Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Red Admiral egg 2

Four days later and the Red Admiral egg is developing nicely - the hairs on the tiny caterpillar inside can just about be seen. The egg is approx 1mm high. (Wish I had a better macro set-up - sorry about the quality).

Monday, 25 April 2011

LRD hunt

Walked the banks of the River Ivel today looking for Large Red Damselflies for the current survey. Found quite a few. Here's an arty view of a female with eyes like Jupiter complete with red spot.

Anthophora plumipes

You need a long straw to drink from comphrey flowers...

Anthophora plumipes carries its own, here in action on the banks of the Rivel Ivel north of Sandy.

Autumn Colours

The copper beech by the river in Blunham is currently in flower and the back-lit colours are stunning!

Location, Location, Location

Last spring a bee hotel that I built on the wall next to my back door went largely unused, but this year competition by Osmia rufa is keen. About 11 holes are already sealed with mud and more nests are being constructed as I type. I had wondered last year if the east-facing nature had put them off, being in shade from about noon, but in this hot April it doesn't bother them at all as they are busy into the evening.

With a mixture of holes sizes some are more desirable than others, these two going head to head over this one. Approx 7mm seems best for this species, but other species may have different preferences.

This one is just moving in, removing a wood shaving that I'd thoughtlessly left inside the hole.

A stack of south-facing logs at the bottom of the garden with 7mm holes drilled in them is also proving popular this year with a total of 13 holes already filled. It only takes a few minutes to make a bee hotel this way - give it a go!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Banded Demoiselle

My first Banded Demoiselles of the year were also at Begwary Brook, this stunning male eventually conceded to be photographed.

Natrix ex-natrix

I would normally be thrilled to see a grass snake this closely, sadly this one had stopped working and started smelling.

There was a suspicious bulge half-way along, presumably its last meal. At Begwary Brook today.

P.S. I reported this to Helen Muir-Howie and she wondered if it had eaten either a Common Toad or a Great Crested Newt, either of which apparently can kill a grass snake.

Red Admiral egg

I found this Red Admiral egg in a large nettle patch at Begwary Brook NR today

Friday, 22 April 2011

Trickier than they look

It's only when you try to photograph some things that you get a better appreciation of them. I'd rather regarded these "longhorn" moths of species Adela reaumurella as being gangly and bumbling, but they actually zip around after each other in a very skilled manner, and can shoot out of the frame faster than I can press the shutter. So it was back to the old "point and hope" technique to capture these images near Old Warden church, the best of a about a hundred:

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Micro cloud

Managed to snap one of a small swarm of micros around a gorse bus at Rowney Warren. The ID, beyond me, was provided by David Manning as Cydia ulicetana who also added that it was a new 10km square for the species which feeds on gorse.

Another first at Rowney Warren

After unstimulating visits in the hot sunshine to Cooper's Hill and Maulden Heath (though I did have a refreshing cat-nap by Tom's Pond!) on returning through Maulden Church Meadow there were Large Red Damselflies emerging from the main pond, my first of the year

Then off to Rowney Warren which has some nice habitats along the SW edge. Another colour form of the Crucifer Shieldbug was prominent on the garlic mustard

Also on the garlic mustard was an Eyed Ladybird (Anatis ocellata) the first I'd seen for a long time

A queen Bombus hortorum was busy gathering food and materials for her nest

Just when I was thinking that I wasn't going to see anything new today I stumbled across a spectacular Corizus hyoscyami on the way back to the car park.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Rhopalus subrufus

A rather nice-looking bug, also at Rowney Warren, Rhopalus subrufus

Another Black and White Bee

As light began to fail (hence the grainy photo) I stumbled across another beautiful species of black and white bee at Rowney Warren today, this one being an especially boldly marked Melecta albifrons (probably). Will need to return in better light to get a better snap.

They aren't as beautiful in behaviour however as they are cleptoparasites of the common bee Anthophora plumipes snapped earlier at Fenlake Meadows

Unwanted attention

This female Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) was trying to get on quietly with the job of laying eggs on garlic mustard at Rowney Warren but was being pestered by two males.

There is an orange egg in this picture too, which must have been laid a couple of days ago as they start out white.

She eventually got fed up and signalled them to go away by raising the abdomen. (Several butterfly species seem to use this method, especially the whites). It did the trick, they left immediately.

Crucifer Shieldbug

The garlic mustard at Rowney Warren had quite a few crucifer shieldbugs (Eurydema oleracea) on them today, including several pairs. Here is one of the colour forms

More bovver with a hover

Still trying to develop a technique for snapping hoverflies in flight. Even at 1/3200 second their wings are still a blur. This one was in Fenlake Meadows this morning.

Thanks to Stephen Plummer for its identification - Eristalis pertinax (pale front feet; pale patch on hind tibia)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Love is in the air

This pair of Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria) were in a courtship spiral in Chicksands Wood today. Very lucky to capture them both (almost) in focus!

Push-Me Pull-You

There are plenty of bee-flies (Bombylius major) around at the moment, this pair in Chicksands Wood intent on producing more.

They flew together across the ride, not sure who was steering.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Lashings of Ginger Bees

A Bombus pascuorum queen topping-up on cowslip nectar on Sharnbrook Summit NR (south side, the north side is closed at the moment)

This gorgeously furry female Andrena fulva was nectaring and gathering pollen nearby

Later, at Brown's Wood, was what I think is a female Andrena haemorrhoa, but I'm still unsure about my bee IDs.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Green Hairstreak

As the season is advancing apace in this fine weather I went looking for Green Hairstreak at Marston Vale Millennium Country Park. It took about 5 minutes at a spot I find them each year.

Looked then for Grizzled and Dingy Skippers to no avail.

Cooper's Hill

A quick lunchtime visit didn't reveal anything special but I did see my first Dolycorus baccarum (Hairy Shieldbug) of the year.

Prey and cleoptoparasitoid

The pit at Sandy Smith NR was buzzing today with (I think) Andrena flavipes bees nesting in the sand (not a great pic I know)

But there were also plenty of Nomada (possibly Nomada fucata?) checking out their holes, hoping to lay an egg on their provisions which their offspring will commandeer.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Bumblebee Husks

Also at Rowney Warren, from beneath a large willow with nearly-finished blossom I picked up 19 dead bumblebees, every one missing the top of the thorax and tail segments and a completely empty husk. Here's a couple of photos:

After posting a query on the BWARs forum I was informed that Great Tits may well be responsible for the carnage.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Classy Dresser

One of our smartest bees, Andrena cineraria, a male in this case at Rowney Warren, dressed to impress:

Here be Dragons!

Okay, so they don't have six legs, but I'm allowed the odd quadruped. This common lizard was close enough to the brimstone in the previous posting to have watched me photographing it.

In-flight entertainment

I've had a few stabs at photographing butterflies in flight without much luck, but today this male brimstone at Rowney Warren was kind enough to flap at the right time and place