Sunday, 30 June 2013

Beautiful Flies and a Snail Eating Beetle.

Criorhina floccosa - East Bridgford, Notts 25th June 2013. 
Three stonking species of fly in the last couple of days along the River at East Bridgford, non of them rare but beautiful all the same and with interesting life styles.  First photograph is of the bee mimic Criorhina floccosa. I find these at East Bridgford most summers but only one or two a year.  Larvae apparently live in damp tree boles. 

Volucella bombylans - East Bridgford June 2013
Another Bee mimic is shown in the second photograph of Volucella bombylans.  Now the female of this fly lays its eggs in the nests of wasps. The larvae then feed on nest debris.  It's thought that when the fly enters the nest invariably gets attacked by the rightful occupants.  The flies response upon being stung is to egg lay. Pretty good evolutionary response if you ask me.

Volucella pellucens - East Bridgford June 2013 
Finnal fly of this weeks triumvirate is the common and large Volucella pellucens.  Pretty common if you search flowerheads of Hogweed,  I even had one in my garden this week on Dog daisy. There are also a couple of other big Volucella species around this part of Nottinghamshire. The wasp mimic, Volucella inanis, pictures of which are on my flickr site and Volucella zonaria, one of the UK's largest flies which always makes me think that a hornet has flown past, they are that large, even copying the flight style of them. 

My Son plays cricket at one of the most beautiful grounds in England, Thurgarton Priory. On saturday (29th June) he told me to bring the camera down as he had found the lovely and distinctive carabid beetle Cychrus caraboides, along snouted carabid designed to get its mandibles into snails.  When you pick this chap up it makes a rather loud stridulatory noise. I'm not actually too sure which parts of it body it rubs together, I think its the elytra (the hardened wings of beetles that give them their distinctive appearance) and parts of the insects abdomen.  Apparently emits soundwaves of up to 80kHz. 

Cychrus caraboides - Thurgarton Priory 29th June 2013. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Last of the Mason Bees and Bombus hypnorum

Carlton Notts June 2013
Bombus hypnorum, Carlton Notts. 
20th June and I still have Red Mason Bee activity.  This is the latest and longest that i have recorded them for on my Bee Log.  First emergence April 20th.  Although that was 3 weeks later than 2012 the Bees have certainly made up for late emergence with the amount of holes filled in the garden.  This years total is in excess of 50.  I also have a colony of the Tree Bumble Bee Bombus Hypnorum. In late 2011 I installed a Robin Box on the trellis behind a clump of honeysuckle,  Spring 2012, nothing.  Winter 2012 Nest box full of clematis seeds and a family of Wood mice had taken residence. Fair enough no Robin but I can live with wood mice, their big eyes make me have a soft spot for them.  However they've moved on and the mouse nest has no been taken over by the Bees.  If you're not familiar with hypnorum that's no surprise they are a recent colonist to the UK and particularly like nesting in tree holes or tit boxes.  Lovely bee and in my opinion a nice addition to our fauna.  Interestingly this bee has been spreading across europe and now even found in Iceland!  I've also had a good run of the Wasp Beetle, recording 4 specimens at once on my Dog Daisies.  Bottom photograph shows single specimen feeding. They're always a cracking sight, I never get tired of seeing them, in fact I'm that sad I take a direct course to my flowers when I get home from work just to  check them out. 

Wasp Beetle - Clytus arietus Carlton, Notts, June 16th 2013


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Bird Poo Mimic & Privet Hawk Moth

Privet Hawk Moth - Gedling 19th June 2013
 My Year 10 lads did me proud once more,  last week they put me onto a Puss Moth in the school grounds, this week even more excitement with a Privet Hawk Moth on my lab window.  I get one of these each year hanging around but there's little privet or lilac about.

Platyrhinus resinosus - East Bridgford Notts 19th June 2013
Went for a walk along the Trent again this evening.  Not alot about, but I did find a nice beetle, Platyrhinusresinosus, this beetle is considered to be uncommon, but along the Trent they are pretty common.  It's also thought to resemble a bit of bird faeces.  White at both ends with a grey black rippling onthe body.  It's not to bothered about hiding itself either and can quite often be found just sitting around on fallen ash Logs.  The larvae are thought to feed on Daldinia concentrica, better known as the black fungus "King Alfreds Cakes" which is to be found on Ash.   If you pick them up they without fail give you a slow firm nip.

Monday, 17 June 2013

More Orchids - Twayblade and Common Spotted's

Twayblade - Holme Pierrepont 17th June 2013 
I've been wandering around Holme Pierrepont for many years and I'm pretty confident that I've got a good eye for what's around both in terms of flora and fauna, however it took a tip-off from one of my son's old school friends (thanks Holly) to put me onto a small patch of Twayblade.  Supposedly a pretty common orchid it is rather unobtrusive hence I've missed it for several years.  Still a photograph is shown of the flower, one for the connoisseurs I think. Apparently pollinated by solitary wasps! 

Common Spotted Orchid Holme Pierrepont. 
do however include a photograph of Common Spotted Orchid. A far prettier flower and reasonably abundant if you know where to look.  They're definitely having a good year this year and looking strong and healthy, the cold spring if anything has led to a better display than I've seen for a good few years.  

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Flaming June: orchids, moths, beetles.

Southern Marsh Orchid, Holme Pierrepont June 2013 
I've had a busy couple of weeks, Pupils sitting exams, extra lessons on Saturday's evening revision sessions with my neice and running my son around to cricket matches every weekend.  Therefore my own trips out into the Nottinghamshire countryside have been all too brief. Monday night and a trip along the river at East Bridgford.  Highlight was watching the resident Barn Owl cleaning itself then taking off and catching a vole within about 150 metres of its perch. Later in the week and a little evening sunshine saw me down Holme Pierrepont.  A low flying raptor in the distance being mocked by crows, left me a little confused,  couldn't work out whether I'd seen a Red Kite or Marsh Harrier as the light levels were to low and the beast wasn't high enough for a good sillouette.  I can however safely say it was no Buzzard. Only reasonable Photograph was of Southern Marsh Orchid, looking pretty good at the moment.  I tried a few Common Blues but the light was going quick so they aren't sharp.  

Puss Moth Gedling June 2013

Thursday at School and my year 10 lads came to see me at break in a rather excited frame of mind.  They'd found the biggest moth they'd ever seen.  It turned out to be a beautiful Puss Moth.  Showed it to a few kids in the afternoon, put it in a tub, brought it home for a few snaps and then released it.  There are plenty of Sallows in the vicinity of my house so I'm happy its in a decent spot.
Puss Moth Gedling June 2013 

Finally a decent beetle to talk about, Ptinomorphus imperialis, a pretty impressive name for a small brown job.  A member of the Anobidae commonly known as woodworm this beetle is regarded as nationally scarce and are believed to live on moribund hawthorn. I was then rather surprised when my son found one on the bamboo plant growing outside my back door.  It's a pretty little thing that grows to about 5mm, so easily overlooked. 

Ptinomorphus imperialis - Carlton June 2013