Middle of June and wildlife in abundance. Spiders and freeloaders, insects and two birds.
Exploring the oxeye daisies by the A3/A272 interchange I came across this Flower Crab
Spider Misumena vatia that had caught a Honey Bee (image 1). Looking more closely, I found that there were also some small black flies in the picture and (after seeking advice) found that these were ‘Freeloader’ flies. These tiny little flies are kleptoparasites meaning that they take food from (in this case) spiders and other predaceous invertebrates that conveniently provide their sustenance free of charge (and hence ‘freeloaders’). A quite fascinating food chain.
I soon found another crab-like spider, this time a much smaller Philodromus Running Crab Spider. There were many of smaller spiders to find once you get your eye in, but the fascinating thing about this particular spider was that it had as its prey an even smaller tiny Enoplognata spider, one of the group of Candy–striped spiders (although this one lacks the candy stripes).
Some beetles now. This colourful wasp-mimicking Wasp Longhorn Beetle Clytus arietis was climbing and running actively along our runner bean sticks (image 3). On the A3/A272 interchange was another longhorn beetle, the Spotted or Black and Yellow Longhorn Beetle Rutpela maculata (image 4), often seen flying from flower to flower. Both of these beetles feed on pollen and nectar.
Wandering over the village green I spotted this female Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly Orthetrum cancellatum (image 5). Females are yellow with black markings (as in this image) while the males develop a blue colour as they mature.
Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies (image 6) have been seen on the village green and across gardens but, as with other butterflies this year, have not been common. While Meadow Brown butterflies have been frequent on the village green, I have yet to see a Ringlet, a Small Copper, a Skipper, or a Marbled White here.
The very distinctive Tree Bee Bombus hypnorum (image 7) is about and I saw a large queen and several workers of the species on the village green with their orange, black and white colouration. The species was first found in Wiltshire only 21 years ago (2001) and has since spread widely.
Now for a moth, the Mottled Beauty Alcis repanda (image 8) that came to our light trap and what a beauty it is with those wavy lighter and darker brown and black lines and a scalloped hind wing margin.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers regularly take peanuts from bird feeders, but this immature bird was probing deep into the ground with its long stabbing beak; why I do not know. Green Woodpeckers can be heard calling with their loud yaffling cry and I am jealous of our neighbours who all seem to have them feeding in their gardens. Every evening at dusk, a Barn Owl flies or hunts across the village green and these owls are seen regularly in long grass fields around the village. Usually it is too dark for a good photograph, but a managed a few shots of this one (image 10).