A Second for Somerset (almost)

oldbilluk's picture

Last September, I attended a field meeting organised by the Somerset Wildlife Trust looking at intertidal zones on the north Somerset coast. A good chance to pick up a tick or two I thought. The meeting was at Hurlestone Point and involved a walk outfrom the car park then a descent down a cliff path to a steep shingle beach. We spent a good session on the rocks beneath Hurlestone Point and I got some nice photographs of shells and the odd anemone but nothing really heart-stopping was found. Late afternoon people started making their way back to the car park and just before the cliff path back up I decided to take a breather by a large clump of flowering Ivy. A week before in Exmouth, I had seen quite a few Colletes hederae on Ivy flowers and wondered if I might get one at this spot. The others disappeared up the cliff path and I waited patiently, scanning the many bumblebees visiting the flowers. I became aware of the restof the group waiting at the top of the cliff and could hear short snatches of conversation "Do you think he's all right?" "Yes, he's taking photographs I think." I was just going to join them when something caught my eye as it zoomed in and landed on a patch of Ivy flowers. I brought up my camera to get a better look and froze briefly before rapidly taking as many shots as I could before, as quickly as it had arrived, it was gone. What I immediately noticed on the hoverfly that had landed there was its amazing long antennae with white tips. One of the Calliera, and a definite tick but which one? I got home and downloaded the images into Lightroom and processed them. Looking at my hoverfly literature it seemd clear that this was Callicera aurata. Luckily we have within our county, Ted and Dave Levy, a father and son syrphid encyclopedia so I fired off a shot to them and had it confirmed shortly afterwards. I looked in their book, Somerset Hoverflies and realised i was in exalted company. One other record existed, made about ten miles from where I made mine, by W Audcent - in 1916!!!!!!

A short while later, I was on another field trip with Dave Boyce and boasted of my great find. Talk about pride coming before a fall. He looked at me a bit shame-faced and said "Hmm yes, I've had a couple of those in that general area." I'm still pleased with my fourth for Somerset. If anyone else has some records of this species in the county please send them in :-) Such a great looking fly deserves greater recognition.

Callicera aurata

Blog images: 

Callicera aurata