Thursday 22 March 2018

Wet Flies and Limp Moths

RSPB Rainham Marshes 22nd March 2018 

I rescued a fly from the water trays by the bird feeders at work today as not only was it flailing around helplessly but it also looked like a hoverfly which made it doubly interesting.

I fished him out and put the poor little bedraggled beast on a leaf while I continued topping up the feeders before transporting him back into the centre.

About as wet as a fly can get

I could immediately see that it was probably not an Eristalis as the shape was wrong and the lack of fat femurs ruled out tenax and the dark feet pertinax.

He was so wet that at first the eyes looked deformed and pitted before a hand lens revealed that the peaks were actually little clumps of hairs stuck together. There was a rim of blond hairs around the side of the thorax like on some of the smaller mining bees and the wings were very long.

Slowly drying out

It felt like a Cheilosia but this group of Hovers are notoriously difficult but I went with my hunch and searched through Ball & Morris anyway where much to my delight the rather fluffy, long winged early flying Cheilosia grossa fitted the bill even down to the now visible black antenna and orange femurs. This was a new species for both me and RSPB Rainham Marshes and fine start to the Hoverating season.

Cheilosia grossa - feeling better

Cleaning those wings...

It took about forty minutes for him to sort himself out and after some superb washing and cleaning action I took him outside and let him out onto the blooming Rosemary.  Hopefully he will find some nice sallow to feed up on after his near fatal skinny dipping session.

And to continue the insect theme for a cool March day we were lucky enough to watch a newly emerged Angle Shades pump up his wings before heading out into the world...

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