Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Flies in the garlic

We're up in the Lake District this week, enjoying the sudden outbreak of summer after a miserable spell of weather. There hasn't been too much time for wildlife chasing, although there are few more pleasant ways of spending one's time than watching Grey Wagtails chirruping on the river's edge whilst supping a pint of Cumbria's finest ale as I did today.

From the moment that we settled on the plan off staying in the Lakes I've had my eye on one particular species that I've had on my 'to see' list for a while now, the hoverfly Portevinia maculata. It shouldn't be a tricky species to find, as it loves Ramsons - which carpet many woodlands in springtime, but unfortunately not any woodlands near home that I'm aware of. Around here every wood seems to be carpeted with them, so we set off this morning to the charmingly named Dorothy Farrar's Spring Wood in search of some garlic loving hoverflies.

The only fly in the ointment is that it's getting a little late in the year for the Ramsons, and with them the hoverflies, and after a little while in the wood I was starting to think that perhaps our hunt wasn't going to be successful. Just as I was starting to lose hope I caught sight of a small hoverflyey looking fly on a Ramson leaf and quickly brought up my camera to take some photos, and managed to take a grand total of one before the battery died - aargh! A quick faff later I had a new battery loaded, and thankfully the fly had stayed put, allowing me to get some nice shots of a female Portevinia - usually the harder sex to find. A few minutes later I added a male, with its distinctive square grey abdominal markings, to the set as one posed nicely on a sunlit patch of moss.
Portevinia maculata
Female Portevinia maculata

Portevinia maculata
Male Portevinia maculata
I think this probably counts as my first ever hoverfly twitch, but it almost certainly won't be my last, I've got a much harder target to aim for in the next couple of weeks - hopefully I'll be posting about that soon!

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