Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Ramshorns and bellflowers

The flora of Byfield Pocket Park is well-known and rarely presents a surprise. Today however I found a flower which was not just a surprise but a rather spectacular one.


I was checking over some St John's Wort when, among a clump of weedy growth nearby a splash of blue caught my eye.  Closer examination showed that the plant in question was Nettle-leaved Bellflower, Campanula trachelium, a tall and vigorous relation of the Harebell, Campanula rotundifolia, which grows about half a mile away on Solden Hill.

The Nettle-leaved Bellflower is new to Byfield Pocket Park.
31 July, 2019

Several spikes of the bellflower were present, attracting numerous insects, particularly small beetles. It could be a throw-out from a garden but I have not noticed it being grown in Byfield and it is a native plant. The leaves are distinctive and are more important to identification than the flowers.

The form of the leaves is helpful in distinguishing it from other
bellflowers.
Interestingly, the latest flora for Northamptonshire states: 'There are no records of garden escapes in this county'. (Reference 1). The specific name trachelium is also interesting. Basically it means 'neck' and indeed comes from the Greek trachylos, the neck (think trachea). The plant was once reputed to be good for throat ailments and one of its old names is Throatwort.

An oak tree stood nearby and I made a cursory check (I couldn't be too long as I had an appointment at the hairdressers) for galls. Rather pleasingly I found a few specimens of Ramshorn Gall, caused by the wasp Andricus aries. This insect and its gall were unknown in Britain before 1997, when it was found in Berkshire. Since then its spread has been rapid and is well established as far north as Perthshire.


The Ramshorn Gall was in interesting find in the pocket park today
31 July, 2019
In many specimens the 'horns' can become long and rather curved - very ramshorn-shaped. The specimens I photographed were hardly spectacular but interesting nevertheless.

This is a good times of the year to be finding flea beetles. Of course they are completely unrelated to true fleas  but have powerful muscles in their 'thighs', enabling them to jump considerable distances. Often very tiny, (and tricky to identify, Ref. 2) they are a challenge to my little camera and this is the best I could manage.


This metallic-bronze beetle on aspen proved to be Crepidodera aurea.
It is one of the many species of flea beetle in the U.K. 31 July 2019
The specimen shown is Crepidodera aurea, and was on Aspen, Populus tremula. This small (3.5 mm) beetle is widespread in England but was a 'first' for the pocket park, even so it only raises the total to a meagre 117 species. Lots to be done!


References


1. Gent, G. and Wilson, R. (2012) The Flora of Northamptonshire and the Soke of    Peterborough.


2. Hubble, D. (2012) Keys to the adults of seed and leaf beetles of Britain and Ireland.
    Field Studies Council Publications.








Monday, 29 July 2019

In praise of ragwort

It is that time of the year again, when irate farmers rage against neighbours who fail to control Ragwort, allowing the fruits to drift wherever the wind takes them. It is undeniably true that he plant does contain a toxin, pyrillozine, which can be fatal to cattle, but there are no reliable statistics which can be referred to. Informed opinion suggests that the number of fatalities is very small. I'm told that the taste is foul but I rely on the opinions of others for that. Certainly it appears to repel most livestock.


Certainly ragwort is much loved by entomologists and a small clump of the plant, known nowadays as Jacobaea vulgaris (previously Senecio jacobaea), was proving a magnet for insects when I visited Stefen Hill Pocket Park earlier today.


One of the most abundant was Eriothrix rufomaculata. I always find this insect on ragwort at this time of the year, but what the connection is I don't know. My photograph is poor but it does show the rust-red markings on the side of the abdomen which give the insect its specific name, for rufomaculata means, of course, red-spotted. Although in the adult stage it is a nectar feeder, the larvae are parasites of certain moths,  probably pyralids, although evidence is surprisingly limited.


Eriothrix rufomaculata, a tachinid fly very common on ragwort.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 29 July, 2019
I took about a dozen photographs and aborted several more at the last second. But every time I had an insect nicely lined up a butterfly would arrive and disturb my subject. How often this year have butterflies been such a problem!
A marginally better view of Eriothrix rufomaculata:
same plant, same place

The butterflies causing the trouble were, for the most part, Gatekeepers, Pyronia tithonus.

Gatekeeper butterflies are currently abundant in the pocket park.
29 July, 2019
I saw dozens of these pretty insects around; over the pocket park as a whole there must have been several hundreds.

