bombus hypnorum, bombus pratorum, coenonympha pamphilus, Early Bumblebee, grayling, Great Pied hoverfly, hipparchia semele, importance of bramble flowers to insects, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, myathropa florea, pararge aegeria, Pellucid fly, Red Admiral, small heath, speckled wood, syrphus species of hoverfly, tree bumblebee, Volucella pellucans
June 23rd- Bryn Euryn
Bramble flowers are an important source of nectar and pollen for many species of insects and today, a large tangled patch of blackberry brambles in a sunny spot on the sheltered Woodland Trail was alive with an array of bumblebees and hoverflies.
Since living here I have begun to recognise the most obvious and more commonly-occurring species of hoverflies, and they don’t come much bigger or more obvious than the handsome Pellucid Fly (Volucella pellucens), aka the Great Pied Hoverfly. This is one of the largest most obvious and recognisable of our British hoverflies.
Yellow-and-black stripes are the well-used livery of many hoverfly species and sorting out the different species accurately, especially the small ones, requires more skill and knowledge than I have at the moment, or at least some crystal clear images of certain parts of them.
Bigger yellow and black species are a little easier, especially if they have good clear markings, such as sported by this new-to-me, or at least newly identified Myathropa florea (no common name). I was aided and amused in this ID by a tip from the author of my Hoverfly bible¹, who suggests that the lower marking on the thoracic dorsum (part behind the head) resembles the Batman logo. Well, in a nice fresh clearly marked individual it does!
One of the only small hoverflies that is unique and distinctive in its markings and has earned a common name is the Marmalade Fly Episyrphus Baltaetus. This one was hovering at just about my head height, darting hither and thither in a patch of sunlight in defence of his territory. The image of him in the photograph is still bigger than he was.
There were bumblebees aplenty, mostly Red-tailed, White tailed and Common Carders, but also Tree Bumblebees and a few little Early Bumblebee workers.
The number of Tree Bumblebees here has increased greatly over the last few years. I used to see them mainly in early Spring in the Quarry field on Green Alkanet flowers, and maybe the odd one or two further afield. Now they are present in all parts of the site and can be spotted on an array of flowers through to the end of the summer.
Not bramble related, but a special treat was a very brief encounter with a Grayling. On the track up to the summit it literally landed in front of me, sat on a small rock for a few seconds then took off into the breeze.
The same strong breeze that carried away the Grayling was keeping the Small Heaths tucked down in the grass, but I finally managed to get an almost-clear view of one feeding on Wild Thyme.
Walking back down through the woods on the way home, a Red Admiral startled me when it flew up from a bramble at the side of the track. It settled back down when I stopped, then flew out again – the feisty thing was deliberately warning me to get out of his space! He sat brazenly on a leaf at about my eye level and reared up defiantly as I approached with the camera, not giving an inch and I’m sure trying to stare me down! Loved his attitude.
References: ¹ Britain’s Hoverflies – Stuart Ball and Roger Morris