insectsandflight.com

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All text and photographs © robin Williams.

Click on BLUE titles to take you to the section or destination to which the name refers.

HOME : contains a number of key introductions to the site, including links with outside contacts, publications, and a photo index which will show which species photographs occur in any page or section.

DIARY of recent events: is the main variable content on the website. It is updated as things occur, rather than sticking to strictly daily comments. There are periods of winter gloom when nothing occurs and others when there is almost too much material to include. It follows the patterns of a normal life. I am  retired, so in theory there is unlimited time to venture out. In practice, a vigorous dog needs walks, while other domestic requirements often take precedence. So time is more limited than would seem likely when first considering the freedoms of retirement. At the start, photographs were added sparingly, now I add as many as I like. Available capacity in the host is a large  and it allows more behavioural shots to be included, while memories are stillfresh. Realising this has been the biggest change over the years. The pictures are chosen because I like them, not with an eye to variety or showing how many rarities are found in the area.

 

Black-tailed godwits, Limosa limosa       © robin williams

Cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo              © robin williams 

INTRODUCING BRITISH HYMENOPTERA: Information on this Order is gathered together here in some detaii, following much research. Inevitably there are gaps where I have not photographed or seen particular families but this is indicated in the appropriate place. Hymenoptera is a huge grouping. Each sub-set is discussed and their characteristics set out, with pictures where available. Symphyta - Sawflies & Horntails; Aculeata - bees, wasps & ants; Parasitica - ichneumons, cynipids, chalcids & others. These are described, discussed and set out in a common format. A further sub-sction shows the availability of books, keys and other information for each.


Jewel wasp, Chrysis mediata,   with prey © robin williams

Leafcutter bee, Megachile versicolor       © robin williams

Within hymenoptera is a special section on gall insects: an introduction to the tiny insects found as causers, inquilines and parasitoids in oak and Rose bedeguar galls. These form a natural study group, relatively easy to find, breed out and identify. I have been closely involved in long-term studies of these and examples are shown in Gall-insect galleries.

Rose bedeguar causer, Diplolepis rosae  © robin williams

 

 

Chalcid, Torymus auratus f                   © robin williams

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY  - A comprehensive section with several sub-sections. Techniques: I have photographed wildlife over many decades and, inevitably, have developed my own methods. This section discusses those systems that are of most success for me. In particular, insects in flight looks at th techniques I have standardised on over the years. Another, more recent sub-sector, applies the same reasoning to Birds in flight, concentrating on a limited number of subjects, including birds of prey, wildfowl and other waterbirds. Finally, two important galleries are shown, Insects in flight gallery has well over 400 pictures, while Birds in flight gallery shows around 300 images at present. Both these galleries are updated once a year. 

Cuckoo bee, Coelioxys inermis               © robin williams

Hoverfly, Rhingia campestris                 © robin williams

Red kites, Milvus milvus                        © robin williams

Mixed duck                                           © robin williams

Coots, Fulica atra                                 © robin williams

'INSECT FLATS'. describes a method for attracting solitary bees and wasps into the garden, by way of artificial trap-nests; something I have been doing for many years. It costs next to nothing and has so far attracted over 60 species to nest in the garden, enough to keep anyone fascinated for many hours at a time. Drilled logs and bamboos attract many bees and wasps to breed. Brief descriptions, flight times and sizes are given for all the species found so far, together with pictures where I have been quick enough.

Parasitic wasp, Gasteruption jaculator    © robin williams

BUMBLEBEES IN SOMERSET: is an attempt to make identification of these difficult insects somewhat easier, though it should be emphasised that they will continue to baffle even the most expert at times. The first part shows some of the problems in identification in more detail, together with explaining the different life-styles and shapes of cuckoo and true bumblebees. The next section, Identification,  consists of black and white drawings designed to emphasise identification points for species - colours, numbers of bands on the body and so on. This is followed by Bumblebee gallery, containing photographs of the sexes of each species. Somerset is host to a large number of species but some are inevitably found only elsewhere.

 

Bumblebee, Bombus sylvarum f            © robin williams


Cuckoo bumblebee, Bombus campestris© robin williams

 

NB: The Royal Entomological Society has downloaded its backlog of out-of-print insect keys and is offering them free, online. This is both generous and important, as some keys are not available from any other source. The Society is to be commended for this wonderful action, which must surely help many people to get to grips with often difficult insect identification. click on Royal Entomological Society


 

 

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