topic posting- it won't happen again!