Scorpion Fly

Tuesday afternoon commute. I crossed the golf course as usual, but instead of taking the field path home, I continued along The Row and into Eaves Wood.

A tiny frog squirmed across the path. It was mud brown with some orange highlights – quite well disguised against the bare earth of the path. I was surprised to see a frog in the woods so far from surface water.

Eaves Wood is warrened with paths. I followed a series of faint trods, all of which eventually petered out. Progress was slow as I ducked and weaved under and around thorny bushes and low yew branches. I ended up with bark in my pockets and cobwebs across my face. But I did find this huge ants’ nest which may even be bigger than the one by the ruined cottage. I watched the ants for a while working purposefully. One ant was climbing the mound laden with something relatively large which I thought might be the tail end of a bee. I noticed a couple of ants coming down the mound carrying other ants which looked like they were struggling – intruders? Another ant began its journey up the mound carrying a bee’s face.

I’d crashed through several webs amongst the trees, but I saw this one before it was too late. This spider was about 5 feet above the ground and the nearest anchor points were branches about 18 inches above.

I think this is the garden spider Araneus diadematus.

As I turned away from examining the spider I caught a movement in the grass in the corner of my eye. Which turned out to be….

…a striped fly with an enormous conk, hanging upside down from a blade of grass. This is a scorpion fly. It must be a female because its tail tapers to a point whereas a male has a curled tail reminiscent of a scorpion but is none the less harmless.

There are apparently three different British species of scorpion fly, but it’s only really possible to distinguish between them by examining the genitalia: this fly was remarkably placid whilst I brushed the grass aside for a better view and inched ever closer with my camera, but that would seem to be going just a little too far on first acquaintance.

This photo isn’t so sharp, but it does show that splendid beak in profile.

This is another ant mound – of yellow meadow ants rather then the larger wood ants. I’m pretty sure that the ants haven’t left these empty hazel nuts shells here, but what has made a picnic table of this spot?

There are two classes of yellow flowers which I find a bit daunting when it comes to identifying them – yellow flowers which look a bit like buttercups and yellow flowers which look a bit like dandelions.

I suppose that this flower falls into the latter category – I don’t know what it is, but I love the colours and the shape.

I don’t know what these are either – they were tiny but I admired the scarlet stems and sepals.

A branch had fallen from a tree leaving the underside of this ear fungus exposed.

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Scorpion Fly

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