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A local diary


October 2017 - wildlife, from the Somerset Levels

October 26th 2017. The annual job of entering the insect pictures for the year 2017 into the gallery has just been completed. A 57 further images have been chosen under bumblebees, cuckoo bumblebees, digger wasps, hoverflies, leafcutter and mason bees. It always turns out to be a long and frustrating task, if anything can go wrong it wiil, but eventually it is worth being able to see the pictures on-line and hopefully to look at progress. The majority have been taken with an ancient Nikon D300 with an even older Sigma 180 f5.6 macro lens, backed up with flash. Inevitably, they look better in the original tif format but progress has been made during the year in the conversion process to jpeg and onto the website, by way of Pixillion software. To view the results click on Insects in flight gallery.

October 19th 2017. Some miscellaneous pictures discovered among the year's archives, include this grasshopper on the Poldens.

Rufous grasshopper Chorthippus rufus

Green woodpecker Picus viridis imm.

Westhay Moor NNR

October 18th 2017. Here is another installment of 'missed' pictures from the year; this time, hoverflies.

hoverfly Eristalis nemorum m

hoverfly Eristalis nemorum m

hoverfly Eristalis nemorum courtship

hoverfly Melanostoma scalare m

hoverfly Rhingia campestris

hoverfly Sphaerophoria scripta m

hoverfly Xylota segnis

Followed by a few bees from a variety of places.

mining bee Lasioglossum calceatum m

mining bee Lasioglossum leucozonium f

bumblebee Bombus pascuorum m landing

October 13th 2017. I am enjoying the excitement of going through earlier pictures not properly registered at the time, though it can also be be very repetitive and boring at times. It is when something unexpected turns up that it becomes really worthwhile. Sometimes this adds to my knowledge of the locality - confusing the way thought previously. An example of this is findong out how many species of leafcutter bees are present in the garden and at the logs. I had thought we had two species nesting this year but trawling through back work has revealed this is not so. The pictures below illustrate this, as well as showing their important identification characteristics. These are further shown in LIVE ID guide. Megachile centuncularis f is characterised by the pollen brush beneath the abdomen, appearing all red-gold in colour for its full length.

leafcutter bee, Megachile centuncularis f

leafcutter bee, Megachile centuncularis f

M. ligniseca f has a long, squared-off abdoment with white bands all its length. The 'jizz' on this insect becomes strong once seen from various angles in the field.

leafcutter bee, Megachile ligniseca f

leafcutter bee, Megachile ligniseca f

M. versicolor f is similar to M. centuncularis f, but the last part of the pollen brush is black, distinctive once spotted.

leafcutter bee, Megachile versicolor f

M. willughbiella f has golden-brown hairs on head and thorax, with partial bands of gingery hairs on the abdomen

 leafcutter bee, Megachile willughbiella f

 leafcutter bee, Megachile willughbiella f

leafcutter bee nest hole closures Megachile spp.

October 9th 2017. Today's set of shots missed from the year's selection concentrates on birds.

Pied wagtail Motacilla alba, with dragonfly

Meadow pipit Anthus pratensis - what's above?

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Great white egret Egretta alba; Grey heron Ardea cinerea - after the same site

Grey heron Ardea cinerea

October 7th 2017.  Further offerings, this time from the 'flats'. The Hylaeus is particularly interesting, as it is another species new to the logs, not noted at the time. It shows the importance of trawling through previous sessions at a later date. At first glance small, dark insects, may look as if they are anonymous, impossible to determine, but the screen reveals otherwise as they are magnified.

solitary bee Hylaeus dilatatus f

mason wasp Ancistrocerus nigricornis

mason wasp Ancistrocerus nigricornis

mason wasp Symmorphus bifasciatus

mason wasp Symmorphus bifasciatus

digger wasp Crossocerus cetratus m

digger wasp Pemphredon lugubris f

digger wasp Pemphredon lugubris f

ichneumon Perithous scurra f

Adding to the insect theme, here are a couple added from previous days out in the field. The ichneumon has been seen before from the Grasslands Trust entry but not this particular view, while the bumblebee gives a spectacular sight of the tongue in action - altogether more sturdy than expected.

ichneumon Amblyteles armatorius

bumblebee Bombus pascuorum w

bumblebee Bombus pascuorum m

mining bee Lasioglossum laevigatum f

October 6th 2017. Another small selection of hoverflies that have missed the previous cut. Chrysogaster cemiteriorum, quite apart from its creepy name, is a species absolutely new to me, always of interest.

hoverfly Chrysogaster cemiteriorum m

hoverfly Epistrophe eligans f

hoverfly Syrphus vitripennis m

October 2nd 2017. This time of year is very much 'in between'; between the end of the insect season and before the winter wetland birds appear in the area. As a result entries are sparse, so I have been going back though the year's pictures to see what has been missed - and it has proved a rich harvest. I will be taking a selection of these and adding them into the diary. I have been surprised at how many seem to have been mislaid. Today's selection is of a Great white egret in breeding plumage flying towards me at Ham Wall. These were not taken with high-speed motordrive but as deliberate single shots, with the moment chosen as far as possible. I prefer this approach, but usually have the camera on 'slow' speed, 3 per frames second, with easy control of single shots within the setting. I still have the possibility of faster automatic shooting, but rarely use it as such.

all these are of a Great white egret Egretta alba

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