Sunday, 29 July 2007

These two rather tatty White Admirals at Chicksands were taken a few metres apart, but (looking at the wear) were probably of the same individual, rather unusually feeding on flowers.
Green-veined White, Chicksands Wood, 29/7/07

A few hours at Chicksands

A Crab Spider

Large Skipper

Rutpela maculata - a longhorn beetle

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Cooper's Hill Hymenoptera

Here are a selection of pictures of Hymenoptera seen on the reserve in a couple of recent afternoons. (I think the IDs are correct - please let me know if you think any are incorrect).

An Ammophila sabulosa preparing to drag her catch into the nest. Once the nest is fully provisioned she will lay an egg and seal the hole.

A Philanthus triangulum, known as the Bee Wolf, carrying a honey bee worker to her nest. The burrow leads to several cells which are provisioned with bees.

Cerceris rybyensis. Her nest will be provisioned with beetles, mostly weevils, or other solitary wasps.

A ruby-tailed wasp, Hedychrum niemelai. (This species has RDB status). Ruby-tailed wasps, also known as cuckoo wasps are cleptoparisites or parasitoids on other solitary wasps, in this case various species of Cerceris, such as C.rybyensis above. They will enter their burrows and lay an egg in each available cell.

Dasypoda hirtipes the hairy-legged mining bee. There is a large aggregation of these delightful bees in the SW corner of the reserve. Watch them "row" backwards pushing excavated material onto the spoil heap before running back down the mine for more!

All pictures by Keith Balmer.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

An excellent female Oak Eggar moth (Lasiocampa quercus) at The Lodge today. Thanks to Ian Dawson for the tip-off.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Sharpenhoe Clappers

An enjoyable afternoon spent thrashing around in the grassy area on top of the clappers. Saw a few jet-propelled Dark-green Frits, none really photogenic. The highlight of the three hours or so were the freshly emerged Chalkhill Blues. Stunning. Other stuff seen below.

Some Small Skippers. Still haven't worked out how to tell them and Essex apart...

A couple of smart crickets/grasshoppers...

Various moths found in the grass and scrub. Haven't worked out what any of them are called yet though...

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Large Emerald

This stunning Large Emerald moth (Geometra papilionaria) was by the entrance to the Osprey building at The Lodge this morning. It drew many admirers on their way in to work.

Odonata at The Lodge

Common Darter, Sympetrum striolatum

Southern Hawker, Aeshna cyanea, just emerged from Jack's Pond

Ruddy Darter, Sympetrum sanguineum

Monday, 16 July 2007

Chicksands Wood - 16 July 2007

A new brood Brimstone butterfly laying down fat reserves for the winter. With luck this male will live until next June.

A slightly odd male Gatekeeper with paler than usual hindwings.

A Common lizard basking on a log-pile. With a slow stealthy approach it is possible to get quite close.

I had always suspected that a crab spider could catch a medium-sized butterfly but never seen it before. Here a meadow brown has become a tasty meal for this spider that waited on the flower for a victim.

All four pictures by Keith Balmer.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

MVCP Damselflies and Dragonflies 15th July 2007

Small Red-eyed Damselfy, Emerald Damselfly and Southern Hawker - all within 100 yards of the MVCP Visitors Centre today, by Martin Green.

Mayfly emergence

On 15th July at Broom GP I found millions of tiny Mayfly exuviae on the plastic protectors surrounding the seedling trees. The trees were a metre or more from the waters edge and one side of the plastic was completely covered by them. There were also Common Blue damselfly exuviae on the protectors up to five metres from the water. The sheer numbers indicate that these pools are alive with invertebrates. Photos by Steve Cham

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Butterflies - Chicksands Wood and Sharpenhoe, 14th July 2007

A visit to Chicksands Wood on Saturday found cloud cover every time I got to a likely area for Silver-washed Fritillary, preceded and followed by bright sun walking to and from the car. Grrr. Just a few shots of common species from here - male and female Large Skipper and a Meadow Brown.

Then a quick dash to Sharpenhoe Clappers where there was a little more sun and the second target big Fritillary performed, despite being rather mobile in windy conditions. One Dark Green settled to feed on Greater Knapweed long enough for a series of shots - one distant but nicely spread, then a series in close-up.

I love the spotty eyes.

...and finally the diagnostic dark green underwing pattern

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Sand Wasp at The Lodge

This is a Sand Wasp, Ammophila sabulosa, carrying a Pine Beauty moth caterpillar (thanks to Ian Dawson for ID)

Monday, 9 July 2007

Small Red-eyed Damselfly at The Lodge

Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Erythromma viridulum, on the swimming pool

New to Bedfordshire?

Unless anyone knows of any recent records, this is Theridion familiare and is a new species of spider for Bedfordshire. The most recent distribution map can be found here (the closest three dots to Beds are all Ian Dawsons records from Cambs; Waresley, Little Paxton and Coton):

Many thanks (again) to Ian Dawson for the identification of the spiders found in my Broom home. Looks like this time I found a good one!

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Insects from Aspley Heath

An ichneumon Wasp?

Longhorn Beetle Strangalia quadrifasciata
Aspley Heath, 8th July 2007 by Steve Blain.