Had intended targeting Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary , followed by Silver Studded Blue today , but the forecast of an Autumnal day had me cancelling that last night .
The sun was shining first thing this morning , so , after dropping Carol in town , I went for a look around Spring Park pond . Spring Park is the continuation of a large area of football and rugby pitches , which had recently been mowed . I entered where the two join to find a very large flock of Starlings , fossicking amongst the cut grass , frequently lifting en masse for no apparent reason , then settling again . Nearby were some larger birds , and with binoculars could see that they were Mistle Thrushes , 10 of them , and it was good to see that several of these were juveniles too . Walking along the woodland edge towards the pond , lots more Harlequin Ladybirds , some without any spots at all , and others with spots ranging up to 18 . But , I think I have found out whats causing the large numbers being found . Apart from the Harlequins , many other insects were sheltering in the Nettles and Brambles , including a couple of Hover-flies that I don't think I've come across before . The first was unusual as most are black/yellow , this one , Scaeva pyrastri , is black/dirty white . The second , in the more usual livery , Chrysotoxum festivum . I just hope that the IDs are correct . Two large flies close together caught my attention , and looking them up when I got home , found that they go by choice name of Flesh Flies-Sarcophaga carnaria . By the time I reached the pond , the clouds had started to roll in and found no Odonata at all . On the way back to the car , I had a look at the Peacock caterpillars , deep in a stand of Nettles . They have grown considerably , but also reduced in number , probably due to bird predation . Now they are larger , the identifying white spots and pink/orange legs are easier to see . Of interest , if a large number of black caterpillars are found together on Nettles , they will be either Peacock , or Small Tortoiseshell . The white spots identify Peacock and yellow lines on the sides , running the length of the caterpillar identify Small Tortoiseshell . Both the Red Admiral and Comma use stands of Nettle for egg laying , but both these species lay their eggs singly .
On reaching the gate to the car park , the sun appeared again , and so did a feeding flock of Swifts , as if from nowhere . They must be about the hardest bird to photograph on the wing , but I took several , and these were the better ones , the others were quickly dumped . That blue patch lasted just a couple of minutes before the sky went grey again .
I decided to stop off at the Common on my way home , to check up on the Brimstone caterpillars that were getting close to pupation on my last visit . I found all my 'marked' bushes , the dried grass tied around the branches where I found the largest caterpillars , still intact . But , that was all I did find . No large caterpillars , and no chrysalis . I thought to myself , another year goes by , still not having found one . Leaving the area , I did find a caterpillar on a very small Buckthorn bush , not much more than knee high and only one stem , and no other bushes around it . If it survives , it must pupate on that small bush , and I must find it , mustn't I ? Just before reaching the car , I stopped at the Ash used by the Purple Hairstreaks as a master tree . I didn't expect to find any PHs , too early , but the tree itself doesn't look very well to my eye . Last stop was the Bramble patch on the other side of the clearing , where , in a sheltered spot , I found a female Broad Bodied Chaser , absolutely motionless . I wondered if she was dead , and extended my hand to the Brambles beneath her . I don't know if she felt the warmth of my hand , but she moved onto my fingers and seemed very contented there . After taking a couple of shots , I returned her to the Brambles , just as a watery sun showed through thinning cloud .
And finally , any ideas on this waspy looking specimen , found with the others along the Woodland edge at Spring Park ? With many thanks to ShySongbird/ShySongbird's Twitterings , now identified as Nomada goodeniana , and it wasn't a Wasp after all , but a Bee .
5 hours ago