The caterpillars of Cinnabars were present, chomping away at the leaves and stems. Its association with ragwort is reflected in its Latin name, Tyria jacobaeae. I saw none of the adults around, but the next generation appears to be secure.

Cinnabar caterpillars are toxic and thus avoided by most birds. The warning
colours say it all. Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 29 July, 2019
This moth, being day-flying and brightly coloured, is often mistaken for a butterfly. There were lots around last month on, for example,  Drayton Fields allotments, where I took this photograph. It is visiting Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris, a close relative of ragwort, no doubt about to place its eggs on the slightly succulent leaves.






I have given the impression that most of my time today was spent peering at ragwort plants. In fact I spent more time looking at leaf miners and galls in trees and shrubs - not that anything rare or exciting was found. And galls are hardly exciting features for most people unless it is something like mistletoe, technically also classed as a gall.


But who could fail to be thrilled by this example of Aceria macrochela on the leaf of a Field Maple?


Exactly!
Galls cause by the mite, Aceria macrochela. Stefen Hill Pocket Park
29 July, 2019
 




Friday, 26 July 2019

Bumblebees and butterflies



With rain forecast I popped over to Stefen Hill Pocket Park, keen to record a few species whilst the going was good.

As is often the case I made a bee-line for the little pond, with its edging of Purple Loosestrife. The whorls of flowers in their spike-like inflorescence were attracting many insects. Here I made my first mistake.

I am loth to capture bumblebees and I decided that a decent photograph would suffice for the purposes of identification. In any case, I was fairly certain that the species I was interested in was a Vestal Cuckoo Bee, Bombus vestalis. Wrong! (But see footnote)
Vestal Cuckoo Bee on Purple Loosestrife. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
26 July, 2019
On arriving home I found that, according to my books, it could indeed be a Vestal Cuckoo Bee but that species usually has sulphur-yellow patches on the sides of the abdomen in front of the white areas. On the evidence of the photograph it could equally be as Gypsy Cuckoo Bee, Bombus bohemicus, although this has a more northerly distribution.

So I don't know what I had photographed. Moral: a cobbler should stick to his last - which in my case means spiders.

A solitary Buddleia, Buddleja davidii, is present in the pocket park and hitherto I've been dismayed at how few butterflies it has attracted. Today saw a far better display with Commas, Peacocks, Tortoiseshells, Large Whites and Red Admirals tucking in to the nectar. The latter was the largest and gaudiest species present but was clearly feeling grumpy and refused to settle in a convenient spot. I did my best.

Red Admirals were busy on buddleia. Stefen Hill Pocket Park.
26 July, 2019

Benjamin Wilkes, in his book The English Moths and Butterflies, published in 1749, called the species The Red Admirable but other authors went with 'Admiral'. Peter Marren, in his book Emperors, Admirals and Chimney Sweeps, provides compelling evidence that Wilkes was correct and that 'Admirable' should take precedent, being an already established name.

Elsewhere, but not on the buddleia, Gatekeepers were abundant. The common name may have derived from its habit of going back and forth along a particular stretch of hedgerow from gate to gate, as though doing a security check.

Gatekeepers are lively butterflies, but this one stayed put long enough for
a photograph. Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 26 July, 2019
Cherry trees are visited by Lyonetia clerkella in order to lay its eggs on the leaves. Not exciting I know, but I mention it because it is so ubiquitous, and the swirly or squiggly mines left by the larvae so obvious. Down the centre of the mine is a dark line of frass, or poo if you prefer the technical term.

The larvae of Lyonetia clerkella leave distinctive mines in cherry leaves.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 26 July, 2019

It will attack the relatives of cherries and is called (by almost no one, as serious lepidopterists use the Latin name) the Apple Leaf Miner.


Footnote   I put the photograph on Facebook for the experts to examine and they agreed that it was a Vestal Cuckoo Bee. I now feel quite smug!





Wednesday, 24 July 2019

You can't make an omelette...

...without breaking an egg, or so the saying goes (an excuse for many an act of political malfeasance). In this case the context was Byfield's pocket park, for when I arrived there this morning I had something of a shock.


Drastic control measures in Byfield Pocket Park. 24 July, 2019

About 150 square metres of vegetation had been cut down, leaving around half a doves young trees standing. But to be fair the rampant growth of hogweed, nettles and rose-bay willow herb did need clearing and the work has been done sympathetically and the most valuable patch in terms of wild flowers had been saved. This consisted of a strip of land on the south of the patch containing black knapweed, St John's wort, medick and some hogweed.


