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