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|
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!