Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Lesser Redpoll

I always look forward to birding during January and February. Cold, crisp clear days with beautiful soft lighting and always the prospect of some good photographs. It just didn't happen this year.  Wind, rain and dull weather and a seeming lack of interesting birds. This part driven by a lack of a real cold spell to drive the birds south but also a function of my reluctance to venture out into the storms looking for them.

I did go out on Wednesday, not with any great hope but I had given a commitment to a friend, Jim, and I needed to make the effort and get out birding again. The problem was where to go that wasn't a foot deep in mud. We ended up at Warnham LNR up near Horsham and I will be forever grateful to Jim, for levering me out from sitting in front of the computer. I just needed a good bird and a picture opportunity to get me fired up again......... and it turned up

Lesser Redpoll

There is nothing like a bit of colour to brighten up both the day and the spirits. Lesser Redpolls are not that common on the south coast and when you do find them they usually stay in the tops of the trees.

Lesser Redpoll

It showed well and although there were the usual problems with branches in the way, I did get a couple of decent shots.

Lesser Redpoll

Even the Blue Tits and Robins suddenly seemed worth photographing.

Blue Tit

Robin  - just in case you didn't recognise it!

A scruffy looking Coal Tit stopped long enough for a photograph but I couldn't get clear shots of the Marsh Tit and Nuthatch that were also around the feeders. Nor could I piece together the full details on the Coal Tits leg ring.

Coal Tit

Walking round the plantation later we also had an obliging Treecreeper.


Reed Bunting

Warnham is well worth a visit. It has always been good for photography, a place where you can get close to the birds without disturbing them but with recent additions, it now has a mix of seven screens and hides so gives even more opportunities. It costs £2 to get in but it's well worth the money. Whilst you are there have a look for some of the other wildlife. Bank Voles are guaranteed under the feeders and later in the year it's worth looking for the Willow Emerald Damselfly.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Flies and Hoverflies

As with the previous blog just a few shots taken during last year that I finally got round to identifying. Or perhaps it would be safer to say had a go at identifying. I spent a good few hours on putting names to the pictures but I am sure that I won't have got everything right. So, any corrections will be gratefully received and whatever you do, don't use my blog as an authoritative source for naming your finds.

First the Flies

Coenosia tigrina

Photographing copulating flies in the middle of the Wisley flower show. Far more interesting than looking at the flowers.

Still working on this one - life is too short - probably from the Muscidae family

Parasitic Fly  - Gymnosoma sp  possibly nudifrons

The parasitic fly looks like Gymnosoma nudifrons but reading up on the species it looks as though you need a detailed examination of the genitalia to be sure.

Looks like a Yellow Dung Fly - Scathophaga stercoraria

Brown Heath Robberfly - Machimus (Tolmerus) atricapillus

Fly - Tachina magnicornis

Now the Hoverflies

Drone Fly - Eristalis tenax

This is a female Drone Fly Eristalis tenax, the eyes would be touching if it were a male. I think the picture below also shows a female Drone Fly. Research suggests that the species can have quite variable markings on its body and that some specimens can be almost totally black. I did not see any males that day but they are a lighter colour and have more yellow on them. This suggests that the males could be mimicking wasps and similar, whilst the females are mimicking mining bees.

Probably the correct identification but there are very similar species in E. nemorum and E. abusivus.

Drone Fly - Eristalis tenax?

Hoverfly - Helophilus pendulus

I have seen a number of common names for Helophilus pendulus, Marsh Hoverfly, Sun Fly, Tiger Hoverfly and even The Footballer. This one getting in the way of my attempts to photograph the White-letter Hairstreak.

Hoverfly - Syrphus ribesii (or S.vitripennis)

Hornet Mimic Hoverfly - Volucella zonaria

Hoverfly possibly the Pellucid Fly - Volucella pellucens

I wish I had taken a few more pictures of this hoverfly. The ring around the middle looks to be an ivory colour which would make it Volucella pellucens, common names the Pellucid Fly or Large Pied Hoverfly. Just worried it might be a trick of the light.

Marmalade Hoverfly - Episyrphus balteatus

and to finish, an Ivy Bee.

Ivy Bee  -  Colletes hederae

I still have a lot to learn about insects!

Spiders, Beetles and Bugs

Not many of them, it's not my main area of interest but I always end up taking a few pictures during the year and then don't find the time to research and identify them. They usually wait until we get a wet and windy winters day when I have nothing better to do.

Three spiders, all easy to identify. An interesting area to explore but it's difficult to get decent photographs and the identification, once you get away from the more obvious ones, can be really time consuming. Perhaps I just need to have a "Big Spider Year".

Common Garden Spider - Araneus diadematus

Zebra Spider - Salticus scenicus

Green Orb-weaver - Araniella cucurbitina

Beetles and Shieldbugs next. These are really just a by-product of taking pictures of butterflies. It's just fascinating how much life exists in the vegetation but you just don't see it unless you stop and look.

Black and Yellow Longhorned beetle - Rutpela maculata

Cantharis rustica - one of the soldier beetles

Common Red Soldier Beetle - Rhagonycha fulva

Sulphur Beetle - Cteniopus sulphureus

Thick-legged Flower Beetle - Oedemera nobilis

Oedemeridae group of beetles probably Oedemera lurida

Shieldbugs I particularly like. They are relatively easy to identify and there are only around forty four species recorded in the UK. Just the right sort of number for a life list, challenging but achievable. Not sure that I want to go in for netting or hoovering though, so it would be difficult to find them all.

Hairy Shieldbug - Dloycoris Baccarum

Red-legged Shieldbug - Pentatoma rufipes

Red-legged Shieldbug - Pentatoma rufipes

Common Green Shieldbug - Palomena prasina

Came into the house on the Christmas tree and trying to get out through the double glazing

Common Green Shieldbug - Palomena prasina

Only one problem, you need to be careful not to confuse them with Squash Bugs, family Coreidae, that can look very similar. This one below the Dock Bug.

Dock Bug - Coreus marginatus

The last picture, a Harlequin Ladybird, an invasive and problematic species. It out competes our native ladybirds for food and also eats their larvae and eggs. I rarely see any other ladybirds these days.

Harlequin Ladybird -  Harmonia axyridis

More to follow with Flies and Hoverflies.