Observing orchids

Observing orchids
Recently I have been helping with a project called Orchid Observers, at the Natural History Museum. The aim is to get members of the public to send in photos of 29 key species and also participate in a crowd sourcing project to help us check transcribed data on old herbarium sheets and help to confirm ...

Sloe gin – my recipe

Sloe gin - my recipe
My first batches of sloe gin are ready to drink and are tasting pretty good so I think I can rough out my recipe now. Picking … Start scouting for sloes in hedgerows at the end of September – look for bushes with plenty of healthy fruit – not shrivelled, dry berries. Sloes should be ...

Review of commercial sloe gins

Review of commercial sloe gins
This winter I have been making liqueurs with hedgerow fruits – things like sloe & damson gins and vodkas but also variations with hawthorne berries, white bullaces, quince and crab-apples. As part of my research I decided to rigorously “test” some of the commercial competition – brands such as Gordon’s, Greenall’s, Heyman’s and Sipsmith all ...

Sarcophaga carnaria group male genitalia 1

Sarcophaga carnaria group male genitalia
I made this photo a little while ago, from my own specimens of the British Sarcophaga carnaria group (carnaria, variegata & subvicina). I posted it on Facebook and it went down very well with dipterists so I thought I’d post it here and give it a proper home ūüôā

Tarassus shannoni confirmed from Colombia

Tarassus shannoni confirmed from Colombia
A little while ago I posted about a strange fly that had been shown to me at the Natural History Museum. It looked clearly like a phasiine tachinid but it lacked hypopleural bristles, which would normally mean that it would key as a muscoid, not an oestroid fly. It’s a very perplexing specimen but at ...

The first female of Alvamaja chlorometallica Rognes, 2010 found in Romania

The first female of Alvamaja chlorometallica Rognes, 2010 found in Romania
This autumn my friend Alexandru Pintilioaie in Romania sent me a batch of flies, including one metallic rhinophorid. We both agreed that it looked very odd and interesting so I took some photos on the photo-stacking system at the Angela Marmont Centre (NHM) to thank him. European rhinophorids are not really my group so I ...

Tachinids from La Palma

Tachinids from La Palma
I received a really interesting parcel today from a friend who holidayed in La Palma earlier this year. He had spotted some Tachina that looked quite different from the run-of-the-mill Tachina fera so he took a few, along with a couple of other tachinids. On close examination, and after taking advice from Peter Tschorsnig, they ...

Serious flooding at Moor Copse

Serious flooding at Moor Copse
Stopped in at Moor Copse on the way home today to check out how high the river is. Well, the answer is РVERY! Tidmarsh village flooded last week, after yet more rain, and one week on the water has receded from the woodland but it is still right up to the top of the river bank. ...

Some nice Venezuelan tachinids 2

Some nice Venezuelan tachinids
Just had time to look at a box of Venezuelan tachinids sent to me by my good friend Jose Manuel Ayala. There are plenty of complete unknowns but a few look like familiar friend: a beautifully marked Zelia sp. (#2 on the top row) & Cylindromyia sp, (#5 on the middle row).

Cretan and Dutch tachinids

Cretan and Dutch tachinids
Today I will be working on a nice little batch of tachinids sent to me my Ruud van der Weele and collected by him in Crete and at home in the Netherlands. They are mainly a nice mixture of typical southern European genera (Gymnosoma, Cylindromyia, &¬†Eliozeta). Many thanks to Ruud for his generous donation! ūüôā ...

More Romanian tachinids

More Romanian tachinids
Here are the last of Alexandru’s batch of Romanian tachinids, caught in 2010. They spent a long time in alcohol so they are not in the best of condition but most of them should be easy enough to identify, I hope!¬†There are lots of Tachina, a few Nowickia, Thelaira, Solieria, Billaea,¬†Ectophasia, one Cylindromyia and absolutely ...

Dinocampus coccinellae at Hartslock

Dinocampus coccinellae at Hartslock
Last weekend, on a quick (and rather cold) trip to Hartslock, I discovered a 7-spot ladybird that had been attacked by Dinocampus coccinellae, a parasitic wasp. The wasp lives inside the ladybird eating its non-vital organs  until it is ready to pupate. Then the wasp larva cuts the nerves to the ladybirds legs so that it ...

New Forest – May 12th

New Forest - May 12th
Here are some photos from the Dipterist’s Forum Spring field meeting to Denny Wood in the New Forest.

Something from Yves 2

Something from Yves
This week has been a good one for deliveries – today I received a parcel from my friend Yves. This is part of a batch from Nouragues, French Guiana, collected by Stephane Brule a few years ago. My first impressions are that the material has a lot of dead leaves and it seems to have ...

A Venezuelan delivery… 1

A Venezuelan delivery...
This week I have been working on a batch of Venezuelan tachinids, kindly sent to me by Manuel Ayala (see right). They are a lovely mixture of species collected my Manuel since the 1960s – all hand netted so they are in quite a good condition. The highlights of the batch are definitely the male ...

A new objective – Lomo 8x 0.20 1

A new objective - Lomo 8x 0.20
Received a nice little Russian microscope objective today from Haworthiaworld on eBay – a Lomo 8x 0.20 finite (I assume 160/-). I wasn’t expecting much from a ¬£7 lens but it seems to have some promise. I have just finished a few test stacks and, my incompetence aside, the lens seems to be up to ...

Morphos

Morphos
As a quick follow-up to the “More butterfly wings…” post I thought you might like to see full-sized images of the butterflies used in the tests – starting with the most glamorous ones – the Morpho butterflies. The intense, metallic blue colours on a Morpho are not caused by pigments but instead are iridescence caused ...

More butterfly wings… 1

More butterfly wings...
I got an unexpected “gift” the other day of a Melles Griot 16x/0.32 160/0.17 microscope objective lens. I had ordered the 10x version (which is probably all I need in terms of magnification) but the eBay seller sent me the wrong one – but, being a nice chap, he said he’d refund me and I ...

Christmas in Dorset

Christmas in Dorset
Have just come back from a lovely, relaxing trip to my parent’s for Christmas … lots of chatting, eating and (a little) drinking, all in the beautiful surroundings of deepest Dorset. Mum treated us to a massive array of delicious food and we all pitched in as much as possible. Then when it wasn’t raining ...

Butterfly wings 1

Butterfly wings
One of the standard ways to test a macro photography set-up is to photograph a butterfly’s wing and then show the image as a crop at the maximum digital zoom. Here are a few photos taken with my EL-Nikkor 50mm f2.8 lens reversed on bellows to give 3:1 magnification on the sensor: These photographs have ...