When I was making artificial rot holes in the stumps at Pitsford Reservoir, I took a winter gnat from the moth trap. It was a female and I struggled to identify it. However, at the Dipterists Forum workshop, I asked Alan Stubbs if he could take a look and he immediately identified it as Trichocera regelationis. This is a common species but not recorded at Pitsford before. Alan explained the identification features. The Dipterists Forum workshops and field meetings are great opportunities to pick up tips from the experts.
In May the DF will be holding a Spring field meeting in the Rockingham Forest area where we will have the opportunity to visit some really good sites. If anyone is interested in coming along contact me or Roger Morris and check out the DF website.
On Sunday, I visited Pitsford but it was very quiet. However, I did check out the artificial rot holes in water bottles that I had put up a few years ago. One of the bottles had a rat-tailed maggot, the larva of a hoverfly from the Eristalini tribe. It is probably Myathropa florea. One of the bottles was too dry for use by flies but the others looked to be suitable.
There are a few flies starting to be active now the weather is warming up. Anthomyids are among the first Spring flies but I find them very tricky. I was advised at the DF workshop to only attempt males and the easiest approach is to expose the genitalia and compare them to the diagrams in Ackland's key. The key itself can then be used to confirm identification. On that basis I shall try to record some of these species this year.
The UK Hoverfly Recording Scheme's big hoverwatch project that attempts to use constant effort recording to track changes in hoverfly numbers and distribution got off to a soggy start last year. Let's hope we have better conditions this year. The Wildlife Trust also want to use the same technique on some of their reserves so it is an opportunity to contribute to two projects with one survey if a Trust reserve is chosen as the site. Details can be obtained from Roger Morris on the Hoverfly Recording Scheme's website or from me or Henry Stanier for the Wildlife Trust's project.