The most floriferous area has been spared.
Certainly lots of insect life remained. It consisted of, for the most part, commonplace species but I gathered a few specimens which, for the most part, I suspected would be new records for the site.

The Swollen-thighed Beetle, Oedemera nobilis, was common, and if the thighs (femorae)
look slim it's because this is a female.

The females of Oedemera nobilis lack the swollen thighs of the male.
Byfield Pocket Park, 24 July, 2019
Bugs were common too, almost to the point of abundance. Most people are probably not familiar with bugs but some are stunning insects. They differ from beetles in several respects but perhaps most distinctively in their mouthparts, a bug having a syringe-like mouth for piercing a plant (or animal) and extracting fluids. The species shown below seems to be Closterotomus norwegicus, strangely called the Potato Capsid Bug, though with no obvious links to taters.


Potato Capsid Bug on Black Knapweed. Byfield Pocket Park.
24 July, 2019
So, drastic management measures have been taken but the consequences should, given time, be beneficial.



Monday, 22 July 2019

Veneers and ladybirds



In my last blog I welcomed the arrival of rather heavy rain during the last 72 hours. Today (Monday) the sunshine has returned, bringing hot, humid conditions. Had there been any obvious effects? I strolled over to Stefen Hill Pocket Park to have a shufti.


There were plenty of insects about, including a skittish Silver-washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia, taking to the wing every time I approached within camera distance. As I approached a cherry tree in a final and abortive attempt to get a picture I noticed a ladybird. It has emerged within the past 12 hours from its pupal case, the black, shrivelled object apparently being inspected by its former occupant.

Seven-spot Ladybird? Probably, but I'll never know.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 22 July, 2019
Most insects that emerge from a pupal case or cocoon are soft-bodied and often pale; they are in what entomologists call a teneral condition.  The species shown is probably a
7-spot Ladybird, Coccinella 7-punctata, but teneral or not it flew off before I could get a closer look. Over the next 48 hours or so it will develop its spots to look more like the ladybird we expect.

As I trudged through an area of rather long grass a number of moths were disturbed and fluttered away. They were grass moths which, usually being the colour of dried grass are often lost to sight when they settle. Today I decided to follow one, tracking it down until it could be photographed. It turned out to be a specimen of the Garden Grass-veneer, Chrysoteuchia culmella.

Chrysoteuchia culmella is one of the commoner grass moths.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 22 July, 2019

Several broadly similar species of these grass moths are found in Britain. They are generally nondescript species, lacking bright colours but, as I have suggested, perfectly camouflaged for life in the grass. Not surprisingly it was a new species for the pocket park, bringing to total up to 220.

The hoverfly, Myathropa florea, is more colourful but had already been recorded from this site before. It is a rather good mimic of certain bees.

The 'Batman Hoverfly' (note the logo behind the head) is a very common
insect. Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 22 July, 2019

The pocket park is not the place to go if it is wild flowers you are after but the Red Campions, Silene dioica, were flowering well and bore some interesting patched on the leaves. Clearly caused by insects, I'll keep an eye on these patches over the next two or three weeks.
Red Campion flourishes in western Northamptonshire.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 22 July, 2019

I am optimistic that the items brought home will contain new specimens for the pocket park and by the year's end the total should near three hundred.




Sunday, 21 July 2019

Water Plantain - a boring blog just for me

The parched fields around Daventry are currently receiving a real soaking. Shame it has come at the height of the insect season but the plants really needed it, and the pond in our local pocket park should, if not re-fill, at least get a boost.


Speaking of the pond, last time I visited it I got a slightly better picture of the Water Plantain. It belongs to a  small but particularly interesting plant family, the Alismataceae.


Water Plantain, Alisma plantago-aquatica grows in the little pond at
Stefen Hill Pocket Park.19 July, 2019

Many people, even non-botanists, will be aware that the world of flowering plants can be divided into two groups. First there are the monocotyledons - nowadays generally shortened to monocots - with strap-shaped or sword-shaped leaves. The leaves have near-parallel veins running the length of the leaf and the group includes grasses, daffodils, irises, orchids and the like. They rarely form trees, palm trees being one of the exceptions. Then there are the dicotyledons - dicots - whose leaves may be heart shaped, oval or divided like the rather well-known cannabis plant; they may even be split into separate leaflets, like the horse-chestnut. Dicots include many trees.

