Friday, 31 December 2010

Free downloadable ebook

I've put a link on the front page on my invertebrate site to a free ebook I've made on the characteristics of the various invertebrate phyla.

This is the first ebook I've made, and if it is a success I'll do more.

I've recently acquired a Kindle, so have been exploring the possibilities of the medium.

Now I'm off to prepare myself and house for Hogmany - the most important time of the year.

Lang may all your lums reek!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Harvestman with a mite on its back

Just added this image to the harvestmen page. I couldn't tell if this mite was a predator or just using the harvestman as transport. The harvestman wouldn't stay still long enough for me to try to knock the mite off, so I just put it back after I'd photographed it.

Ragged ringlet

Added this very ragged ringlet to the Satyridae page. Just shows how effective the eye spots are at deflecting attention of predators away from the body.

Black-tipped soldier beetle

Uploaded this beetle to the Cantharidae page. It is also known as the bloodsucker, but I've never heard of it biting anyone let alone sucking blood. I wonder how it got this name.

I took this photograph on a lovely sunny afternoon, and this morning I walked past the same spot. What a difference! It is below zero and under snow, but it is still beautiful. The snow makes it easy to see the roe deer tracks and all the other tracks too. The deer - I think - have been digging away the snow to get at the moss and lichen underneath. And on the golf course the moles are still active even in this weather. They burrow between the snow and grass and leave a groove cutting through the grass exposing the soil beneath. The poor greenkeeper must really hate them

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Old Bombus pascuorum worker foraging

Just uploaded this photograph of an old worker to the Pascuorum page. I can see that she is fairly old by the wear to the edges of her wings. I took it at the edge of the woods near a broken down old dry stone wall, and beyond that there was a grain field. This is a very typical pasuorum habitat.

Of all the six common bumblebees I believe this one is hardest hit by modern farming as it often nests in tussocky grass at the edges of fields. If the farmer cuts early for silage he will destroy the nests that have just become established. Cutting later will also do damage, but with luck a well populated nest can be repaired.

Huge icicles hanging outside my windows today, and no chance of getting the car out - not that I want to go anywhere. Luckily our gutters are still there even though we have icicles down the insides of them as well as the outside. My neighbour's gutters have come down. There must be a better way of doing the guttering so that it doesn't impede the snow sliding off the roof.

However it is not all bad. The snow prevents me from gardening, but I do curl up on the sofa with the dog and read. Last night I finished E M Delafield's The provincial lady in America. Hilarious like all the others

Monday, 6 December 2010

Sawfly in clover

Just uploaded this to the sawfly page. Another reminder on this freezing cold day that we once had warm weather. For a couple of weeks the clover in the fields were full of these adult sawflies. They moved around very lazily, and did not seem to care when I moved grass blades out of the way. It was warm so the lazy movement wasn't because they were cold.

Bombus hortorum photographs

The photograph above shows a hortorum worker in the typicla pose they take up when they are feeling threatened. In this case it was probably my camera strap waving around as I tried to get this photograph. She went back to feeding as soon as I backed off. The close up of the madibles below are of the same hortorum worker. It shows their sculpturing.
The photograph below is another of the same worker. I like this one because the light has managed to catch and show all 3 ocelli clearly.

It seems strange to be writing about these photographs taken on a sunny summer day when I am now sitting in front of a log stove and contemplating putting on my thermal gear to take my dog out for a walk in the snow which must be at least 50 cm deep in places. But today is also a beautiful sunny day, although it will start to get dark around 3 pm, and it is just above freezing. Never mind a brisk walk around the woods for an hour will give me an appetite for warm spiced bread in front of the fire when I come back.

Bombus lucorum mating

The photograph below was sent in by Nurturing Nature, and shows a male and queen Bombus lucorum mating.