Saturday, 22 September 2012

Still new

A few interesting opportunities have presented themselves over the last couple of weeks.

I rather like this shot of three different hoverflies all nectaring together in a rare opportunity. Normally these insects would disturb each other and the smaller ones will fly off to find other flowers, but in this gap in the rain, any source of food is welcome and their tolerance is greatly increased.

The larger one is a Syrphus sp., probably Syrphus ribesii. The medium-sized one is a male Platycheirus sp.: you can just make out the elongated and yellow front feet. The third is a female Melanostoma scalare in the locally frequent dark form.

Trio of hoverflies on Dandelion

In the last post, I showed one of the many male wasps that can be found wandering over flowerheads at the moment. Male bumblebees have also been ejected from the hives, and can be found in much the same situation: surplus to requirements:
Male bumblebee
Male bumblebees can be identified by basically being more colourful than the workers or queens, usually in conjunction with wider yellow bands and yellow on the face.

The lights at the front door are still attracting the occasional moth, along with other insects that are attracted to light.

The wet weather tends to flush scales off their wings, so identification becomes even trickier than usual. This shot of the Common Marbled Carpet shows just enough detail to provide an identification:

Common Marbled Carpet

A number of different Thorn moths appear in Autumn: their colours and shapes enable them to merge in with fallen leaves. This is a new species for me - the Canary-shouldered Thorn:
Canary-shouldered Thorn
Food plants are Birch, Alder, Willow, Lime and (not around here!) Elm.

New to my species list.

Pink-barred Sallow is another Willow feeder:
Pink-barred Sallow
The larval foodplant is Willow catkins and the adults nectar on Ivy flowers.

The Ichneumonid Ophion luteus is also attracted to light, and is often found inside light traps that have been set out to attract moths.

The Ichneumonid Ophion luteus
This micromoth appeared on my kitchen window in broad daylight, and I was delighted to notice that it is also new to me. It's Acleris sparsana, a Beech feeder.

Acleris sparsana micromoth
New to my Species List.

I spotted this pair of pink mushrooms on my lawn:

Mycena pura
They smell strongly of raw potato (some say radishes), so that points us neatly towards Mycena pura.

I also noticed this little mushroom nearby:

Psilocybe semilanceata
The little pimple on the top alerted me to the fact that it might be Psilocybe semilanceata - the original 'magic mushroom', so I took a spore print to check:

Psilocybe semilanceata spores x 400

  • Spores oval and smooth
  • Spores 12-15 microns
  • Spores purple-brown

That'll do.

One of the questions that I'm most commonly asked is "When did you start being interested in wildlife?", and my answer is simply "As soon as I could walk". My father was recently going through his collection of 35mm slides and he found this shot of me with a young Starling chick:

Me aged 7 with a Starling chick
Maybe I should make that my profile picture.

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