The Alismataceae are monocots yet their leaves could easily be mistaken for those of a dicot (the strap-shaped leaves in the first picture are those of yellow iris). Yet the structure of the flower - the petals, sepals and stamens - are extremely similar to those of buttercups, and particularly spearworts, in the dicots. But the rather blurred picture, lifted from the internet, shows that the spearworts have the strap-shaped leaves similar to those of a monocot.




The situation has exercise the minds of botanists for a century or more and now modern techniques of genetic analysis may provide some answers.


Thursday, 18 July 2019

Beauty and the Beast

I toddled along to Byfield Pocket Park yesterday. Now it is more effectively managed the flowers are thriving and, with them, insects too.


Dominating things is Rose Bay Willow Herb. To eradicate this would require the use of a weedkiller and this is something were are not prepared to contemplate. And who would want to get rid of this lovely species anyway?


Rose Bay is almost too exuberant in Byfield Pocket Park.
17 July, 2019
The species has a curious history. A hundred years ago it was a relatively uncommon plant of woodland clearings and wayside. Then came war. Among the ruins of bombed buildings the plant suddenly flourished, giving it the alternative name of Fireweed. Why this happened is a bit of a puzzle. Was it due to a genetic change, giving the species more vigour? Anyway, it is now one of our most familiar wild flowers - but it still likes abandoned building sites.

A few years ago I found just a couple of specimens of Perforate St John's Wort, Hypericum perforatum, among the Rose Bay. Yesterday I counted a dozen or so. I think that on an earlier visit a seed got stuck on my muddy shoes and now there are plants in our front garden. I haven't the heart to remove them. (The same thing has happened with Yellow Rattle and we now have a small colony of that too.)

St John's Worts are instantly recognisable. This is Perforated St John's Wort.
Byfield Pocket Park, 17 July, 2019





Among the other plants a colony of melilot has appeared. It is Ribbed Melilot, Melilotus officinalis, probably an introduction from South-east Europe but now very widespread. The presence of this clover relative can be detected before the plant is even seen, for it releases a lovely scent of coumarin, the same smell as that of new-mown hay.


Bees love it. Ribbed Melilot has formed a significant colony in Byfield
Pocket Park. 17 July, 2019
Black Knapweed, Centaurea nigra, I have mentioned before. It is a magnet for several species of picture-winged fly, member of the Tephritidae family. Like the St John's Wort and the Melilot it can be an untidy plant, but is very welcome.

Clearly related to thistles but without the spines, Black Knapweed is
flourishing in the pocket park. Byfield, 17 July, 2019
All these plants attract insects but the most valuable of plants in this respect is surely Hogweed. It is particularly attractive to beetles and the photograph shows dozens of pollen beetles busy on the umbels of flowers. I took a couple to identify but haven't got around to it yet.

Covered in pollen beetles (woe betide anyone wearing yellow clothes),
Hogweed is a valuable plant for wildlife. Byfield Pocket Park. 17 July, 2019

Many more flowers were present but now for the beast bit. A person or persons had torn a 'Please take your litter home' sign from its moorings and hurled it over the nearby fence, together with a load of litter. A refuse bin was five yards away. Too far to walk of course!
What can I say?
I did my Boy Scout bit and cleared it (not that I have ever been in the Scouts) but we really have a problem with a small but significant sector of our population that shows contempt for society as a whole.

Nil illegitemi carborundum!




Tuesday, 16 July 2019

It ain't half hot Mum

A sweltering day, but Chris and I were determined to go out. I'd had my pills and so was fit to go whilst Chris had packed her bags to go to the Buddhist Centre at Thornby. So medication and meditation were the order of the day.


I swept a fine Red-legged Shieldbug from an oak tree just inside Kentle Wood. It was such a dark specimen that I at first though it was a different species but no, Pentatoma rufipes it was.


This was a particularly dark example of the Red-legged Shieldbug
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 16 July, 2019
The black and white chequered connexivum (just showing, left, rear) and the bright yellow tip to the scutellum are distinctive. A handsome beast!


There were quite a few butterflies on the wing but only four species were represented: Meadow Brown (lots), Gatekeeper (a few), Skippers (just one, too fleeting to be identified) and one Marbled White. The last species paused long enough for a photograph.


