Tapered drone fly

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Today was what you might call a bit of a curate’s egg: good in parts.

I made a first visit this morning to Ryton Pools Country Park, near Coventry, and had a very enjoyable walk. It’s a place with a good mix of habitats, and also butts up against a couple of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust sites, so I was able to harvest shots of a good range of species in quite a short space of time; the main paths around the park, which are gravelled and have either verges or hedgerows to each side, proved particularly fruitful. I was especially pleased to see lots of different hoverflies, including one that I’d never recorded before, because so far this year I’ve seen many fewer hoverflies than in the past couple of summers.

This is a female Eristalis pertinax – and after yesterday’s uncertainty (resolved when mollyblobs kindly identified the flower for me as hemlock water-dropwort) this time I’m pretty confident that she’s nectaring on hogweed. E. pertinax is one of the bee-mimicking hoverflies known as drone flies; and this one is described as tapered because (especially in males) the abdomen is more pointed than in the otherwise similar species Eristalis tenax. There are other much more conclusive ways of telling the two apart, such as the colour of the face and the colour and shape of the legs, but the first thing I often notice about them is that while E. tenax tends to keep itself to itself, E. pertinax is quite bold and curious – in my garden I often find them following me around, and after a bit of practice I now find it reasonably easy to get photos of them in flight, as they stalk me about the place.

So, that was the good bit. The bad bit was taking the MX-5 in for its 2-year service, quite confident that nothing bad would be reported – only to receive a phone call telling me that the pads and discs need to be replaced on both front and back brakes. As the car has done less than 11,000 miles, and as I drive on the gears rather than the brakes (“We only have your word for that,” said the service receptionist, unwisely), I was astonished and, frankly, outraged. Several free and frank exchanges of views took place, which culminated in me telling the dealership to complete the service but do nothing else, and then removing the car to Stratford, where I had a chat with the people at the garage I used to use before being foolish enough to buy a Mazda. The car is booked in with them to be checked over next week, and whatever needs doing to the brakes will be done by them. Given that R used to have a Mazda CX-5, which also fell to bits at two years old, I really should have had more sense than to buy another of their cars – however lovely it looks, and however much fun it is to drive. Not a mistake I’m likely ever to make again.