Monday, July 13, 2020

Hoverflies and humpty back shaggers...

Despite the impression of the title, I am not talking about some of our more rural hill going Northumberland locals. All will be revealed later...

July in upland Northumberland isn't a great place for a birder. Its usually very quiet indeed, but if you have an open mind to other forms of wildlife, you can always find something of interest.

Yesterday morning was such a walk for John  and myself as we dropped inland, only 10 miles or so from my house. Our venue was the moor and forests west of Alnwick. I wont give a grid ref  as there are many similar areas in the county where exploration could give similar rewards.

One reason I have often avoided our midsummer moorland is often due to the large numbers of biting insects that just love me. Clegs, Mozzies and Midgies all home in, but they weren't too bad on Sunday due to the breeze. Here are some photos from the morning...

First thing we found very soon after leaving the car was this large female Adder basking on the track side. She was obviously well warmed because  as I tried to close in for a photo she was gone into cover in a flash, before I was anywhere near.

The tracksides were great for inverts. This one was south facing and sheltered from the wind so Hoverflies and Butterflies were in good numbers... I only took my macro lens on the DSLR and my point and shoot for habitat shots so didn't get any of the birds we encountered, so I'll get them out of the way.

We had 2 Raven, sev Buzzard inc young calling, several Crossbills and Redpolls over, 9 Tree Pipits based on two family parties, 3 Stonechats, a family group of 3 Redstarts, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, plus Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Whitethroats. This was much more than expected up here at this time of year. I might have had a few shots if I had the right gear? So back to the job in hand...

Butterflies were dotted around with many Ringlets and Meadow Browns, 8+ Small Skipper, 7+ Red Admiral, 3 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Small Heath and 4 Common Blues. Moths made an appearance too with red necked Footman and Latticed Heath.

Trackside flora.

Red necked Footman

Small Heath

Small Skipper
The only Odonata representative was the spectacular Gold-ringed Dragonfly with a single that did its best to keep hidden. I couldn't get near it so only have this record shot. Soon, Black Darters will be on the wing here.

Gold-ringed Dragonfly
The real stars of the show were the hoverflies but I'll start the pics with a lifer Bumblebee, Bombus jonellus. Tricky things, bees...

Bombus jonellus
Chrysotoxum arcuatum 

The nationally scarce Megasyrphus erraticus

Sericomyia silentis

Sericomyia lappona

Volucella bombylans
Referring back to the title, these Conopid Flies, Sicus ferrigineus were all over the damp areas. Ugly, hump backed bow legged critters as soon as another one landed nearby it was pounced upon! Whilst they would win no prizes in the beauty stakes, they pretty much kept to themselves.

Sicus ferrigineus or Humpty backed Shaggers to us.

 The walk back, down hill gave some great views over our countryside. All in all it was a good morning out.

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