As this was the only Marbled White I saw it was lucky that it paused long
enough for a photograph. Kentle Wood, 16 July, 2019
Like the Meadow Brown and the Gatekeeper, its caterpillars feed on grasses. No shortage there. 

As is often the case the Gatekeeper (once known as the Hedge Brown) refused to play ball and kept its wings closed, but the double white dots on the forewing is distinctive.

Gatekeepers were very common so I ought to have done better with my
photograph. Kentle Wood, 16 July, 2019
Oak leaves are now getting extensively mined. They aren't always pretty but they are pretty useful (see what I did there?) in establishing what insects are present. So this distinctive mine shows that Dyseriocrania subpurpurella is around.

The mines of Dyseriocrania subpurpurella were extremely common on oak.
Kentle Wood, 16 July, 2019



It's another case of a tiny moth bearing an inordinately long 'Latin' name. Its English name is the Common Oak Purple, but I doubt that many people actually call it that.


Almost the last sweep of the net landed a pair of Hawthorn Shieldbugs. I let them go for their good work to continue. Bless!
Hawthorn Shieldbugs.  Need I elaborate? Kentle Wood.
16 July, 2019
 



Monday, 15 July 2019

Round and round the garden

Our garden, like many others, is full of colour and interest at the moment. Most of the colour is provided by flowers, although not necessarily in a conventional manner.


Our Clematis x cartmanii makes an attractive sight, but a closer look shows that it is the long carpels that are providing the display. The tepals (the plant has no true petals) have fallen weeks ago but the show goes on.


Clematis x cartmanii is still producing a lovely display.
Our back garden, Stefen Hill, 15 July, 2019 
Our rose, 'Benjamin Britten' has disappointed. It isn't the fault of the plant but it is in a tub, which I have probably under-fed. However 'Claire Austin' is in a raised bed and has flourished, with some enormous trusses of flowers.
This David Austin rose, 'Claire Austin', has produced wonderful trusses of
very fragrant flowers. Our garden again, 14 July, 2019



Our pears have developed what I believe to be Pear Blister Mite and will have to go. In fact one has gone already and I have replaced it with a specimen of Eucryphia x intermedia 'Rostrevor'. I have admired Eucryphias for years but have never seen one offered for sale. However, I found one at John's Garden, a fine plant centre near Kingswinford, not far from Dudley.
I am hoping that this Eucryphia x intermedia will flourish backed by our
garage wall. Stefen Hill, Daventry. 15 July, 2019
Fortunately I had some garden vouchers with me, kind gifts for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I snapped it up. Eucryphias are members of the Cunoniaceae, a rather small family confined to the Southern Hemisphere. It may be a foreigner but bees have already shown that they like it.

Speaking of insects, some of the garden colour has been provided by butterflies such as this Small Tortoiseshell here visiting our thyme.

Small Tortoiseshell butterflies have so far been less common than in
previous years. On thyme in our front garden. Stefen Hill, 14 July, 2019

Equally common but usually overlooked is this tiny but very pretty moth, photographed on one of the lavenders. It is the Mint Moth Pyrausta aurata. Mint, lavender and thyme all belong to the Lamiaceae Family, so not surprisingly this purple and gold species commonly visits gardens.

This little Mint Moth was a welcome sight on our lavender.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 15 July, 2019
Also on the lavender were two or three specimens of Scaeva pyrastri. Many hoverflies are black and yellow or black and orange; this species is black and almost-white and is known as the Pied Hoverfly.
The Pied Hoverfly is back with us, enjoying our lavender.
Stefen Hill., Daventry. 13 July, 2019 
I was pleased to see it because the species seems unable to survive British winters and (don't tell the Daily Fail) its presence is due to migration from the continent. Annual numbers vary but in some years the species is extremely common.

In the open countryside some insects have been alarmingly low in numbers. Fortunately our gardens can act as oases for some, if only to re-fuel.








Saturday, 13 July 2019

Around the Hornet

Popped over to the local pocket park today, having not been there for 72 hours. It won't do!



The weather was cloudy but warm and pleasant, and there were quite a few insects about. I decided to make my first target the little pool. Would it have dried up again?
On the way I spotted a pale coloured moth on the foliage of a field maple but, although I approach carefully it fluttered deeper into the foliage, clearly camera-shy. It was a Satin Wave, Idaea subsericeata, by no means a rare moth, although it does begin to peter out beyond the Staffordshire-Nottinghamshire area.
Satin Wave on Acer foliage. Stefen Hill Pocket Park, Daventry.
13 July, 2019


Stap me if I didn't see another moth a few moments later! This pale green species was on a beech tree and the chequered edging to the wings identified it as a Common Emerald, Hemithea aestivaria, a species whose caterpillars feed on the leaves of many deciduous trees.


