An ornithologically related lunchtime meeting in the Lee Valley
had given me a day off and so I headed north
of the river quite early with a view to some quality insect time before the
temperatures climbed too high.
Phil had told me last week of a report of two Tachina grossa
(the black, spiky, bumblebee sized fly with a golden Elizabethan ruff) from Havering
Country Park and I was intrigued to go for a look at a site I had never visited and yet
can see up on the ridge beyond Collier Row every day from the centre window at work.
Traffic required a little wiggling but I got there by 7.30
and wandered into the grassy area at the southern end that I had spied via
Google Maps. Nectar sources are now thin on the ground so I knew that I needed
to find a sunlit patch of flowers.
My clockwise circuit quickly suggested that it was already uncomfortably
hot and that there was only the odd Bramble bloom and Ragwort spike to look at.
That said butterflies were already active with Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and
Ringlets flicking around along with Common Blues, Small Copper, three Whites and a delightful
number of Purple Hairstreaks that were coming down to look for moisture on the
Bramble leaves which given that the grass was slightly damp may have paid
|Purple Hairstreak - always a shady spot in the oaks|
Meadow Grasshoppers were already noisy and I spooked one
into the web of my first Wasp Spider this season. They have been a bit thin on the ground at
Rainham so far this year.
|Wasp Spider |
Family parties of Swifts screamed in the blue and it was
encouraging to hear House Martins too in a year when they have been scarce too.
Tit flocks roved and I can imagine flycatchers and warblers caught up with them
over the coming weeks. The views were superb off towards London with the whole
vista spread out and not condensed like I see from the reserve.
hunted the woodland edges but I was still flowerless until I spied a big patch
of lilac Creeping Thistles at the bottom of the cattle paddock. I cut across the
meadow and found myself faced with the most amazing insect concentration I
have seen in a long time.
The next couple of hours were magic albeit in rocketing temperatures
that had me retreating every now and then to the shade of a poplar before
continuing my education.
|The thistle patch of pleasure...|
There were many more flies than bees and I was having my
work cut out switching between Hoverfly and Tachinid id only to realise
that there were more Conopids present than I have even seen before!
- Volucella inanis,
- Volucella pellucens,
- Eristalis tenax,
- Eristalis intricaria,
- Eristalis nemorum,
- Eristalis arbustorum,
horticola - I have never seen this species locally – very striking and quite
large and bright too,
- Syritta pipiens,
- Episyrphus balteatus,
- Syrphus ribesii,
- Myathropa florea,
- Sphaerophoria scripta,
- Cheilosia pagana,
learning but here goes anyway...
- Eriothrix rufomaculata,
- Linnaemya vulpina
- Nowickia ferox,
- Thelaira nigripes
And a Linnaemya
having a nice wash and brush up.... click here
I never did see Tachina
grossa but was impressed with finding species that I had a chance of identifying
and the Nowickia ferox was an imposing
beast of a fly and only my second sighting after one at RSPB Dungeness a few
years back. I am sure if I have made a mistake the knowledgable Mr Collins will assist...
And so to the Conopids:
I did not do too badly with my identification and finding four
different species in numbers, on one thistle patch was very pleasing and
- Conops quadrifasciatus,
- Conops flavipes,
- Sicus ferrugineus
|Sicus ferrugineus |
|Sicus ferrugineus - just good friends...|
The previously mentioned butterflies were scattered over the
flowers with Southern and Migrant Hawkers hunting around and above them, Ruddy
Darters zipping in and out of the hedge and a few very tenacious Hornets
throwing themselves at anything that paused long enough to pounce on.
- Buff-tailed BB – Bombus terrestris,
- White-tailed BB – Bombus
lucorum a nice male
- Red-tailed BB – Bombus lapidarius,
- Common Carder - Bombus pascuorum,
- Southern Cuckoo Bee – Bombus vestalis
|White-tailed BB – Bombus
There were also masses of Honey Bees, Andrena flavipes, several tiny bee species, what looked like Cerceris rybyensis - the
Ornate Tailed Digger Wasp that we get at Rainham, the thistle galls of Urophora
cardui, Soldier Beetles and a few Sarcs,
Lucilia and Muscids.
It was a little after 10am and simply too hot to
be standing around and so I wended my way back to my car that was thankfully
parked in the shade, passing what is quite possibly the best sign I have ever
seen up in a public place...
|Someone had covered the very offensive last word on the other side of the sign...|