Thursday, 12 August 2010

Eyes down at New Hythe

My walk around New Hythe lakes today took place under cloudy skies and a fairly stiff breeze. I'm not going to bang on endlessly about the weather but come on, it's August, what happened to the summer?

The tide was low and still ebbing when I got to the river but the previous high tide must have been a big one as I could see evidence of water coming over the raised track and spilling into the sunken marsh. The high tide today reached 4.6 mtrs and I wouldn't mind betting the last couple of days were slightly higher due to the new moon on the 10th. It's this new moon that should allow us to have great views of the Perseid meteor shower tonight...........................except of course we won't, because of those damned cloudy skies. But never mind there's always next year. I said that last year, and the year before that.

I ended up seeing just 32 species of birds today and none of them gave themselves up easily. I couldn't find anything out of the ordinary so again it was a case of eyes down and see what was around nearer the ground.

A quick look in the East Scrub produced three Slow Worms, two of which were very big and also this young Grass snake and his mate who were snuggled up together in the cool mid morning.
This shows nicely the difference in skin texture between the two, the individual scales of the Grass snake and the glassy smoothness of the Slow worm (left click it). Also apparent is the round pupil of the Grass snake as opposed to the vertically slit pupil of Adders.

There's a small clearing between the railway line and Abbey Mead lake where there is a large Oak and Ash tree. In previous years there has been a colony of Purple Hairstreaks here. With this in mind I waited here a while in the hope of seeing one. Needless to say in the overcast conditions none were seen. But after a while the sun came out and flooded the sheltered clearing with warmth and I was amazed at the instant transformation. Speckled Woods, Holly Blues, Large and Small White butterflies. Damselflies of various shades, hawkers, darters, flies and hoverflies all took to the air in an instant. What a difference the sun makes.
Talking of hoverflies the edge of the lake here was home to quite a few and I spotted a couple of different species I think to those I have posted before. The first two pictured below are (hopefully) Myathropa flores, distinguished by the horizontal stripes on the thorax. These were quite big and could easily be mistaken for wasps.

And finally..................................

The handsome beast below is either Leucozona lucorum or Volucella pellucens but I think it's the former. Either way it's an unusual and interesting looking chap. As I photographed him the sky got even darker and it looked like rain was on the way so I cursed the clouds and headed for home. See, i'm still banging on endlessly about the weather, I just can't help it!

The above has now been ID'd as Volucella pellucens. As ever thanks to Greenie and again thanks to Greg for their help.


Greenie said...

Phil ,
Not banging on about the weather either , but that wind is a pain .
Like the Slow Worm/Grass Snake shot .
32 species wasn't bad given the conditions .
Agree entirely with your Myathropa flores ID ,
but would go for Volucella pellucens for the last one , on abdominal markings and small dark marking near wing tip .

Warren Baker said...

nice snake photo's Phil, take heart, the change in weather will bring a change in birdlife. :-)

Anonymous said...

Greenie's correct, definitely Volucella pellucens - has the upper, outer cross-vein (vein that runs along far edge of forewing) re-entrant (going inwards) which is a character of the Volucellini but not the Syrphini (group L. leucorum is in).


sebi_2569 said...

nice blog and nice photo; bravo