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.