7 November 2010

Autumn at Oversley Wood

A few pictures showing the colours and Fruits of Autumn

Sloe - Fruit of the Blackthorn

On the forest floor

Bramble - Got its timing wrong

Holly - LOTS of berries this year. Harsh winter ahead?


This unmistakable "phallic" funghi exudes a fowl smell from the slime which it produces on its cap. This attracts flies which then carry away the spores helping it spread.

 I saw a number of these and disappointingly (?) I couldn't smell anything. Not sure if that is because I am suffering from a cold or that they were coming to the end of their lives and the smell had diminished. I was pleased that the first one at least showed some evidence of the slime and was still attracting flies.

Stinkhorn - Phallus Impudicus

Stinkhorn - Phallus Impudicus

Stinkhorn - Phallus Impudicus

10 October 2010

Hornets Nest

It was a beautiful hot sunny day so decided to go for a walk in the fields around the village (Sambourne) and stumbled upon a Hornets nest in an Oak tree. The nest was in a hole in the trunk of the tree about 18 inches from the ground at the edge of a field. It would probably have gone unnoticed but I saw something large buzzing around and stood to see what it was and if it would settle. It went to the small hole in the Oak and I then realised it was a Hornet and there were several more around. I was only a couple of feeet from the nest and they had obviously spotted me and I was soon being checked out by 6 or 7 more Hornets so I moved away 10 feet or so and they went back to their business.

They were not agreessive to me but they clearly didn't like me being too close to the nest so I took 2 or 3 pictures then retreated and let them settle back down and then went back and took a few more and retreated again.

I did that 3 or 4 times and decided I had distubed them enough ( and had maybe pushed my luck far enough! )  and moved on. I just wish I had spotted the nest earlier in the year as it will die off soon when the weather gets colder and will not be repopulated next year.

Hornet - Vespa crabro

Hornet - Vespa crabro

Hornet - Vespa crabro

Hornet - Vespa crabro

Hornet - Vespa crabro

26 September 2010

Late September

Bright "crisp" days

Rose Hips - Brightening up the hedgerows

"What you lookin' at"

Southern Hawker - Aeshna cyanea

Southern Hawker - Aeshna cyanea

Southern Hawker - Aeshna cyanea

There are a lot fewer insects about now but I spotted this Dragonfly which was sunbathing and I managed to creep up on him until I was only 1/2 metre away and he was totally unbothered by my presence. Often wondered how people manage to get so close to these dragonflies when they usually fly about so fast you can't tell what species they are. I guess it is just a matter of catching them at a lazy moment.

He eventually flew away when a Crane fly came blundering across the ground as they do and bumped into him!

Shield Bugs

Forest Shieldbug - Pentatoma rufipes

Superficially similar to the Sloe Shieldbug (below) especially in the field but the easiest way to differentiate the Forest bug is by its square shoulders.

Sloe Shieldbug - Dolycoris baccarum

Which reminds me..soon time to collect sloes for Sloe Gin.

Corizus hyoscyami

I might start calling this the Thistle shieldbug because I always seem to find it in thistles. Although I have just read on the internet that the Dutch call it the Cinnamon Bug because it smells of cinnamon.
I'd better make sure there is no one watching if I try that ID trick, could look very odd!

Fly Agaric

Fly Agaric - Amanita Muscaria

Probably the most easily recognised mushroom in UK and the basis for many illustrations for children's fairy stories etc. It really is this strikingly red in real life but it fades with age and becomes less attractive. I found many in the woods but this was the prize specimen and most of the others were old, faded and tattered.

They are widespread and  quite common in the right habitat which is acidic soils and especially where there are birch trees. If you aren't very good at trees (and I'm not) then you may at least be able to identify Silver Birch by its silver bark so look around those. If you are lucky enough to find some then hunt around for that prime specimen.

After the initial dome shape they become theclassic convex mushroom shape and then flat topped, all the time getting more faded and ragged (See below).


23 September 2010

Trench Wood

I visited Trench Wood reserve at the weekend and it was starting to feel Autumnal. The temperature had taken quite a drop and it was quite overcast with occasional bursts of sunshine. Butterflies and hoverflies were in very short supply but there were other things to see.

Roe Deer
I saw several Roe Deer and some Muntjac but this was the only one who decided to stop and check me out albeit from quite a distance.

