Wednesday 30 September 2020

Flies on the wall

 Managed to get home for some decent light, although a bit contrasty. Works well for leaves.


Needed to mess about with the software a bit for these Diptera. Nice to find Eristalis tenax which is not especially common here, I tend to find it in the autumn usually. On walls around the house and garden.

Eristalis tenax.

A large drone fly with a typically stubby abdomen, unlike E.pertinax and its droopy pointy ab, dark tarsi on the front legs, and the two lines of hairs across the eyes, one of which is clear in the second photo.

I think this large cranefly is Tipula rufina. It could be Tipula confusa but the dark line across the pleura should rule that out.

Tipula rufina (I think), confirmed.

A nice male Syrphus also on the wall. Eyes are hairless so not torvus, but I would need a specimen to split ribesii and vitripennis.

Male Syrphus vitripennis/ribesii.

Loads of these large Calliphoridae on the walls and trees. I was looking for Lucila species but the one or two I saw were too jumpy and I failed to get a photo.

No birds to speak of but the Greylags were nice against the evening light.

Not exactly what a macro lens is for....

Had to add these two, found in the pony water and identified tonight (well, up to a point).

Agonopterix heracliana/ciliella.

Nimbus (Aphodius) contamniatus.

Both new species for me. The daily shared job of my checking the pony (usually in the late afternoon or early evening for me) does have its benefits.

Monday 28 September 2020

New lens

 The macro lens for the OM5 arrived. I just had an hour of light to play with it this evening.

Creeping thistle.

Leuconora spp.

Scathophaga stercoraria.


Wych Elm.

Wednesday 23 September 2020


 Halesus radiatus, with damaged antennae.

The new key to adult caddis is available in test form. The deal is to try it out and report on successes and failures. I know the one above, and it's quite common at the light traps at the moment. This next one was a bit more awkward but came out fairly easily.

 Drusus annulatus, a small Limnephilid, note the spiny legs.

However, I came unstuck with the next one.

I started off on the right track, despite not looking carefully enough. I went for Ceraclea senilis, somehow ignoring all those dark spots on the wings (also not possible on distribution). Then headed off, incorrectly, to Molanna, mostly because I don't understand how the rolled wings should look, never having actually seen one of these. I was given a bit of help and went back to the Leptoceridae. I now think this is most likely a Ceraclea, perhaps fulva, but I can't see a pale patch on the wings. I have a specimen so it will be a genitalia job I think.

The key is available by asking here:

Not a great photo of Deleaster dichrous, a nice beetle.
Neris flavomarginatus, a damselbug.

There are times when the intruders in the moth traps are a lot more interesting than the moths. The Deleaster is not a common beetle, but the third and fourth of the year turned up in a trap recently. Neris flavomarginatus is a bug I've found in the garden once previously good to find it again in a trap.

There have been interesting moths though, here's Angle Shades to sugar. And mooching around in the garden at night with a torch a large moth buzzed me, I watched it settle and found this very smart Red Sword-grass.

The second two pictures were taken with the Olympus 5 using the flash with my beating tray (white umbrella) sleeve as the diffuser. Needed a bit too much work in the software, I don't think I had the settings quite right.

A new hoverfly for the garden, Meliscaeva auricollis. A huge crop as it was deep in the honeysuckle, somewhat out of reach of my 90mm (equiv) lens. Not an especially common species in Orkney.

A couple of books arrived today, the 2nd edition of the concise Bloomsbury moth guide, as my 1st edition is seriously knackered - just need to transfer some of the notes now. I also weakened and bought the ladybird guide. Interested to see that my Hyperaspis pseudpustulata might be the first record in Scotland for quite some time.

There are a lot of visitors here at the moment, it seems like more than usual. Places like Yesnaby are quite busy. But at the weekend we turned south and walked to the Brock of Borwick. I'm fascinated by the fence line of stone and like photographing it, one day I'll get something I'm pleased with. Lovely to sit at the brock and look out, imagining the folk 1,000s of years previously, in the same spot, doing the same thing.

Syrphus vitripennis (probably) it could be torvus.

Wednesday 16 September 2020


 Put two traps out on Monday night. We were going out for a meal, special occasion, so I had to put them on early, well before dark. It was still and drizzling. By the time we came back from the pub there were a lot of Diptera and caddis around the lights.

I managed to wake up before the Robins were active, they have bred here this year, three pairs and two broods from at least one of them, they are keen on moths (for breakfast). I nearly missed it, but there on the vanes of the synergetic was the prize that made the effort worthwhile, a Vapourer.


I've been trapping here since spring 2010, so just over ten years and this is the first time I've found this species, not seen a caterpillar or an adult previously. This a species frequently found in the county, usually as a cat.

Otherwise a Small Wainscott was first for the year, another Acleris effractana/emargana and playing with my new flash gun a Painted Woodlouse and a Tree Slug.

Porcellio spinicornis.

Tree Slug.

Saturday 12 September 2020


 I've been frustrated with the quality of image I've been getting from the Olympus Tough. It's a bit hit and miss, it is possible to obtain some really good images but it's hard to hold still and it doesn't allow enough flexibility with depth of field settings etc. It is a brilliant little camera but it's felt like time to upgrade for a while. Likewise the Canon G3X is a good camera, great for birds and bigger insects but landscape shots have disappointed and it has its limitations. In the end I cracked and seeing a second hand body on WEX that looked good for me I went for it. That's the easy, and relatively cheap bit. Lenses are scary. In the end I went for two new lenses, still waiting for the macro to arrive as it was out of stock. So everything here is taken with the 12 - 45 Pro (except for the pic of the camera).

Olympus OMD EM5 Mkii with 12 - 45 Pro lens.

At the moment I'm struggling with very unfamiliar menus. I've got an initial setup though, shooting highest quality JPEG and RAW. Still a bit of tuning to do though. Immediately though I'm needing to do less in the software, no need to sharpen or mess with the colour and contrast as much. 

For a long period of time, not sure how long, but I certainly had the cameras in the early 90s, I had an OM1n and an OM2. I was very fond of those cameras. I can't remember what happened to them in the end. I had a Tamron SP90 macro lens that I was also very fond of. Looking forward to the new macro lens arriving.

I'll see how I go with this new gear.

Dolichovespula sylvestris.

The social wasp, a Wood Wasp, shot with the 12 - 45 and cropped.

A few more pix from today (Sunday), the ladybird larva was about 5mm long.

Bombus lucorum agg.

Adalia decempunctata, and the first ladybird larva found on Orkney.

Limnephilus marmoratus - a caddisfly.

Episyrphus balteatus.