I took two cameras with me to New Hythe yesterday. Part one of this post consisted of pictures taken with my usual camera and all the photos posted today in part two were taken in macro mode with my old camera. The lack of decent light at times and a bit of a breeze made life a bit difficult but it was nice to be looking down instead of up for a change. Especially as there's not too much going on with the birds at the moment.
First under the lens was this seemingly headless ladybird which is the two spot variety. It threw me a bit at first because I was expecting the standard format of red with black spots but these can be quite variable and can occur black with red spots like this one.
SEVEN SPOT LADYBIRD
Below is one of the commonest ladybirds, the seven spotted variety. I was surprised at how shiny the elytra or front wings are, these help protect the hind wings of ladybirds and other beetles and they look as if they've been polished when seen close up. Although harmless it's best not to handle them too much as they can leave a quite strong smelling stain on fingers. This is known as reflex bleeding and is probably a signal to predators of their unpalatable taste.
MARMALADE FLY (EPISYRPHUS BALTEATUS)
When the sun came out I was struck by the sheer quantity of hover flies in the air and on the flower heads where they feed on nectar. There are an awful lot of hover flies in the UK, somewhere in the region of 250 species I believe and they aren't too easy to identify but I think the three pictured below are all Episyrphus balteatus or Marmalade Fly which is a bit easier to pronounce. I think this is one of the commonest species and you'll most likely find them in your own back garden.
Next up is Rhagonycha fulva or Common Soldier Beetle. Common is certainly the word for this one being pretty abundant everywhere it seems. When I was a lad we used to call these bloodsuckers because we thought that's what they did and that's why they were red. Because of this we kept our distance from them but would stamp on them given half a chance. Another quaint name for them is Bonking Beetle, this is due to their tendency to mate in full view on Cow Parsley blooms and any other flower head they can find.
I included the picture below just for the colour really. Unusually there was only the one Cinnabar caterpillar feeding on it's favourite plant, Yellow Ragwort. Normally you would expect to see more all feeding on the same plant. They don't need to hide as their colouring is a warning to predators that they don't taste too good. The adult is of course the Cinnabar moth, found flying in daylight with bright red hindwings.
I managed to get up close and very personal to these Common Blue(I think) Damselflies mating. It doesn't look like a very friendly affair to me but hey, whatever turns you on!