I was at the kitchen window washing up when I spotted the telltale flight patterns of hoverflies – the very first I had seen this year, and as often noted in the past, the spots where the hovering was taking place were repetitive, and the fly hovering would be mobbed by another, then both would fly off, and one or other would return to the same point in space.
For a moment I wondered should I be tempted to try capturing them in flight, then I dried my hands, gathered up a card popped the 100mm Macro on the Canon 7D, and went out into the sunshine and slightly gusty breeze. There were several different hoverflies around, the predominant ones were furry, not the smooth and sleek wasp-like ones of summer, these wore winter coats! At first tried to be near the common spot in space, but it seemed like my presence modified their airspace, so the hovered elsewhere. So, I thought I would make life a little easier and simply attempt to get close when they were static, resting for ablutions on leaves bathed in sunshine or the warmth of a terracotta pot.
It was at this time I spotted a very different insect, one that not only hovered, but was wedge-shaped and with a long proboscis, I described it to myself as a hummingbird hoverfly, something I had never before seen. Later courtesy of Google and a Utah Wildlife site, I learned it was a bee fly, and as I had suspected was a Spring pollinator. It flew slightly slower, and so as I was still wearing ‘L-plates’ this was nature making it easier for me to get up to scratch! What was not quite so useful was there only seemed to be one of this species and it had a habit of hiding, so not everything was stacked in my favour! Here was my challenge – catch it sipping nectar, and then withdrawing and moving to the next flower, and I got lucky. I managed to get one of the more abundant furry hoverflies away from the bushes and close to the daisies in the grass, and then when it landed on one for a wash ’n’ brush up. I also spotted one tiny bee disappear down a tiny hole between flagstones, and on closer inspection realised there were numerous small holes excavated, that most likely were the homes of my other flying friends.
I did a quick check in the front garden, which was normally a very good hoverfly hunting ground, but not today, but I did spot the bud of a lone tulip, took some quick shots before going to the back again and finishing my shoot. I felt like very like Gerald Durrell in ‘My Family and Other Animals’, with my pre-occupation with macro photography of insects, but it really is a whole new world when you are up close, and the aerobatics of hoverflies is endlessly fascinating.