Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Ramsden Corner

May 11, 2014, and a group of dipterists met to survey this pretty reserve, mainly looking at two-winged flies. The sky was grey, the wind blustery and chilly and a little drizzle dampened our clothing - but was I downhearted? Yes, a bit. Bright sunshine would have made a lot of difference.

A splash of colour from Yellow Archangel, Lamiastrum galeobdolon, greeted us at the site entrance.

This plant, often cited as an indicator of ancient woodlands, is scattered throughout the county but is never common. The subspecies argenteum, with silvery patterning on the leaves, is often grown in gardens, where it can become a nuisance. It then gets thrown out, establishing itself here and there. 

The first part of the reserve is sheep-grazed pasture on acid soil. I spent a little time here, taking a few flies, but soon moved on into fine oak-dominated woodland. The other members of the group - John Showers, Graham Warnes, Kevin Rowley and Jolyon Alderman - are all experienced dipterists; I largely left the flies to them and sought other insects and spiders.
The moth, Adela reamurella, at Ramsden Corner.
11 May, 2014

Quickly catching my attention was an extraordinary moth. A micro-moth in the family Adelidae, this species, Adela reamurella, has antennae 3 times as long as the forewing. Its bronze wings gleamed even in the weak sunshine. My not-very-good photo does enough to allow a glimpse of the antennae.

Bugle, Ajuga reptans, at Ramsden
Corner,  11 May, 2014

The woodland interior was a sea of Bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta. Was it my imagination or were the the flowers a deeper blue than those usually encountered? Greater Stitchwort, Wood Sorrel and Bugle were also present.

Contrary to my expectations insects were present in abundance though some seemed a little torpid in the chilly conditions.

Panorpa communis was common in the woodland.
Ramsden Corner, 11 May, 2014

Several Scorpion Flies were noted and, although I only took one for examination and it proved to be the common Panorpa communis. Also noted was the superb cranefly, Tipula maxima. As the name indicates, it is a very large insect and is Britain's largest cranefly. There was no need to capture one, any more than a birdwatcher would need to capture, for example, a nightjar to prove its presence.

Syrphus ribesii was seen 'loafing' on a leaf. This specimen
is a male. Ramsden Corner, 11 May, 2014

The wasp-like Syrphus ribesii is one of Britain's commonest hoverflies. It was one of several species noted. Its larvae are valuable to gardeners as they feed on aphids, helping to control these virus-spreading pests. 

Blotch-mines on leaves are often seen and can usually be identified with some certainty, but this striking example on a bramble leaf has me stumped. It is a little like those of the moth,Coleophora potentillae but differs in several respects. But it could also be a fungus. Investigations continue...

So, despite unpromising weather, much of interest was seen. I still have a number of specimens to examine but I took around forty species and the group as a whole is likely to have recorded the best part of a hundred. I intend to return later in the year.

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