Thursday, 19 July 2018


30 species of hoverfly were recorded at Garnwen today with the highlight being 3 Eupeodes lapponicus. This is the 3rd year on the trot that I have recorded this species in the valley here, they are the only records for Wales and looks like this species has a stable colony here. Common Fleabane seems to be the favoured food plant for adult flies. Other highlights included Sphaerophoria philanthus and Eristalis rupium.

An impressive 13 species of butterfly were recorded including Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Brimstone and high numbers of Gatekeeper. Bees had all the usual species with Patchwork and Willoughby's Leaf-cutter bees present. The first Stictoleptura rubra longhorn beetle female of the year was present amongst the males. Tree Wasps are now very numerous as was the Tachinid flies Tachina grossa and Sicus ferrugineous..

 Painted Lady
 Stictoleptura rubra - female with red thorax
 Stictoleptura rubra - male, much paler with black thorax
 Euepodes luniger
 Eristalis nemorum - with the male above the female in characteristic hovering flight seen only in this species.
Cheilosia impressa - small black species with yellow base to the wings.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Iceland (part 4/final part) - hoverflies and other stuff

Iceland only has a short list of 21 species of hoverfly, recorded mainly from visiting dipterists. I photographed a number of species around the Island and had the ones I was not familiar with kindly identified by Gerard Pennards of the world database for hoverflies []. Two of the species were new for Iceland and they were Eupeodes rufipunctatus and Platycheirus manicatus. So I managed to get my name into the annuls of Iceland hoverfly recording. Other species seen which have been recorded before and are also common in Great Britain were - Sphaerophoria scripta, Dasysyrphus pinastri, Dasysyrphus tricinctus, Platycheirus albimanus, Neoascia tenur and Syrphus species (ribesii/torvus). The only other animals seen were two separate sightings of Arctic Fox, Iceland's only mammal.

Eupeodes rufipunctatus - new for Iceland (Lake Myvatn)
 Platycheirus manicatus - new for Iceland (Lake Myvatn)
Arctic Fox - (Latrabjarg, Westfjords)

Friday, 13 July 2018

Gilfach (west), Maesteg [Top Llan]

It's not since 2nd June (35) have I had 30+ species of hoverfly (31) in a day. So today's numbers around the lanes next to the forestry was indeed welcome. New for the year or not seen for a while were Didea fasciata, Dasysyrphus albostriatus, Epistrophe grossulariae, Leucozona glaucia and Lejogaster metallina.

Ten species of butterfly were headed by Comma, Small Copper and ever increasing numbers of Ringlet (60). The Longhorn beetle Leptura maculata was recorded, and a Sulphur Beetle was on Hogweed. I've checked my records and I think it is new for the valley, I've only ever seen them down at the coast at Kenfig NR, inland records are very few and far between. Silver Y and Pammene aurana moths were feeding on Hogweed as were large numbers of Orange-legged Furrow Bee, Tree Bumblebee and a few Field Cuckoobee. New blooms for the year were Upright Hedge Parsley and Lesser Burdock.

 Epistrophe grossulariae
 Dasysyrphus albostriatus
 Leucozona glaucia
 Chrysogaster - I've taken this fly as a specimen and it keys out to Chrysogaster cremiteriorum which would be new for the valley. So will have to wait for the answer at the end of the year when I send the specimens to the Hoverfly Recording Scheme for identification. Although from the picture you can see the wings are clear and have yellow base to them and the sides of the thorax are dusted grey, this separates them from the other two Chrysogaster.
 Sulphur Beetle - new for the valley and usually coastal in Glamorgan

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Tir-iarll Park, Cwmfelin

With temperatures dropping to 20c and a fair amount of cloud cover, the direct heat of our two week sunny spell has dissipated. This meant that hoverflies are starting to show themselves again. I recorded 18 species today, the highlights being the first of the year of Leucozona laternaria and Cheilosia vernalis as well as good numbers of Cheilosia illustrata, Chrysogaster solstitialis and Syritta pipiens. The Hogweed is now in full bloom, so if temperatures stay the same hoverfly numbers should increase greatly.

Red Admiral and 2 Small tortoiseshell were the pick of the 6 species of butterfly seen, the first of these for quite some time. Pammene aurana, Carcina quercana micro moths were the first for the year as was the Green Froghopper, both on Hogweed. The micro moth "Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner" was also present and now seems to be affecting every tree in the valley.

 Cheilosia illustrata
 Cheilosia vernalis - once you realise that this small Cheilosia is not a Chrysogaster, it is easy to pick out amongst other species.
 Leucozona laternaria
 Myathropa florea
 Syrphus ribesii - the female ribesii is the only Syrphus that can be safely identified with confidence from a photograph, due to its all yellow/orange hind femur. All others have to be checked in hand under 20x magnification.
 Carcina quercana
mine of the Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner. Now infesting all the trees in the valley.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Dragonfly ponds, My. Bach

A few years ago the company that was landscaping the old Coegnant colliery area put in some Dragonfly ponds half way up My. Bach. As the weather is too hot for anything but dragonflies and butterflies, I thought I'd take a stroll up there today. There are three small pools and the dragonflies have taken well to them. Just up from the ponds is a small mountain stream that also held a number of dragonflies. They are set at 242mts above sea level.

