Despite the wind and rain of recent days, which continued through part of today, when the sun came out at Cosmeston there were still a few hoverflies about. I’ve forgotten everything I ever knew about hoverflies, which wasn’t much, but I think these are Syrphus sp. (these usually need microscopic examination to identify to species), Eristalis sp. (my photo doesn’t show enough details to be sure which species this is – maybe E. tenax), Eristalis nemorum, and ‘The footballer’, Helophilus pendulus.
This charm of Goldfinches numbered at least 60.
They were feeding in the wildflower fields at Cosmeston this morning, plucking at fluffy seedheads, nibbling at the exposed seeds.
They were skittish though, constantly whirling about from one area to another, into the nearby trees and back again, chattering all the while. Such a pleasure to watch!
It was looking faded, jaded and more than a little tatty but this Common blue butterfly has certainly got staying power. Most of its species have died off now in my local area so it was a delight to see this little one today at Lavernock.
It seems Commas don’t know their road code: no stopping on double yellow lines 24/7 if no signage. Or maybe this Comma thought the sparkling yellow paint was a flower. Luckily, this was on a quiet country lane with little traffic so the butterfly was in no danger. And it did look rather pretty, highlighted by the bright sunshine.
The Autumn migration flow of birds continued through Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, with several species reported: a Redstart, a Whinchat, a Spotted flycatcher and several Stonechats, two of which very kindly popped up in the hedge right in front of me.
I heard them before I saw them.
I’d been smelling the ivy flowers all day, as I walked one of my local circuits, though Cosmeston along to Lavernock and back to Penarth along the coastal path. But I hadn’t noticed any open flowers until I heard the loud buzzing coming from the ivy ahead of me on the path. It was alive with various species of bee and fly and hoverfly. And then I spotted what I was looking for – the ginger fluff and black-and-yellow-stripes of Ivy bees (Colletes hederae), my first for 2019.
This is not the setting I would normally associate with Reed buntings – not a reed to be seen – but this little beauty seemed perfectly at home searching for insects amongst the umbellifers in Cosmeston’s west paddock this afternoon, and the colours made for good camouflage as well.
I think everyone would agree that blackberries, the fruit of the bramble bush, are delicious. I’m not one of those people who risks the almost obligatory scratches to go blackberrying at this time of year – I prefer to leave them to the birds and minibeasts. But, at Cosmeston yesterday, I’d been walking longer than I anticipated and my stomach was rumbling so I thought I’d grab a few to keep me going.
Well, if looks could kill, I would never have made it home because these Red admiral butterflies were absolutely certain the blackberries belonged to them. And they weren’t going to relent, letting me get my hand really close to them without moving a millimetre. One even flew out and ‘buzzed’ me before re-settling on its chosen fruit. I got the message and left them to their feast.
Flies are fascinating!
This bristle-backed orange-and-black beauty, Tachina fera, is commonly seen in Wales and England any time between May and October. These flies produce two broods over the summer months but their life cycle is perhaps not what you might think. Like almost 300 other fly species in Britain, these are parasitoids – the eggs they lay on plant leaves hatch as larvae that burrow their way inside the bodies of other larvae, the caterpillars of several species of moth, which they then proceed to eat to death. It’s a larvae-eat-larvae world out there, folks.