A battered Common Emerald on Field Maple. Stefen Hill Pocket Park.
13 July, 2019


It had clearly led a rough life but, battered or not, it was another addition to the pocket park list.

Arriving at the pond I was rather disappointed that it had dried up again, doubtless with some consequent mortalities. But there were interesting plants in flower including the Common Water Plantain, Alisma plantago-aquatica.
I was pleased to find Common Water Plantain in the dried-up pond.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 13 July, 2019



It is a very common aquatic, and seems particularly abundant around the Welsh Marches. Here in Northamptonshire it appears to be thinly spread, but this could be a consequence of inadequate recording.

Also in full flower were specimens of Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria. This is among Britain's loveliest flowers, and insects were finding it attractive too.

Purple Loosestrife is now flowering profusely. Stefen Hill Pocket Park.
13 July, 2019
.
The Greeks believed that feeding it to oxen would prevent quarrelsome behaviour - they would 'lose strife'.
A closer look at the Loosestrife flowers.



The genus Lythrum gives its name to the Lythraceae Family and, as I have mentioned before, is unrelated to the Yellow Loosestrife, which is a member of the Primrose Family, Primulaceae.

The pocket park was not done with me yet. I was just about to photograph a figwort when my eye caught something stirring near my feet - a hornet! I stepped back carefully and as I did so I realised that it was something far more interesting. it was a hornet mimic - a moth in fact.
This was a real surprise! Lunar Hornet Moth, here on Common Figwort.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park. 13 July 2019

It was a Lunar Hornet Moth, Sesia bembeciformis, one of the clearwing moths. This cannot be seem from the photograph as the insect's wings were moving so fast but, unlike most moths, the wings were clear, like a wasp or a fly. The grubs live for two years feeding inside willow trunks before emerging and the adults are not commonly seen.

Figwort flowers in Stefen Hill Pocket Park. 13 July, 2019





Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Byfield: bugs and hazel

The weather was fine when I visited Byfield Pocket Park earlier today. The insects have generally increased in abundance over the past week or so, but I wasn't expecting any dramatic finds. Nor were there.


I closely examined a largish plant of Lesser Burdock in the hope of finding some picture-winged flies, i.e. members of the Tephritidae family. I could see none but nevertheless gently swished my net through the leaves. Amazingly I found that I had secured four bush crickets. On another plant nearby I found another one and attempted a photograph but the results were poor and the image below is the best I could do.


The Speckled Bush Cricket is a cunningly camouflaged creature.
 Byfield Pocket Park10 July, 2019
I released all the captives having examined them and satisfied myself that they were Speckled Bush Crickets, Leptophyes punctatissima. They are wingless creatures and, as the name suggests, covered in little black speckles. Despite their inability to fly it is a widespread species, found abundantly over southern England the Midlands.

There were many hogweed plants in flower so it was no surprise to find Cheilosia illustrata present. It is very distinctive among Cheilosia species and hogweed flowers are a favourite re-fuelling point. The species was a male, the compound eyed almost touching in the middle, i.e. holoptic.


Cheilosia illustrata is known as the Bumblebee Cheilosia, but the mimicry
 seems not entirely convincing. Byfield Pocket Park, 10 July, 2019

I found also the strange nymph of the Tree Damsel Bug, Himacerus apterus. It is a common species and perhaps only significant to the pocket park in that it becomes the 100th species I have recorded there.

Inevitably this number will increase as I sort through the other insects found today but I will end with a photograph of hazel fruits.

The fruits of the Purple-leaf Filbert. Lovely!
Byfield Pocket Park, 10 July, 2019
(Warning: may contain nuts)

I suffered some form of mental aberration yesterday and rambled on about beeches. I fact the fruits featured were those of a hazel or, to be more precise, the Purple-leaf Filbert, Corylus maxima 'Purpurea'  My apologies to my readers who may have suffered an attack of apoplexy!  But in either case the colour is due to the presence of some form of anthocyanin pigment. And the nuts should taste good if I can beat the grey squirrels to them.