Last week during the wonderful sunny weather, I noticed hundreds of St Marks flies hanging round outside my window whilst working at home, so called because they emerge around St Marks day - 25th April. They reminded me of this time last year when I was out surveying in the sand dunes on the Sefton Coast. They emerge in their thousand and just ‘hang’ out over the dunes so you can’t help but notice them! Seeing them in the garden reminded me of what I would have been looking for had the current restrictions not been in place - here’s a few images of some of my favourite creatures from last year, that I am enjoying looking through whilst working from home!
Northern Dune Tiger Beetle, warming up in the sunshine ready for hunting.
Natterjack Toad, it was unusual to see this one out on the dunes in the daytime, as they are nocturnal.
Female Sand Lizard, look how well camouflaged she is.
Male Sand Lizard, he doesn’t look it here, but he too, is amazingly well camouflaged in the dune grasses!
Although we are all restricted to home, there is plenty to remind us of what is happening out on the sand dunes as we carry out our day to day lives. Anyway back in my garden – the St Marks flies were just floating about, appearing to hang in the air with their legs dangling beneath. They feed on nectar, which explains why they hang around on the creeping willow out on the dunes – a huge nectar source for many insects, including:
Colletes Bees, another one of my favourite dune species.
The St Marks flies, also known as the Hawthorn fly, are apparently good pollinators of fruit trees – and looking up there they were congregating above the cherry tree in the garden. Although they appear to be just floating – they have quite a turn of speed, particularly when pointing the camera at them (hence the photo sat on the blossom) or when they are escaping the catching hands of my six year old!
So although I am missing being out there surveying, I’m glad of the pictures I took, and in the mean-time I will take a closer look at the wildlife in my garden, whilst waiting for the time I can get back out on the sand dunes.
Gems in the Dunes Project Manager