An unreliable memoir

Archive for July, 2015

Geranium pratense

Geranium pratense
Meadow Crane’s-bill, Geranium pratense. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f16 1/125 ISO 400

What’s out there in the dark

Willow Beauty
Willow Beauty, Peribatodes rhomboidaria. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f22 1/250 ISO 100

We puny humans still have the old monkey brain fear of the dark thing going on, which is a shame as I am constantly astounded by the beauty of what’s out there in the dark – such as this magnificent Willow Beauty. It’s enough to make you want to join the dark side. (Although his buddy the demon-eyed lacewing is a bit scary … especially if you’re an aphid).


Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea.

Broad-leaved Helleborine

Broad-leaved Helleborine

Broad-leaved Helleborine, Epipactis helleborine. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f22 1/250 ISO 100

Broad-leaved Helleborine, bringing my season’s orchid count to thirteen:

2015 List (as of 25.07.15)
Early Purple Orchid
Green Winged Orchid
Man Orchid
Common Spotted Orchid
Greater Butterfly Orchid
Southern Marsh Orchid
Heath Spotted Orchid
Fragrant Orchid
Bee Orchid
Wasp Orchid
Pyramidal Orchid
Common Twayblade
Broad-leaved Helleborine

Painted Lady

Painted Lady
Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui. Sony DSC-HX20V f4.5 18mm 1/320 ISO 100

It’s enough to turn a chap’s head – although based on the shape of the abdomen, I think this Lady is a bloke?
Interesting Painted Lady fact: This is the only butterfly species ever to have been recorded in Iceland.

Weevily distinguished

Nettle Weevil
Nettle Weevil, Phyllobius pomaceus. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f22 1/90 ISO 400

I like weevils, but there are so many green ones they are virtually impossible to identify for a mere mortal like me. Unless you catch them munching on their food plant. This is a Nettle Weevil.

That’s not a dragonfly

Common Ragwort
Common Ragwort, Senecio jacobaea. Sony DSC-HX20V f/3.2 4.5mm 1/30 ISO 100

Phew, lets take a break from the excitement of Dragonfly Week by staring at this pretty bunch of flowers.
The observant may notice I snuck a soldier beetle in there. Sorry the white balance if a bit off, this is a compact camera jpeg taken in near darkness so not as much room for processing as with a RAW file.

Autumnal Already

Sulphur Tuft, Hypholoma fasciculare. Sony DSC-HX20V f3.2 4.5mm 1/15 ISO 800

Out early in the morning after the heavy rain and there was a very different feeling. Quite cool and a brown hare which had spent the night sheltering in the wood went crashing away. Lots of fungi have already started to appear, such as these Sulphur Tufts (Hypholoma fasciculare). The second half of the year has begun. Only 151 photography days until Christmas.

Dragonfly Week, Day 6: That’s not a dragonfly

Variable Damselfly
Variable Damselfly, Coenagrion pulchellum. Sony DSC-HX20V f/5 24.8mm 1/160 ISO 250

OK, strictly speaking it’s a damselfly not a dragonfly (wings folded rather than stretched out when perched), but it’s an interesting one, and the rarest species I’ve posted this week.

Hope you enjoyed Dragonfly Week, feedback welcome.

Dragonfly Week, Day 5: Older Than The Dinosaurs

Southern Hawker
Southern Hawker, Aeshna cyanea. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f8 1/60 ISO 200

Nearly there now folks, only one more day to go. Marvel at this magnificent beast – older than the dinosaurs and outlived them in style.

Southern Hawker

Dragonfly Week, Day 4: It’s all downhill now

Common Darter
Ruddy Darter, Sympetrum sanguineum. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f11 1/125 ISO 200

The Darters have emerged. For the rest of the season until the hard frosts come it’ll be Common Darters all the way now. But look closer. That’s not so bad ­čÖé

Common Darter

Dragonfly Week, Day 3: The Hairy Hawker

Brown Hawker
Brown Hawker, Aeshna grandis. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f11 1/180 ISO 200

Not as I first thought a Hairy Dragonfly (the season is already over for them), but a Brown Hawker. Still got a hairy thorax in this macro shot.

