Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Lost Jewel

So yesterday after filling me boots with Small Eggar larvae, I ventured over the border into Cambs. (or at least into the Peterborough District). I went to Bedford Purlieus, a site I only recall going to once before which was almost exactly six years ago. Immediately on getting there I had doubts; the small car park was full and there was a group of youths loitering around, though to be fair they did not exactly look like snarky yoofs. I reversed into to make a U turn and depart, when I noticed that one of them had a large refuse sack filled with litter and a pick-up stick. Fair play. Even better, they each got into their own car and fecked off, leaving just a couple of cars behind. If I'd turned up a few minutes earlier I'd have not seen this and just gone somewhere else.

Anyway, boots on and almost immediately after walking through a couple of gates I was confronted by a couple of chasers in a sunny corner just in front of woodland, next to a sun-lit flowering shrub (dog wood?). I carefully laid down my nets, got my camera out and starting getting a couple of shots.

The sun-lit shrub in question

Broad-boded Chaser - nice.

All the time as I stood still watching it, I was aware that the shrub was quite busy with hoverflies, Grammoptera and other bits. And then something flew right past my face onto the bush and got my attention. My nets were on the floor some five meters away, the camera was on zoom macro to shoot a chaser that was five meters away, and this thing was sitting at face height about half a meter from me. I could see what it was, the identification was not in any doubt, but my joy was immediately dampened by the realisation that the chance of capturing the event in any way was slim. I turned, fucked about with the camera and it was gone. My first Agrilus biguttatus, in all it's shiny and spotted-elytral glory. Arse. I loitered around the bush for at least half an hour, switching between net and camera but not joy with the jewel. Best hoverfly during this interlude was this monster ..

Volucella inflata

Once it was clear it was gone for good, I set off for a look around the place. It was nothing like I remembered it. In my mind it was a lush flower-rich and slightly damp meadow with a bit of surrounding woodland. Yesterday it was a parched grassland with too much bracken and loads of woodland with long open rides.

I had a good walk around, though the heat was already rising and ento-action was a bit sporadic. Apart from the wood ants that were absolutely everywhere. Along one of the more shaded rides I spotted this scuttling across the path ...

Glow Worm larva

I also got to one particular patch of bracken that was alive with longhorns dance flighting all over the place. Lots of Alosterna tabacicolor that wouldn't sit still (one netted to check) and a handful of these .....

Rutpela maculata

I saw a fair bit flying about in places, but shrubs and bushes on the woodland edge were better for more hoverflies and other stuff, though the only one sitting still long enough for a photo was these ..

Xylota segnis

Tenthredo mesomela

After a couple of hours I headed off, dropping into Ketton Quarry on the way back as it would be daft not too. Immediately on entering the reserve I saw this on a dog rose flower ...

Stenurella melanura

Another Tenthredo mesomela hit the camera sensor, whilst actively eating another sawfly ....

Whilst walking around I was being buzzed by clegs - I'd already netted one that escaped, but I could see it was probably Chrysops relictus from the wing markings. I managed to net it with a chance sweep over my head that just managed to catch it out. Further into the reserve the same happened again, but on checking the net it was something a lot bigger and I managed to get it into a pot. I had no qualms about processing this one, nasty biting bastards that they are.

Anyway, it was a female with three-striped eyes and a sort of pimple on the top of the head ....

This immediately takes it to Hybomitra. Following the key in Stubbs and Drake was fine, Facial dusting, abdominal markings and mid-tibial hairs made it Hybomitra bimaculata.

I'm not a fan of flies that actively try to bite you, but those eyes really are funky. Here's an artist with funky eyes and a jewel-theme.

1 comment:

martinf said...

Some amazing shots there. The versatility of the camera is amazing. Very jealous of the biguttatus. Still only seen one jewel beetle species.