Sunday, 29 September 2013

Late Season Pompilid Wasp

Spider Wasp with prey, Budby Heath 29th September 2013 
End of September and there are still insects of interest doing the business up on Budby heath.  On the 28th September Tiger Beetles are still active and in reasonable numbers. I'm of the opinion that these represent a 2nd generation given the continuous warm weather from April.  Most of the Hymenoptera have gone, there are still odd Colletes Bees foraging on what's left of the Heather although little is now left in flower.  I was however delighted to watch a late season Spider wasp.  These wasps, without taking a specimen, are rather difficult to identify to species level so I'm leaving the description as to the wasp as in the genus Evagetes or Arachnospila.   However, whatever it is they are rather interesting to watch dragging the paralysed spider around, disappearing to find an old burrow, returning to check on its prey and then off again.   Not a lot else around so late in the year but I did manage to get a couple of nice shots of a Common Darter.  They are always a little more obliging late in the season, probably not as much energy in them so are more likely to hang a round for a bit. Hope you like them, they make a nice large subject. 

Common Darter Budby Heath 29th September 2013. 

Common Darter Budby Heath 29th September 2013. 

Garden Spider

Didn't even have to leave the house to take this photograph of the garden spider Araneus diadematus. Opening the back door revealed this fine lady with a recently captured common wasp, Vespa vulgaris.   I find spiders quite difficult to photograph, they are deep in the body so depth of field becomes a real problem. They are surprisingly sensitive to movement and get themselves into rather boring poses that do not make interesting snaps.  However hope you like this one, most gardens should have one or two of these at the moment.  Needless to say the wasp well and truly lost, had its life sucked out of it and two days later its corpse was disentangled from the web and lying on the doorstep.  

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Harvest Mouse.

Bit chuffed with this photograph.  My son had a few of these at work as a part of an ongoing breeding programme where the youngsters are released into suitable habitat. I couldn't resist the chance to take a snap or two. Result shown below.  The nice part on my behalf is that this photograph is now being used to illustrate the BBC Nature Harvest Mouse Page.  Feel rather good about it. I bet it gets a few more views there than on this blog.  Hope you like them their fantastic little beasts about the size of a man's thumb form his knuckle. 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Bonus Day - Beetles Butterflies and Bees

Handkea utriformis - Budby Heath 22nd September 2013
A pretty impressive day for the end of September and one that I hadn't quite expected after the coolness of earlier in the week. I even sneaked the central heating on last weekend under the pretence of making sure all was working well, when really I was being a little nesh (if you're not from the English midlands and further north, nesh means "susceptible to the cold").  However a late season trip to Budby Heath was order of the day. Plenty of insect action, although nothing in great numbers, there was even an Ammophila sabulosa nest digging (see earlier post) and several Spider wasps still active.  Hornets were also buzzing a patch of golden rod looking for flies, they appear never to take a rest and must spend an awful lot of energy whilst hunting.  Turning over a log revealed a couple of Carabus problematicus, whilst I found two dead, but perfect Carabus nemoralis on the path.  
These are now in my reference collection. I never quite understand why I find this species quite regularly, dead or dying on the paths at Sherwood and also at Holme Pierrepont.

Carabus problematicus  - Budby Heath 22nd September 2013 

After the walk a quick pint at the Red Lion Wellow.  Pretty good for butterflies as Comma and Red Admiral were both attracted to ripe plums that had fallen onto a bench. Photographs show one of the Admirals feeding.  

Vanessa atalanta  feeding on Victoria Plum Olde Red Lion, Wellow 22nd September 2013

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Beewolf - Philanthus triangulum in Nottinghamshire.

Distribution Map for the Beewolf
The Royal Entomological Society handbook describing this species published in 1980 indicates the presence of a fluctuating population on the extreme south coast of England, with permanent colonies existing only on the Isle of Wight. However since this publication this stunning wasp has undergone a rapid and northerly expansion in range with records as far north as Yorkshire.  In Nottinghamshire the first record I can find is for 1996 when Trevor Pendleton found a small colony at Market Warsop.  My first encounter was a little fortuitous and in 2011.  I had been photographing several solitary wasps thinking they were either Mellinus arvensis or Cerceris rybyensis, both common at Holme Pierrepont. Only when I got home and looked at what I'd taken did I realise that one of the pictures was of Philanthus triangulum, the Beewolf.    It was not until my recent forays to Budby Heath that I've found it again.  This time on several occassions, however I have still not found where they make their burrows.  That'll give me something to do next year.    A bit of Biology, best month to see them August.   They make a hole approximately 1m in depth and provision this with Honeybee's that they capture paralyse and carry back to the nest. On the continent they are considered serious pests of hive colonies.  If you want to see them I suggest any site with decent honey bee numbers with suitable sandy habitat, so probably in and around sherwood.  The Holme Pierrepont example I saw in 2011 was on the site of the old gravel and sand yard.
Beewolf - Budby Heath Nottinghamshire 29th August 2013