Sunday, 23 September 2012

September sunshine!

Today's weather has not been great and so I expect the haul of records from the internet tomorrow will be pretty disappointing. One bad day does not mean that the year is over, and I remain hopeful that there will be lots of new records. Autumn can be very rewarding, especially on nice sunny days when the ivy attracts lots of flies and butterflies.

In northern and western districts Devil's-bit Scabious is often still in flower and this can be very productive. Dipterists Forum held an Autumn field meeting in south-west Scotland in 2009 in mid-September and the Devil's-bit was fantastic. So, maybe there will be a new flush of records.

There has been a noticeable drop-off in species richness on the internet. Most records are of Eristalis species, Myathropa florea, Sericomyia silentis and the occasional Volucella zonaria and V. inanis. But there are occasional surprises and of course a small trickle of photos from earlier in the year. Hopefully poor weather will encourage photographers to post more of their older shots that we have yet to see.

Autumn field meeting

This year Dipterists Forum will go to North Wales in early October. I am hoping for nice weather so we can cover lots of conifer plantations and achieve a similar level of fungus gnat recording to previous years. Last year in Sussex we were exceptionally successful with over 200 species recorded. I doubt we will get close this year, but that remains to be seen.

For me, the Autumn is a much more pleasant trip because the group is small and we are confined to maybe three sites each day. I mainly collect fungus gnats for Peter Chandler and act as a parataxonomist. It is actually very rewarding when one collects a good pile of gnats and makes a real contribution to the sum of knowledge about some of the less well-known families. Without Peter, fungus gnats would not figure in recording but as things stand there is an excellent dataset that provides a great basis for ongoing surveillance.


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