“OMG,” I said to R, half way through the day. “I’m going to have to go out in this.”
This being a soft but wetting rain, coupled with the kind of thick mist you see around the edges of a car wash. I thought about checking the humidity, to see if my assessment that it must be off the scale was correct – but to what end? I had to go out in it anyway, and it wasn’t going to improve my mood to know that the air was so full of water it couldn’t hold any more, and the stuff was simultaneously falling and condensing on every available surface.
I thought quite hard about my life choices, and then sighed, put my boots on, and went out.
By the time I’d photographed the nearest wet flower I was more or less drenched, so it hardly seemed worth giving up at that stage, and eventually I found myself down in the wild garden, where I spotted someone else who was probably reconsidering her choices. Most invertebrates remove themselves to the under side of leaves in weather like this, and stay there for as long as necessary, but this hoverfly was sitting out on a leaf of the quince tree, clearly too cold by now to fly, looking absolutely miserable, and occasionally using her forelegs to wipe the raindrops off her eyes.
I never attempt to identify these black and yellow stripy jobs, but the hoverfly recording people tell me that she’s a Syrphus ribesii. I don’t know how they can tell that from this rather grainy photo, but I’m not going to argue about it. S. ribesii is one of our most common hoverflies, and is often found in woodland. The males tend to congregate either as a swarm, or resting close together on foliage, where they have the mysterious habit of vibrating their wings; if there are enough of them in one place, this can produce an audible humming sound. Adults of this species feed on nectar, but their larvae are aphidophagous.