nsectsandflight.com

all pictures © robin williams

August 2023: wildlife, from the Somerset Levels

August 26th 2023. The deer were back in the garden this morning, appearing both at the back and in the front. There was no sign of the buck, just the doe and the little one, now darkening and growing fast. How delightful.

Roe deer, Capreolus capreolus

Roe deer, Capreolus capreolus

Roe deer, Capreolus capreolus

Roe deer, Capreolus capreolus

Roe deer, Capreolus capreolus

Later on, sitting in my study, a heftyy, solid green bird landed not far from the window. A faint flash of red , followed by a twist of the head showed it was a sturdy juvenile. These splendid birds breed nearby every year. I do not know where, but we make it our business not to search for nestsfor fear of disturbance. 

Green woodpecker juvenile

Green woodpecker juvenile

August 24th 2023. A period spent on the terrace produced a variety of species. Clearly, the current range of pots is proving attractive and at their peak period for pollen production.

social wasp, Vespula vulgaris w

 social wasp, Vespula vulgaris w

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

 yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus confusus mating

hoverfly, Platycheirus peltatus f

hoverfly, Platycheirus peltatus f

hoverfly, Platycheirus peltatus m

 

 hoverfly, Platycheirus peltatus m

August 21st 2023. A strange day in every way, ending in two of us who were supposed to be having an invertebrate meeting, spending much of the day separated by a few hundred yards. I have long known the carpark at the field study station at Charterhouse, on the Mendips, and thought that was where John and I were meeting. However, it seems there is a public carpark further on, down a narrow lane. After  waiting for a while, I looked around the area and had a fascinating time as well as some interesting subjects, even if not the volume for which I had hoped.

mining bee, Lasioglossum calceatum m

mining bee, Lasioglossum calceatum m

mining bee, Lasioglossum calceatum m

mining bee, Lasioglossum calceatum m

mining bee, Lasioglossum calceatum m

mining bee, Lasioglossum calceatum m

mining bee, Lasioglossum morio m

mining bee, Lasioglossum morio m

mining bee, Lasioglossum smeathmanellum f

mining bee, Lasioglossum spp. m

mining bee, Lasioglossum xanthopus m

mining bee, Lasioglossum parvulum m

August 20th 2023. I decided recently to buy another lens for particular use on the terrace, a place where I spend a deal of time nowadays, sitting down. The lens, an AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D, has a high reputation for sharpness and its construction. Indeed, as far I could find out in my research, its optical performance has not altered in the more modern versions, only the addition of full stabilisation. As this lens will always be used for close-up work, with flash, there is nothing to be gained from stabilisation. I already had the 4T close-up lens to bring it up to lifesize mode. Many of the pictures that follow are made using the close-up lens which tests show does not affect picture quality. A particular useful setting enables the close-up range to be restricted to a sensible amount leading to lightning fast auto focussing, as in flight. It was a particularly varied session but ended up with some useful identification pictures, including some not seen before.

hoverfly, Platycheirus peltatus f - note expanded front tarsus

hoverfly, Platycheirus peltatus f

hoverfly, Platycheirus peltatus m

hoverfly, Platycheirus spp., f

hoverfly, Platycheirus spp.

hoverfly, Platycheirus peltatus m

hoverfly, Platycheirus peltatus m

hoverfly, Platycheirus peltatus f

 hoverfly, Platycheirus peltatus m

There were a great many bees on the geraneum in particular. The couple of bees below, very small, show the typical metallic dark green of this species. Even an indication of some metallic colouring of tiny Lasioglossum immediately confines identification to four species.
 

mining bee, Lasioglossum morio m

mining bee, Lasioglossum morio m

Of special interest was the tiny bee seen in the following pictures. I had never heard of the species and, to my knowledge, not seen one before. Yellow-faced bees are really small and un-obvious until examined closely. The next picture shows typical markings on the face which lead to their collective name. Females have small marks alongside the eyes, whereas males have spectacular shields covering a large area. Another typical feature is black and white marked or banded legs. Once seen in higher magnification they become easy to spot the next time they appear. The reason I had not noted this name is because it is fairly recent split fom another species. 