Brown Hawker

Dragonfly Week, Day 2: The Emperor

Emperor Dragonfly
Emperor Dragonfly, Anax imperator. Nikon D5200 Tamron 150-600mm f9.5 320mm 1/750 ISO 1000

Twenty years ago there were no Emperor Dragonflies here. Now they are a resident breeding species, but they’re also probably the hardest dragonfly to photograph. These miniature fighter planes fly at over 20 mph, constantly change direction and rarely perch. It took me an hour to get these crummy shots. But what a privilege to have a pair of these buzzing past my head.

Dragonfly Week, Day 1: A Grand Day Out

Broad-bodied Chaser
Broad-bodied Chaser, Libellula depressa. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f11 1/180 ISO 200

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? After several abortive attempts due to adverse weather, we finally hit the jackpot and had a grand day out, recording 11┬áspecies of dragonfly and damselfly:

Azure Damselfly
Black-tailed Skimmer
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Broad-bodied Chaser
Brown Hawker
Common Blue Damselfly
Common Darter
Emperor Dragonfly
Ruddy Darter
Southern Hawker
Variable Damselfly

So I’m declaring this week Dragonfly Week, and I’ll start off with this magnificent female Broad-bodied Chaser.

Is it a bee? Is it a plane?

Volucella bombylans var. bombylans
No, it’s a hoverfly, Volucella bombylans var. bombylans. Sony DSC-HX20V f4 12.2mm 1/320 ISO 100

Bee mimic, and a pretty good one too.


Snipe Fly Chrysopilus cristatus
Snipe Fly, Chrysopilus cristatus. Sony DSC-HX20V f4 8.4mm 1/80 ISO 100

California on Soar

California on Soar

Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f8 1/180 ISO 200

On holiday

Marsh Frog
Nikon D5200 Tamron 150-600mm f8 600mm 1/90 ISO 200

“Short photographic holiday” turned out to mean a few days when I didn’t take any photographs. It rained and it rained and it rained. Then the next day, it did the same. On the last day it rained and it rained and it rained so we went to take pictures of dragonflies. There were a few, but no useable pictures (it was raining). But I fell in love with the Marsh Frogs (Pelophylax ridibundus). These evil Central European frogs were introduced to several sites in Britain from the 1930’s onwards. Evil because they eat anything that fits in their mouths, including our native amphibians. Not only the largest European frog but almost certainly the loudest too – they loved the rain to the extent that protective ear wear was probably a good idea. But so, so beautiful, and so much character.

Marsh Frog

P.S. I’ve always wondered why the loudest frogs have the largest ear drums.


Glow worm

I am a little Glow-worm
Waiting for the sun to pass
I’m glad I am a Glow-worm
Cos the sun shines out my ass.

Glow worm, Lampyris noctiluca. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f5.6 1/30 ISO 1000

Glow worm

An old favourite

Banded Demoiselle
Banded Demoiselle, Calopteryx splendens. Nikon D5200 Tamron 150-600mm f11 150mm 1/90 ISO 400

Not rare, but always welcome.


Long-tailed tit
Long-tailed tit. Nikon D5200 Tamron 150-600mm f9.5 600mm 1/750 ISO 400

This youngster, still slightly wide-eyed at the world, was quite confident because he wasn’t alone but part of a small flock. However, some of his mates were juvenile Blue Tits and Great Tits. They will pass the winter in these mixed flocks before looking to pair off next Spring (if they last that long). Yes folks, the longest day is gone, breeding season is over, the days are getting shorter…

Yellow-Barred Long-Horn Moth

Yellow-barred Long-horn moth
Yellow-barred Long-horn moth, Nemophora degeerella. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f22 1/90 ISO 400

Now if only I could work out why they called it that…

Dinner Date

Sharon had accepted his invitation to dinner and then accepted his sexual advances but without passion, so Sidney decided to fill in the time by completing a few sets of pull-ups.

Daggerflies, Empis livida. Sony DSC-HX20V f3.2 4.7mm 1/50 ISO 100

The clue is NOT in the name

Yellow Dung Fly
Yellow Dung Fly, Scathophaga stercoraria. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f22 1/250 ISO 200

We call them all dung flies, but only the larvae of only a few species of these flies feed on animal dung. The adults don’t, they eat insects and feed on flowers. I’m going to start calling them “Teddy Bear Flies”:

Yellow Dung Fly

Let’s do lunch

Scorpionfly, Panorpa germanica. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f22 1/90 ISO 400

Scorpionfly invites sub-leaf companion to lunch. Carnage ensues.