Friday, 20 October 2017

Dipterists Forum Autumn Field Meeting - Farnborough and district

In addition to the week-long trip we had at Loch Lomond in September, There was a 'spur of the moment' trip to the Surrey/Hampshire borders by a small group of die-hards who find it difficult to hang up the net and pooter for the year. In the past there has been a four or five-day meeting around the third week in October and a few of us wanted a bit more field work before winter sets in. Thus, I booked three rooms in the Travelodge in Farnborough for Peter Chandler, Alan Stubbs and myself; Andrew Halstead, Tony Davis and Mark Mitchell joined us for all or part of the time, travelling from home.

Most of the sites we looked at were in north Hampshire (many thanks to Tony Davis for organising access permission), although Alan, Mark and I did take a look at the area around Shere and the Winterfold Forest in Surrey on the Saturday.
Mark Mitchell demonstrates the newest technique for extracting flies from a pooter - centrefugal force to stun them and send them to the end of the pooter with Peter Chandler looking on in amazement!

The trip was relatively uneventful and we have still to get the results from the samples of fungus gnats that were gathered. My impression was that there were plenty of gnats, but that range and variation was limited. I saw precious few Boletophila or Macrocera and it seemed to me that the majority of specimens were from within the Mycetophilidae. Maybe the results will differ, as there were at least four of our party collecting gnats and there should be a very big selection to choose from. If we are lucky, we might have managed to find somewhere around 130  species but I think I might be a bit over-optimistic in that estimate.

Craneflies were incredibly sparse in both numbers and species diversity. I would be amazed if we managed to find 30 species over the four-day trip! On the plus side, I cannot recall ever seeing so many Heleomyzids but even this assemblage was odd: the bulk of my samples were Suillia with just the occasional Tephrochlamys. Drosophilids were fairly abundant (especially D. suzukii) but Platypezids were also noteworthy by their absence.
Alan Stubbs, Tony Davis and Andrew Halstead deliberating over the choice of next site
Although perhaps not the most rewarding meeting from a recording perspective, we did manage to visit nearly 20 localities and covered an area that has not previously been investigated by an Autumn field meeting.

In addition we experienced the most odd weather at Greywell Moor where light intensity eerily dropped to dusk-like levels around 2pm as the edge of Hurricane Ophelia drifted past on Monday the 16th. One could almost imagine that this was the start of the Martian Invasion and would have made an amazing backdrop for a rendition of Jeff Wayne's 'War of the Worlds' (the Richard Burton version) ---- and it was not that far away from Horsell Common either!


  1. No one would have believed, in the early years of the twentyfirst century, that creatures that swarm and multiply in a patch of woodland were being studied by men with microscopes immeasurably superior to our own. (and it was Jeff Wayne, not Geoff)

  2. Thanks for the correction ... Unknown