27th July, 2020 Flies.

The picture above shows a species of fly called Voria ruralis and was scanned from a website titled ‘Nature Spot, recording wildlife of Leicestershire and Rutland’. The v.r. may be seen in flower meadows and on waste land in the summer months and is fairly common in parts of the Midlands and Easter Counties south of the Humber. It is mainly black in colour and is covered with long bristly hairs, probably not the prettiest of flies but then ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’.

At this point I need to come clean about my lack of knowledge about flies of the British Isles but clearly some people in the counties of Leicestershire and Rutland are as the above website includes close-up photos of 306 (as counted by myself so not to be assumed as correct) varieties of flies ‘in two dipteran sub-orders’ of ‘higher flies’ (therefore not including species such as crane-flies, midges and gnat, these classed as lower orders – less complex). I counted 56 categories within the two ‘sub-orders’, so there is a lot to learn if flies are your thing.

The experience that set me off on this train of thought was while sitting on a park bench a few days ago at just before 10pm I was watching a few swallows feeding on the wing (have not seen any official figures but from casual observation there seems to have been far fewer swallows and swifts this year), these followed by the first bats feeding on the wing before light faded to darkness. With ‘feeding on the wing’ they were twisting and turning in the air to follow and ‘get’ insect prey that may well have been flies.

Flying insects are essential to the food chain of these birds and bats. Swallows, martins and swifts migrate (some to Southern Hemisphere) as the life cycle of many local flying insects comes to an end.

(to be continued)