Monday, 27 May 2013

Holcot Wood leps

A male Orange Tip on Ragged Robin and a Yellow-tail caterpillar on Hazel in Holcot Wood today...


There are some stunning drifts of Ramsons (Allium ursinum) in Holcot Wood at the moment, in peak condition, if you can make the effort to get to this rather remote wood...

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Let me slip out of something less comfortable...

Just as I was leaving Old Warden Tunnel NR a spider on the gate-post caught my eye, looking rather odd. I thought it might be holding prey but when when I looked closely realised it was starting to shed its skin. (Ecdysis is the fancy term). It had obviously fixed its rear end to the post with silk so as to allow all eight legs to be extracted from the old skin. Looks rather like it is trying to put on four pairs of really tight jeans. Finally it hung with all legs outwards, hardening. A fly chose the right time to land nearby! Seven minutes covers the sequence.

Old Warden Tunnel leps.

The best find of today was a Dingy Skipper at Old Warden Tunnel NR, a new site:

Also present was an ageing courting couple of Peacocks:

a Pancalia leuwenhoekella:

an as-yet unidentified Geometridae(?):

and just outside the reserve lots of Cocksfoot Moths, Glyphipterix simpliciella on Cocksfoot seedheads:

Bumblebee behaviour mimic

I knew that Volucella bombylans mimics the appearance of bumblebees, but this one also exhibited a behaviour of them too. When bumblebees are cold and want to ward off something they raise a front leg to do so. This fly was also cold and waved its front leg in just the same way, at Old Warden Tunnel NR...

Centrotus cornutus

The bizarre-looking Centrotus cornutus, one of only two UK species of treehopper, and the one to wear the "viking helmet horns". At Old Warden Tunnel NR today.

Old Warden Tunnel beetles

Three species of longhorn (Cerambycidae) beetles at Old Warden Tunnel NR today, all near the entrance:

Agapanthia villosoviridescens

Phytoecia cylindrica

Clytus arietis

a cardinal beetle, Pyrochroa serraticornis

and a couple of species of tortoise beetle:

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Early Purple Orchid

A rather pretty Early Purple Orchid in a local wood, where it was last recorded in 1985, so glad to find it is still present and to put it on the map again.

Why the long face?

A Curculio sp. of weevil sitting on low undergrowth in Kempston Wood, probably recently emerged from overwintering in the soil. As females have longer rostrums than the males, I'm guessing this is a lady weevil. There are different species specialising in laying in Hazel and Oak and I'm not sure which one this (both plants are present at the site).

Monday, 6 May 2013

Anoplius viaticus

Spotted an Anoplius viaticus female at Cooper's Hill starting to dig a hole, right in the middle of the path which may not have been the best choice of location, but I knew that she must have an immobilized spider victim somewhere nearby. The initial digging took twenty-two minutes then finally off she went down the path, about 3 metres, where the spider was sitting in full sight. Some spider hunters hide their prey from rivals while they dig their hole, but not this one. The main problem though was that it was uphill from there to the hole she'd dug, and it was loose sand all the way. Natural selection should have meant she'd have died of exhaustion trying to drag it all that way, so, being a softie, I assisted by pushing at the rear with a heather twig while she pulled on a leg at the front. Thirty-two minutes later we finally had the spider in the hole, and did I get any thanks for helping...?

At one point, sadly while I was some distance away, hence no pictures, a Green Tiger Beetle ran over to the wasp and attacked her. I wondered who would win and the answer came quickly as the GTB quickly dashed away. I wonder if it was stung and now lies paralyzed somewhere?

Not sure if I've got the colour balance right as I had to do a lot of fiddling back at base. Must check my camera for a beach setting...!


It's the time of year for the obligatory Green Tiger Beetle photo (at Cooper's Hill today)...

Broomstick Bee

Always fun/frustrating trying to photograph insects in action and an Osmia bicolor flying in with stems to cover the formerly-empty snail shell in which she's provided food and laid an egg is one of the trickier ones. These are the best of about 100 attempts at Marston Vale Millennium Country Park today.

Spotting this action is fairly easy - just look for flying twigs attached to a dark blob. I now want to photograph a shell being provisioned...

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Face of a Syrphus

Fiddled with the super-macro mode on my CX6 today and got this close to a Syrphus sp. Am still looking for a compact with better macro optics though. There's a gap in the market as a audit of everything on sale showed no compacts with a decent macro at the telephoto end of the range. Manufacturers only seem to care how close you can get the lens to the subject, but insects have personal space too...!

Skaters - 1, Rowers - 0

A pond skater feasting on a water boatman carcase in a pond at Rookery Pit north today.

Skaters have amazing eyes and great binocular vision. Must try for a sharper picture now I know...

Tetrix subulata f. bifasciata?

Have pondered whether this is Tetrix undulata or T. subulata. Am currently leaning towards it being the short-winged form T.subulata f. bifasciata, but happy to be proven wrong. Seen on the track at Rookery Pit north next to the railway today.