Friday, 4 August 2017

Painswick Beacon, Stroud - 1st August

Over the last couple of months I have become quiet fanatical about biological recording and have been recording all the species I see while on site working and have been visiting sites to record the species I can identify. I have been entering all my records on iRecord which I find a very user friendly package which allows analysis of records straightforward. In theory, entered records are vetted by 'experts' and then submitted to the relevant records and county databases.

We had the week from 28th July at Cowley in the Cotswolds and I planned to visit a nearby site to carry out some recording. The weather for much of the week was pretty awful and we did lots of much needed relaxing but on 1st August the weather was brighter and so I did a little research to find a potentially good site nearby. Exploring MAGIC I decided that Painswick Beacon would be an interesting site being a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). I have previously visited this site for birding and at this time had noticed that there was some diverse calcareous grassland and so decided this would be the best site.

I spent around three hours on site from 10:00 and recorded a total of 145 species of plant, insect and bird with a few invertebrates left to identify and had a fantastic relaxing time at a very interesting site which I am sure I will return to. Here are a few images from the morning.

The splendid Tachinid Fly Phasia hemiptera feeding on Hogweed. This is a male, the females being clad with orange hairs. It is a parasite of Heteropteran bugs, with known hosts including Green Shieldbug and Forest Bug. The female lays her eggs on these insects and the larvae then develop inside the living host. Painswick Beacon.

Phasia hemiptera - Painswick Beacon.

The hoverfly Leucozona glaucia feeding on Hogweed. The larvae feed on aphids, usually on Hogweed and other 
umbellifers. This is a female with the eyes being widely separated. Painswick Beacon.

The hoverfly Leucozona glaucia - Painswick Beacon.

The hoverfly Leucozona glaucia. This is a male with the eyes touching. Painswick Beacon.

The hoverfly Leucozona glaucia - Painswick Beacon.

The hoverfly Cheilosia illustrata. This is a female with the eyes separated. Illustrata is often seen on Hogweed 
and the larvae tunnel the roots of large Hogweed plants in autumn. Painswick Beacon.

Musk Orchid - I found around 30 flower spikes but most were over, this was the only 
spike with some flowers remaining. Painswick Beacon.

Common Blue, I saw around 20 this morning - Painswick Beacon.

Common Blue on Harebell - Painswick Beacon.

Syrphus ribesii, identifiable by the mainly yellow hind femur. It is similar to S. torvus which is best 
distinguished by the distribution of microtrichia (small pits) on the 2nd basal cell of the wing

The hoverfly Eristalis tenax - Painswick Beacon

Male of the Tachinid fly Tachina fera, the larvae are parasites of caterpillars and other young insects. Painswick Beacon

The hoverfly Myathropa florea. These are fantastic hoverflies and always a pleasure to see even 
though common. Larvae occur in rot holes or cavities with decaying leaves amongst roots at the base of trees, 
the adults occur widely.

The hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum. A very distinctive and beautiful hoverfly. Note the double yellow bars on the abdomen 
and the long straight antennae. Very little is known about the life history of the species (or indeed the genus Chrysotoxum
but the larvae are thought to feed on ant-attended root aphids. 

Woolly Thistle, one of my favourite British plants - Painswick Beacon

Mottled Grasshopper. This is a species of very short calcareous swards. I identify most of my Odonata by the sound of their stridulation but the distinctive 'handlebar' antennae of Mottled Grasshopper confirms the identification. Painswick Beacon

Small Blue, I found this single individual in a small quarry at the foot of the beacon. Painswick Beacon

Carline Thistle, a classic species of chalk grassland - Painswick Beacon

Carline Thistle - Painswick Beacon

Brown Argus, the species seems to be having a good late season and I saw a around 15 today. Painswick Beacon

View from Painswick Beacon

View from Painswick Beacon