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus dilatatus f

August 15th 2023. Romey, Fiona and I visited Marshall's Elm today, the car squeezing through the exceedingly narrow gate to the car-park by the Hostel but, instead of turning right into our old haunts, we went left, into a wide open field. It is a long time since we have seen so many flowers and we had a short but most productive walk photographing the masses of insects. The sun shone brilliantly throughout. The predominant colour was purple, set among the grasses; the flowers were mostly Hardheads or Black knapweed, Centaurea nigra, and Spear thistle, Circium vulgare. Looking through the viewfinder, the colours were magnificent, both plants and the colours of the many bumblebees. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum & leafcutter bee, Megachile centuncularis f

bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius f & hoverfly Eristalis spp. f

cuckoo bumblebee, Bombus sylvestris

cuckoo bumblebee, Bombus sylvestris

cuckoo bumblebee, Bombus campestris m

cuckoo bumblebee, Bombus sylvestris m & bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum

bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum m

 

bumblebee, Bombus jonellus m

bumblebee, Bombus terrestris & leafcutter bee, Megachile centuncularis f

bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum m

bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius f

honeybee, Apis mellifera w

During the course of the day, we had a quick lunch at Sweet's on Tadham Moor - most enjoyable, as always. As we were leaving, we looked at their splendid 'butterfly' bush and spotted this spectacular Tiger moth. 

  

Garden tiger moth, Arctia caja

August 13th 2023. This morning was spent sitting next to the geraneums on the terrace at home. The results were remarkable with a range of insects pitching in.

hoverfly, Melanostoma scalare m

hoverfly, Melanostoma scalare m

hoverfly, Platycheirus albimanus f

hoverfly, Platycheirus albimanus f

hoverfly, Syrphus vitripennis m

mining bee, Lasioglossum villosulum m

mining bee, Lasioglossum villosulum m

mining bee, Lasioglossum villosulum m

mining bee, Lasioglossum leucopus f

mining bee, Lasioglossum leucopus f

yellow-faced bee, Hylaeus confusus f

mining bee, Lasioglossum leucopus f

mining bee, Lasioglossum fulvicorne m

 

digger wasp, Trypoxylon attenuatum

August 9th 2023. We decided to have another look at Loxley Wood this afternoon. Most of our visits are in the spring when it is known for its show of flowers and attendant insects. What would it be like in our rather strange year, in bright sunshine? The Woodland Trust are doing a great job of keeping it open in spite of all the recent growth.

Face-fly, Musca autumnalis f

hoverfly, Ferdinandia cuprea f

hoverfly, Cheilosia scutellata m

hoverfly, Eristalis nemorum, courtship flight

hoverfly, Eristalis pertinax m

hoverfly, Syrphus vitripennis f

Turnip sawfly, Athalia rosae

Turnip sawfly, Athalia rosae

sawfly

beetle, Orsodacne spp.

mining bee, Lasioglossum spp. f

 

bumblebee vibrating for pollen

 August 6th 2023. A variety of insects was seen on the terrace on this hot day, at the end of a great deal of wintery rain during the past few days. Indeed the past month has been noted as one of the wettest on record. 

hoverfly, Melanostoma mellinum m

hoverfly, Melanostommellinum m

hoverfly, Melanostommellinum m

cuckoo bee, Coelioxys inermis f

leafcutter bee, Megachile centuncularis f

leafcutter bee, Megachile centuncularis f

leafcutter bee, Megachile centuncularis f

leafcutter bee, Megachile centuncularis f

leafcutter bee, Megachile willughbiella f

 

leafcutter bee, Megachile willughbiella f

leafcutter bee, Megachile willughbiella f

leafcutter bee, Megachile willughbiella f

Meadow brown butterfly, Maniola jurtina

bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum m

bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum m

 bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum m

 August 4th 2023. The early evening was really exciting. We were watching the news when a beige shadow ran across the window, on the terrace. A minute or so  later, the roebuck strolled across and looked in, only a few feet away from where we sat. Finally, I was sitting in the study typing away, lights full on, when I realised he whole deer family was moving around in front of me, at times appearing to fill the field of view, onl feet away. How exciting and so frustrating, the camera battery was on the charger. After this we had the deer in front of the house and at the back, at the same time - but no pictures.

August 3rd 2023. Three deer made their appearance this evening as the light was fading. At first it was the usual doe and her very pale baby, then a buck trotted over to join them. They remained there until they vanished in the twilight.

August 2nd 2023. There should have been a large choice of pictures to look at this evening, but yet another disaster befell the computer and all vanished except the picture seen below. There was no apparent reason but does reason ever apply! The really pale youngster shows up well against mother's red-gold coat. 

 

Roe, Capreolus capreol