Still a lot of Grasshoppers and Crickets about.

This one was lying in  wait on fern. He wasn't particularly huge but look at the evil looking spikes / hairs on its legs.

There are quite a lot of ladybirds about and often huddled together in groups as opposed to being active. Not sure why this is? It may just be that with the drop in temperature they are less active?


One thing that is in abundance and with huge variety is Funghi. I met an old chap who said that it is the best display of Funghi he has ever seen at Trench Wood and you literally could't walk more than a few paces whithout coming across some. I am pretty ignorant about the different types but here a couple of random pictures.

Cuckoopint / Lord and Ladies

Arum maculatum

This isn't a funghi but was found in the wooded area surrounded by Funghi. It goes by many names( including the more common ones above) and is a plant similar to the Peace Lily. In the Autumn it produces these bright berries which are extremely poisonous and one of the most common causes of accidental plant poisonings. The root, if prepared correctly, can be edible and before the introduction of Tea and Coffee was the basis of a popular beverage.

20 September 2010

Hoverfly - Rhingia campestris

Rhingia campestris

I haven't seen this hoverfly around since April/May so I was pleased to see a number of them at Trench Wood, Worcestershire. Their numbers peak twice in late May / June and late August / September. This is a small but distinctive species of Hoverfly. In flight the Orange abdomen is very apparent but  it's most distinctive feature is it's extended snout. 

The series of photos below clearly show the snout from different angles and demonstrate its purpose which is to store and protect it's large proboscis. The proboscis is larger than most hoverflies which is where it gets it's nickname the Heineken Fly. (it reaches the parts other Hoverflies can't reach!)

It should also be pointed out that there is another Rhingia hoverfly called Rhingia rostrata which is very similar to campestris but less common. It has a slightly shorter snout but in the field and without a comparison available that is not too helpful. However the best way to distinguish them is that camestris has a black line along the side of the abdomen which rostrata lacks. You have to see it from the side like in the two photos above.

31 August 2010

Oversley Wood

A few of the more interesting finds from a recent visit to Oversley Wood.

Digger Wasp - Ectemnius lapidarius

A species of solitary wasp that nest in the ground or rotting wood. They prey on other insects and caterpillars  and drag their prey back to their nest burrows as food for the wasp grubs. This one didn't appear to be hunting but feeding on pollen.

Leaf Beetle ?
This was a tiny beetle on a thistle and  you can see a ladybird in the background to guage the scale. I don't think it is a small ladybird but some kind of leaf beetle or bug. However i have not yet been able to settle on an ID.

Thick-Headed Fly - Conops quadrifasciata
I like these conopid flies which aren't that common , look unusual and go by the rather insulting name of Thick-Headed Flies.

Eriothrix rufomaculata
Another one I hadn't seen before. It is a member of the Tachnid Fly family which are characteristically hairy and is similar to the much more common Tachina Fera except this one is bright red and a lot smaller.

30 August 2010


From Oversley Wood

Red Admiral - Vanessa atalanta

Brimstone - Gonepteryx rhamni

Small White - Pieris rapae

Common Blue - Polyommatus icarus

26 August 2010


Identification Difficulty

These were all taken at Oversley Wood and (I think) demonstrate the difficulty in identifying Grasshoppers.

Should be dead simple , surely? There are only about half a dozen Grasshopper species you are realistically going to come across. trouble is they can come in a variety of colours.

These 4 all look different but I am going to stick my neck out and say that I think that the first 3 are all Meadow Grasshoppers and the 4th may be also.

Meadow Grasshopper?
I love the colours of this one. I think it is a female by the very short wings as the Meadow Grasshopper is flightless and the female has the shortest wings.

Meadow Grasshopper?
Colouring is very different to the one above but it again has the very short wings.

Meadow Grasshopper?
Same again?  What I like about this shot is how it demonstrates how this colour form is perfect camouflage for its environment.

Meadow or Common Green Grasshopper?
I would like this to be another Meadow Grasshopper to reinforce the theme but on this one I do have my doubts. I think the wings might be too long even for a male and if so then it is probably the Common Green.

Common Darter

Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatum

One I didn't have to chase or stalk for a change. Landed in the garden and sat on  a wall for a while.