all pictures © robin williams

July 2023: wildlife, from the Somerset Levels

July 26th 2023. The invert group meeting today was at Combe Hill Wood, on the Poldens. John M, Ron and myself were present, a small gathering but full of suitable knowledge. We parked at the Forestry car park and walked towards the edge oif the scarp-face, where the woodland cleared onto one of the typical Polden curiosities where the grassland forms bare patches that look at a distance just like sandstone. We knew that rain was on the way, possibly by lunchtime, but made good use of our time on the edges of the track. The most interesting discovery was a White-letter hairstreak butterfly, which two of us had never seen previously. This specimen was really old, battered and faded, but the characteristic pale marking underneath the wing was still well marked. John mentioned that this hairstreak was usually associated with Elms, Ulmus procera, and sure enough one was growing nearby. While the first picture is by no means perfect, the second shows the state butterflies can get in towards the end of their life.


White-letter hairstreak, Strymonidia w-album

White-letter hairstreak, Strymonidia w-album

The reminder of the visit was notable for the sheer variety of the insects seen, even if in small overall numbers. We had a most enjoyable walk up to the edge of the scarp face where we eventually lunched on a convenient bench thoughtfully provided for the public.

Long-winged conehead, Conocephalus discolor f

Rufous grasshopper, Gomphocerippus rufus


bumblebee, Bombus jonellus

Large rose sawfly, Arge pagana

mining bee, Lasioglossum fulvicorne m


mining bee, Lasioglossum fulvicorne m

mining bee, Lasioglossum morio m


digger wasp, Ectemnius cavifrons

hoverfly, Eristalis pertinax m

hoverfly, Eristalis tenax f

 hoverfly, Melangyna spp.

 hoverfly, Epistrophe nitidicollis m


July 25th 2023.

July 22nd 2023. Romey saw the same deer again today, early in the morning, then again in the pouring rain this afternoon when the pair were seen feeding in the background. Let us hope they are permanent visitors during the day. They have never stopped visiting during the night, as the trail camera testifies.

Roe deer, Capreolus capreolus f

But that was not the whole interest. It was a beautiful day and the lavender was in full bloom, attracting bumblebees at last. Only two species but the main one was one that had not been present earlier, Bombus hortorum, one of the most attractive and engaging which has been missing for a couple of years. 

July 21st 2023. I remain intrigued by what is happening with the NHBS small bee hotel on the south-facing wall close to the front door. I bought this in the early Spring, together with another I gave to my daughter Fiona. This latter quickly filled up with bee nests and was a scene of real activity. Mine remained stubbornly empty until recently, although in an apparently perfect location.

leafcutter bee Megachile versicolor f

leafcutter bee Megachile versicolor f

leafcutter bee Megachile versicolor f

leafcutter bee Megachile versicolor f

leafcutter bee Megachile centuncularis f

lesser mason bee, Hoplitis claviventris f

chalcid Pteromalus apum f

July 20th 2023. We were walking up through the orchard this afternoon when a small shape was spotted in the tangle of undergrowth waiting for its annual cut. It was a young Roe deer, Capreolus capreolus, driven out from the spot where mother had left it. A short while after the mother herself was seen cutting across into our next-door neighbours grounds. It was a moment we have been longing for since the end of Covid when daytime visits to the garden and orchard stopped - presumably as the result of increasing local movements. We have missed the deer so much since then. 

July 18th 2023. At last, one of the more colourful digger wasps has appeared, however briefly, at the log-nests. I just do not know what has happened to our normally-thriving population of insects exploring the logs.

digger wasp, Ectemnius continuus

mining bee, Lasioglossum spp. mating

mining bee, Lasioglossum spp. mating

mining bee, Lasioglossum spp. mating

mining bee, Lasioglossum parvulum m

mining bee, Lasioglossum fratellum f

mining bee, Lasioglossum morio f

hoverfly, Platycheirus albimanus f

hoverfly, Platycheirus albimanus f

July 13th 2023. After several days of rain and sun, there were improved conditions for photography. It all looked as if it was all one species of bumblebee, until the pictures appeared on the computer. 

bumblebee, Bombus hortorum m

bumblebee, Bombus hortorum m

bumblebee, Bombus jonellus w 

bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum w

cuckoo bumblebee, Bombus sylvestris m

hoverfly, Syrphus ribesii f

July 6th 2023. A considerable time was devoted today to photography on the terrace, part of the effort to keep with changes taking place, new species appearing. Continuity is important where it is possible.

 bumblebee, Bombus jonellus w

bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum m

bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum m

bumblebee, Bombus hortorum

cuckoo bumblebee, Bombus barbutellus

mining bee, Lasioglossum fratellum f

mining bee, Lasioglossum fratellum f

mining bee, Lasioglossum fratellum f

mining bee, Lasioglossum fratellum f

mining bee, Lasioglossum fratellum f

July 1st 2023. Another month, but the fine weather continues, though there have been one or two wet nights to everyone's relief. Many pictures have been taken, but have not been entered onto the web because of computer problems. This has led to a continuing and increasing back log. All has been resolved now, hopefully, with a very considerable reload and varius internal alterations. All is not entirely well though. A hard drive containing tiff and jpeg insect files has become badly corrupted. Other drives do not seem to have been affected. Current operations using NX Studio are fine, corrections and changes working correctly and files behave quite normally. No, the problem comes with older files of infrequently worked species. These files cannot be opened and are represented only by a logo showing they are present but unusable - frustrating.