Sunday, 5 September 2010

Flyers

A few flying things today. Firstly, a small, but beautiful insect which was seen flitting around the drying grasses of the meadows near our home. This is a female Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus). The males are generally more blue and lack the attractive spots along the edges of the wings. Common in Britain's grasslands, the adult Common Blue feeds on many different species of the pea family of plants, especially Bird's Foot Trefoil, Restharrow and White Clover. The caterpillars are also fond of the leaves of these plants.
Flying around our garden a few days ago and taking a particular interest in our small holly plants, was a rather handsome little fly. It was a Picture Winged Fly or Gall Fly (Tephritis formosa). The names come from it's patterned wings and it's habit of laying it's eggs in the stems of various plants causing 'galls'. This is a female again, as can be seen from the ovipositor at the end of the abdomen, which it uses to insert eggs into the plant stems.
A more familiar flyer next. This one was causing havoc in our front garden yesterday along with a large number of it's family and friends. Starlings (Sternus vulgaris) are well known to us all and as such are often overlooked, but they do demand closer inspection. Their plumage is an amazing combination of shiny, glossed colours. When the light shines on them in the right way they reveal violet and green colours which would rival any exotic species.
Highly intelligent, Starlings are excellent mimics of other birds and even man-made sounds. Their repertoire of sounds include very intricate songs and calls including whistles, wheezing sounds, piping , rattles, clicks and a host of others. They have calls of alarm, calls for flocking, threats, attacks and 'intimate' calls when mating. Captive Starlings can even learn to talk, leading to them being known in some pars as a 'poor-man's Myna Bird'. What a little charmer!
Post a Comment