 Pool 1 [most southerly] - held 1 Emperor, 3 Keeled Skimmer, 1 Southern Hawker, 4 Common Blue Damselfly.
 Pool 2 [middle one] - held 1 Emperor, 3 Keeled Skimmer, 2 Southern Hawker, 2 Common Blue Damselfly.
 Pool 3 [most northerly] - held 1 Emperor, 5 Keeled Skimmer, Southern Hawker, 2 Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly, 2 Common Blue Damselfly.
 Small mountain stream [just above ponds] - held 1 Emperor, 6 Keeled Skimmer, 2 Common Hawker, 2 Southern Hawker, 10 Common Blue Damselfly, 3 Large Red Damselfly.
female Emperor egg depositing in the mountain stream.

Also of note were the large amount of butterflies in the area, the best being 2 Dark Green Fritillary around the stream as well as two more on the side of "Tyson's Road" on the way up. The latter site was a well known area for Dark Green Fritillary before landscaping with 20+ individuals present. It was thought the site was lost, but they now seem to be making a comeback. Other butterflies in the area included 4 Green-veined White, 4 Small White, 5 Large White, 50 Small Skipper, 20 Large Skipper, 1 Common Blue, 4 Speckled Wood, 1 Gatekeeper, 60 Meadow Brown, 20 Ringlet and 1 Small Heath.

Most of the ponds also had a healthy population of Common Frog, but didn't record any newt species  though. New blooms for the year included Marsh Woundwort, Eyebright, Himalayan Balsam, Agrimony, Charlock, Meadowsweet, Greater Plantain and Green Figwort.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Heatwave not good for some insects

The last three days the temperature has been between 28c and 32c and has been reported as a heatwave by the UK press and should last into the weekend. Once the temperature hits 26c hoverflies drop off in numbers and become hard to locate. I have seen 3 species of hoverfly feeding on exposed mud (not seen this before) and I've been bitten by a long list of insects requiring my blood for sustenance.  While other insects love the hot weather like butterflies and dragonflies, both of which have been out in good numbers, particularly Ringlet and Golden-ringed Dragonfly. The first longhorn beetle Stictoleptura rubra, which is a UK rarity has emerged, with 3 males at Gilfach (w), Llangynwyd.

 Large Skipper
 Phasia hemiptera
 Stictoleptura rubra 
 Golden-ringed Dragonfly
 Common Frog
Willow-leaved Cotoneaster

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Iceland 2018 (part 3) - scenery/tourist stuff

 Floki statue, Keflavik Viking Museum - a famous Icelandic boat builder
 Viking chieftan stone head, Kaflavik Viking Museum
 An unusual road sign at Muli, Kollafjordur, Westfjords.
 Latrabjarg sea-bird colony/cliffs, Westfjords
 Latrabjarg, most westerly point in Europe
 Overview of Latrabjarg
An old American Aircraft, Minjasafn - Every plane has its history, this one was commissioned in 1944 and is Douglas DC-3 registered as C-117 number17191. It flew transport and combat missions in the Pacific, Atlantic and Antarctic oceans. It was sold to Iceland in 1973 and was used to transport personnel between Keflavik and Hofn. It was also used to evacuate people from an eruption of the Wesmanaeyjar Volcano in 1973. It was finally de-commissioned on 24th April 1977 and has been placed at this spot since
 propellers of the aircraft are placed alongside.

 Typical Iceland coastal scenery at Vatnsfjordur, Westfjords.
 Hobbits are also found in Iceland 😝, here's one next to his den at Saeeberg Hostel
 Our hostel overlooking Lake Myvatn, Reykjahlid
 Lake Myvatn with dormant volcano in the background
 Tall ships in Husavik Harbour
View of Borgarnes valley (Nordurardalur), the main road Route 1 travels north along these type valleys, some are 50kms long and the road often follows the path of the glacier melt rivers for great distances.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Iceland 2018 (part 2) - the plants

I don't usually take photos of flowers when I go away, but this time I had enough time to do so. So here are the photos of various plants I took. I hope I've ID'd them right, Mike Powell will look them over for confirmation.

 Arctic Bartsia
 Alpine Catchfly
 Arctic Poppy
 Common Butterwort
 Common Scurvy-grass
 Cypress Spurge - Interesting notes on this species is that it is not on the Iceland list and is regarded as an invasive species that was thought eradicated in 1954. So I may have to find someone in Iceland to report the sighting. Also Germander Speedwell in foreground.
 Moss Campion
 Mountain Avens - The national flower of Iceland
 Nootka Lupin - another invasive plant to Iceland and has taken over large areas of the island. It grows so densely that it kills or stops native plants and lichens growing. Iceland is gearing up to try to eradicate this species.
 Sea Campion, with Field Forget-me-not in the centre
Wild Pansy.