30 Days Wild – Day 11: Various Insects

Still a windy day but none the less quite warm in the sun, so if you could find some shelter it was very pleasant. The kind of day to go looking for insects making the most of exactly such places. In the garden the moth trap had one new species for the year, a varied coronet.

varied coronet

varied coronet

This moth was known only as a scarce migrant until about 70 years ago when it started to breed in Kent, since when it has spread widely, although I don’t often catch it myself.

I found a number of insects around the garden warming themselves including a number of hoverflies.

Merodon equestris

Merodon equestris

This one looks like a bumblebee in an effort to be left alone by birds, it is also known as the greater bulb-fly as the larvae feed on bulbs, it is not a favourite with many gardeners.

By the pond I found an unfortunate broad-bodies chaser that had emerged but failed to get its wings properly expanded, it will never fly, after a year of development in the pond it had failed at the last hurdle.

unfortunate Libellula depressa

unfortunate dragonfly

In the afternoon I ventured out into the New Forest for a short walk. Again it was the sheltered clearings that harboured the most wildlife and in one patch of sunlight I spotted a humming-bird hawk-moth, luckily it landed allowing me to get a picture.

humming-bird hawk-moth

humming-bird hawk-moth

There were also hoverflies, although not so many as in the garden. On one sunny logs I found a specimen of Xylota abiens.

Xylota abiens
Xylota abiens

These hoverflies almost never visit flowers, but are often seen sunning themselves or moving over leaves, they may find the food they need from honeydew on leaves rather than nectar from flowers. This individual ahs picked up a hitch-hiker in the form of a tiny red mite which you can just make on the top of the thorax.

I also found one dragonfly, this time a recently emerged keeled skimmer.

keeled skimmer close up

keeled skimmer close-up

This close-up shows how the front legs are not used for standing, but held up behind the head ready to be used for manipulating prey to allow feeding in flight.

Farewell

After the wet Bank Holiday Monday, Tuesday’s sunshine was welcome, however despite this it was a sad day at Blashford as we had to say farewell to Michelle. She has been an invaluable member of the Education team and a source of endless enthusiasm which has inspired far more than just those working on the educational side of things. She has been a source of many amazing ideas, a lot of which have turned into great activities and some of which were just amazing!

As befits our having to part with such a well loved member of the team we had to give her a send off and the volunteers stepped in with liberal supplies of cake, a parting gift and a traditional farewell walk around the reserve.

Michelle receiving her parting gift

Michelle receiving her parting gift (note the cake! all of it very good) 

On our walk we went to the Autumn lady’s-tresses I found on Monday and Jim promptly found another! The sun had brought out lots of insects and before we left there was a humming-bird hawk-moth by the Centre and out on the reserve lots of speckled wood and brimstone butterflies. I especially liked this one perched on a hemp agrimony plant, until I downloaded the picture I had not noticed the tiny wasp perched on the rear edge of the hind-wing.

brimstone and tiny wasp

brimstone and tiny wasp

The reserve staff stayed on after we had locked up and all went up onto the ridge that overlooks the valley from the east, from where you apparently get a fine view across the lakes and beyond.

The lakes have got to be here somewhere

The lakes have got to be here somewhere

Hopefully Michelle will come back to see us from time to time, she will be missed by staff, volunteers and visitors to the reserve.

Although the weather was improved most of Monday’s birds had gone, although the little stint was on Ibsley Water first thing in the morning. When we locked up the hides we counted a huge 120 grey heron on Ibsley Water along with 110 cormorant, they were all just standing around, I guess they had been flushed from the valley and come to the lakes for some peace and quiet. They may have retreated from the unexpected sight of a flock of cattle egret, which were reported flying up the valley earlier, although where they went remains a mystery.