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WHITLINGHAM: Soldierfly searching

4th August 2016

Tim Hodge had let me know that he had done some wildlife recording at Whitlingham at the weekend, and one of the species he had seen was a soldierfly called a Banded General. I've not seen any of the 'Generals', so after work on Thursday I took advantage of some early evening sunshine to go and have a look at the flowers along the riverbank near the woods.

Upon arrival I was saddened to see a dead Sparrowhawk along the edge of the woods. There was no sign that anything untoward had occurred, so after checking for rings I left it where it was and carried on.

There were Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies on the Buddleia near to the car park, and a Volucella zonaria hoverfly on some brambles. Approaching a lime tree with lots of flowers, I could immediately see lots of bees and hoverflies. A smaller relative of the previous species, Volucella inanis was resting on one of the leaves. A third Volucella was also present - I thought at the time that it was V. inflata because of the large black middle to Tergite 2, but I was concerned about the dark scutellum, and having spoken to the county recorder he says it is an atypical Volucella pellucens.

 Volucella zonaria
 Volucella inanis
 Volucella pellucens (more typically this species has a complete band)

With no sign of the Banded General I headed along to Whitlingham Marsh. Here I did see a new patch hoverfly, Chrysotoxum bicinctum, although it flew off before I could photograph it. Walking alongside the A47 I saw a new leafhopper (Eupteryx aurata) and a Willow Emerald damselfly. I was keeping a look out for a spiky shrub with fine-leaves that Tim had mentioned earlier. When I found it I noticed that one had green blackberry-like fruits, and wondered if it could be a Rubus species. This turned out to be a good guess, it was Parsley-leaved Bramble (Rubus lacianatus).

 Eupteryx aurata
 Willow Emerald
 Parsley-leaved Bramble

It was beginning to drizzle, so I headed back to the car, calling in briefly at the lime again. I saw a bracket fungus growing from an Ash tree along the riverbank, and realised it was Shaggy Bracket (Inonotus hispidus), a new patch fungus, to round off a productive hours walk.

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