Sunday, August 02, 2015

JJ goes West....

For the past couple of weeks I have had a change of scenery and a change of county as well. I have been entrenched in deepest, darkest Somerset. The weather could have been kinder, but that's Somerset for you, I have been spoiled by the drier climate of the South East. At least there were bugs a-plenty, enough to hold my interest anyway.

I stayed close to Cheddar Gorge in a pod...



It made a good base from which to explore the area and seemed to be a hit with a comma butterfly that hung around the whole time...



There was also a squirrel that seemed to be busy preparing for winter...







Two of my favourite places were Westhay Moor NNR and Shapwick Moor....



Westhay in particular has some great habitat for insects as well as birds and is known for the fantastic starling murmurations over the Avalon Marshes....


Westhay habitat

One of the first insects I spotted at Westhay, and you'd have had to have had the vision of Stevie Wonder to have missed it, because it is possibly the largest fly I have ever seen, was this horse-fly. I think it is Tabanus bovinus. My reference book says rarely far from water and so that would be right, but I am not sure about the connection to animals, I didn't see any cattle or sheep but maybe there were some.




On this particular day the weather had relented after driving through rain to get to the reserve and when I found this next critter, it was sitting in full sunlight. good for him/her...not so good for photography...


At the time of writing all I know about this rather large weevil is that it is one I haven't come across before. Shouldn't be too difficult to identify you would think with those markings, but thus far it has eluded me. 


On the same fence railing that I saw the weevil, there were a number of these tiny digger wasps buzzing around. I am thinking this might possibly be Ectemnius species, but that's not much more than a guess.                                                                                            
A Digger Wasp-possibly Ectemnius species

At the Shapwick reserve, I spotted my first ever sulphur beetle...well no! I didn't actually. I thought I had, but soon realised that this one is not yellow enough for starters. 




I think it is a leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) and could be one of the Lochmaea species, maybe L.carea? There certainly was plenty of willow present.

I am more certain of this next one. This is my first ever photograph of a 2-spot ladybird. But which one, or are they both 2-spots? I think the first is but what about the one on the right? 


These are not my best ever photos again but it isn't easy to hold a dog lead in one hand and take macro photos with the camera in the other. Excuses over, this is supposed to be an extremely variable species and although the right one looks a bit like a harlequin, I don't think it is....Oh how I may regret saying that!

It is also listed as 'Abundant everywhere', well not in my part of Kent it isn't, unless it has been hiding from me for the past decade and more.

 Just as I was putting the camera gear back in the car to leave, I saw this really yellow looking green-veined white butterfly...


I think it's a female as they tend to have more colour and I wonder if it is the sub species 'sabellicae' ?                      



Back at the pod, a buddleia plant provided another first for me. This fantastic beetle. It's Cetonia aurata, the rose chafer beetle...

A Rose Chafer Beetle (Cetonia aurata)
These beetles are capable of very fast flight and can fly with their wing cases (elytra) down. Usually seen in sunny weather feeding on (although not exclusively) rose petals.

Close by, in fact, running right through the campsite at one point, where my pod was sited, there was a small stream. I had a number of really enjoyable early evening walks along the footpath beside the stream. I watched the swallows expertly flying at great speed over the water in search of a meal. I even enjoyed observing the horses and cattle ...


I attempted to photograph the demoiselle damselflies one evening but soon realised they were still too busy and those that weren't, always seemed to be just out of reach. This was the best of the bunch and it's not good. It's a banded demoiselle with a midge settle on its wing...



 An early morning visit was needed, and so the next day, I was up bright and early before the sun had warmed them up...

Beautiful Demoiselle (m)
Beautiful Demoiselle (m)


There is a little village close to Yeovil where I once lived for a few years, and one day I parked outside of the primary school in Stoke sub-Hamdon to walk the small lane where I remember seeing wildlife when I lived close-by. To my joy, there is now a new woodland, planted for the Queen's Jubilee in 2002. I spend a couple of hours there I guess, and even met some fellow bug-hunters.

My best find was of these tiny shieldbug nymphs...


They were on alder and so recently emerged that I didn't recognise them at all. I guessed they might be early parent bug nymphs as there were parent bugs on the same alder tree...

Parent bug and eggs
 I suppose other possibilities might be birch or hawthorn shieldbugs? I photographed them again after the first moult and this is how they looked...


Certainly not looking like parent bug instars now?

I think that will do for this update. I have close to 700 photos from my trip but many are not usable and the others will wait for another day. I'll maybe just add a couple of scenery shots that I couldn't resist taking...

Glastonbury Tor
A closer look at the Tor

Late evening cattle
I just liked the light!
Until the next time...

6 comments:

  1. Lovely post with stunning photos..
    Amanda xx

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    Replies
    1. Thanks as always Amanda, and first again...;-)

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  2. Gorgeous blog as usual! Have commented on Flickr, but think your weevil could be Hylobius transversovittatus? A very nice find!!
    The beetle I believe to be a cousin of Lochmaea, Galerucella sp. but not sure which!
    I totally love the Rose chafer! They're fab aren't they?
    The Shieldbug hatchlings are indeed Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale. I only know as I found some last month too! ;-)
    The 'Pod' looks interesting!!
    Mx

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I saw that and replied thanks. Thanks for the heads up on that beetle too, will check out your suggestion. Hmmm...you also found some of these shieldbugs! I must seek them out sometime soon. I assume you got to ID them by observing the moults? Surely there's no way to tell at this early stage Maria? Anyhow...mystery solved thank-you.

      The pod was....interesting for sure..delightful actually in lots of ways ;-)

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  3. Sorry the weather was not so great but it must have been nice to have a change of scene. You always find interesting insects wherever you go. Love the cow reflection shot and my favourites are the demoiselles. The one of the banded is my favourite photo even if you are not really happy with it. I think it's perfect! I don't know what the shield bugs are but the nymph photos are wonderful. Hope to see more of your photos from your trip. :-)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mandy. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment for me...

      Yes weather was typical I am afraid but I still had a great time and found lots to do. The cows were great to watch actually and I had been trying to get one drinking from the stream. The demoiselles are such a wonderful insect aren't they, so delicate and almost fairy-like.
      I may well do a follow up post with more pictures from Somerset? I'll have to have another look through my photos and see if anything else would be of interest.

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