Thursday, 8 September 2016

A Walk Among The Flies And Bees - RSPB Rainham Marshes 8th September 2016

This week I have managed a couple of fairly bird free short walks around the reserve but the insects have more than made up for any autumnal disappointments and only the continued aerial acrobatics of our tenacious dragon hunting Hobbies has focused the eyes up rather than down.
Juvenile Hobby

With the Sea Aster blooming on the foreshore Jerry Hoare and myself have concentrated our efforts on trying to find the rare little mining bee Colletes halophilus which is largely tied to this plant species and after several false alarms with the newly emerging Ivy Bees – Colletes hedera – which are also attracted to the flowers – we have now found a few of this feisty little stripy bee.  

Colletes halophilus

The nearby Ivy here (and in the woodland) is now well populated by its larger more ginger hued cousins. 
Colletes hedera

Back on the tideline the Aster and Bristly Ox Tongue is also attracting countless bumbles including both Brown Banded (Bombus humilis) and Common Carder Bees (Bombus pascorum) as well many fluffy little Shrill Carders (Bombus sylvarum) with their high pitched mosquito humming!

Brown Banded Carder Bee (Bombus humilis) - no black hairs anywhere on the abdomen

Common Carder Bees (Bombus pascorum) scattered black hairs on the abdomen

Shrill Carder Bee (Bombus sylvarum)

Shrill Carder Bee (Bombus sylvarum)

Shrill Carder Bee (Bombus sylvarum)

Wasps and Brown Argus butterflies and many Whites were in attendance and a good look at some of the green bottles revealed quite a few Neomyia just like last year and using Phil Collins handy little id sheets I was able to count bristles and get at least one of them to N. viridiscens.

Neomyia cornicea

Neomyia viridiscens - the 2nd of Phil's handy pointer pics

Neomyia viridiscens- honestly I zoomed in and looked at bristles!

There were plenty of Episyrphus balteatus hoverflies and a couple of the slightly alien looking Eristlinus aeneus with their spotty half hairy eyes.

Eristlinus aeneus

The woodland loop still has plenty of flowering Bristly Ox Tongue and the hoverflies are loving it especially in the early morning sunshine. This morning I picked up four different Eristalis species along with Sphaerophoria scripta, Helophilus pendulus, Syrphus ribesii and a nice female Eupeodes luniger with her lunate spots and dark Y on her frons.

Eupeodes luniger- lunate spots not meeting the edge of the abdomen

Eupeodes luniger- black inverted Y on the frons just above antennae

Eupeodes luniger-

Sphaerophoria scripta

helophilus pendulus

Syrphus ribesii

Back at the Ivy the Ivy Bees were really getting energetic and were getting stroppy with any Honey Bees on their flowers and even the comparatively huge forms of Volucella zonaria and pellucens and Myathropa florea.  

Volucella pellucens

Volucella pellucens

Myathropa flora - I love this fly - not the most Batman of marks on this one!
Rhingia campestris (no rostrata) were delving deeply into the Large Bindweed flowers and an Ectemnius Wasp with a big head (possibly E.cephalotus) was watching for prey.

Rhingia campestris - 'I'm going in Captain'

Rhingia campestris - staggering after leaving the pub

Ectemnius sp

Tomorrow is my last day before I escape back to Lesvos and I will endeavour to get out for a final stroll if I can.
Oh and I think that that is enough scientific sounding entomology for one evening...