A Swanwick Cook-out

Back from my week of holiday in more or less sunny Devon and out to Swanwick today where both the local reserve and Beechcroft volunteers were working today. In fact I never got more than about 50m from the Centre, but I know they were all very busy. In the afternoon we had our 20th Birthday event for the volunteers, a less formal event than the earlier one and more of a “Thank you” for the twenty year of hard work that have made the reserve what it is today. We had a barbecue with loads of salad and more cake than anyone should realistically attempt.

the cooking crew (Jess and Rob)

the cooking crew (Jess and Rob)

The wild angelica near Centre Lake is flowering well now, it is a great plant for insects, like pretty much all the Umbellifers, apparently this is because their pollen in very protein-rich.

wild angelica

wild angelica

It grows amongst lots of fleabane, which is also very good for feeding insects, although in this case the main attraction is nectar I think..

On both plants most of the insects were bumble-bees, but there were also a good few others including lots of soldier beetles.

soldier beetle

soldier beetle

Looking a bit harder I realised that one of the bumble-bees was not what it seemed, rather it was a hoverfly dressed up to look like a bumble-bee.

Criorhina berberina

Criorhina berberina

Pretty convincing it was too, as you can judge for yourself. it looks like one of the brown-haired species, the commonest of which is the common carder bee. This is one of a number of similar hoverfly species, none of which are very common, but then they are easy to overlook where there are lots of bees. As I was taking the picture above with my camera in hand held very still to get close in, a common darter dragonfly landed on my hand. I very gently moved the camera to my left hand and got a picture of it too.

common darter on hand

common darter on hand

Out on the reserve another female purple emperor was seen today, this time nectaring on fleabane on New Hill. White admiral was also reported. Dragonflies included a common hawker which got trapped in the Centre, I have not seen one for some years as they are actually not at all common in Hampshire. On Centre Lake a brood of small little grebe chicks have appeared since my last visit.

As well as bringing along some excellent food contributions one of the volunteers arrived with a large caterpillar, it was an elephant hawk-moth, fully grown and wandering about looking for a good place to bury itself and pupate.

elephant hawk moth caterpillar

elephant hawk moth caterpillar

Off to Farlington tomorrow, with a range of task on the list, all being well we should get a few more jobs done.

 

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