OrangeWasp

The internet is a wonderful thing for the amateur naturalist, but sometimes frustrating when you can't find what you're looking for. In my case I was after a big page full of every type of UK wasp, with pictures and vital differentiating features. But I couldn't find such a page, and I couldn't identify this specimen. Of course it might very not be a wasp – just a fly of some other sort. Another angle below. Do you know what it is? I'll keep looking and will update this post if I figure it out. It seems to have its abdomen curled up beneath it, I know not why.

OrangeWasp2

 

DragonflyNymph

It's hard to tell, but I think what you see above is a Dragonfly nymph, fresh from a marshy backwater. It's covered in a fuzz of algae, presumably because it spends most of its time just sat there waiting for prey to happen by. It probably works as good camouflage.

A Cotswold Year was just brought to my attention, and I mention it here as it's a blog quite similar in style to UKNB, but brings a different personal and geographical perspective (we're based in Hertfordshire by the way). If you enjoy the slightly haphazard snapshots of nature that you find here at UKNB, you'll probably like their blog too.

It seems like an awful long time since we had any rain worth mentioning, at least in the South East here. A light sprinkle this morning, but not much. My lawn keeled over and died a couple of weeks back. The introduction of a hosepipe ban in the North West, amid reported driest conditions since 1929 has also hit the headlines. But this set me wondering – how is this dry spell affecting wildlife?

This is my own pure speculation, but I assume that those damp niches that certain animals prefer (like the newts I found in my own pond-less garden) are gradually drying out and forcing them to look harder or dig deeper for cool moisture. Maybe it's killing some of them off as a result. I imagine that drinking water is becoming that bit harder to come by, and of course plants are dying – though they will tend to spring back via seeds they've already dropped. Are animals that burrow in the ground finding life a bit harder as it's baked hard and dry: moles, beetles, bumblebees, worms etc?

Do you have any anecdotal evidence of how the dry spell is affecting nature in your neck of the woods? Please leave a comment and share!

SwallowtailMoth

As is so often the case when finding an exotic looking moth that I've never seen before, I look it up quivering in anticipation of having found a rare specimen, only to discover that it's common as muck. This is a classic case in point, but not too disappointing as this Swallowtail moth is really rather beautiful. It's large at about 50mm across and delicately coloured, with that exquisite pinched and marked swallowtail on the wings. Apparently they live mostly on ivy and are seldom seen because they are nocturnal (aren't most moths…) and only emerge for a short period in July. 

This one is photographed lit only with the 100W light in my bathroom (no flash) so required ISO 3200 even at f2.8. Just a few years ago that would have given an unusably noisy result so it's a testament to the progress in camera sensors that I can get a useful handheld result even in fairly dim conditions.

HedgehogHiding

I see quite a lot of hedgehog poo on my lawn and I did once see one late at night snuffling through the borders nearly a year ago, but I've never gotten a photo. I've been staking it out since then, if only in a casual manner, heading out into the garden after dark and listening for it rustling and chomping but no luck. Today however, in someone else's garden (an open garden raising money for charity as it happens) the other half spotted a biggun trotting happily past us in broad daylight. It meandered through the shrubs as she tried to get a half decent shot of it. I suppose it must have been disturbed by all the activity.

…it was crawling over my Lupins at the time. That's the first one I've seen this year, though I don't usually see many compared to grasshoppers.