Thursday
Jun012017

Anthomyiid Fly

A male Anthomyia plurinotata (Diptera: Anthomyiidae). This is the third member of this species I have come across after the male I collected back in 2014 and the female I photographed back in 2013.

Specimen collected in The Wilderness, Whiteknights Park, Reading, UK on 2017-04-22.


Tuesday
Apr042017

Tachinid Fly

A male Linnaemya vulpina (Diptera: Tachinidae) with 2 missing legs.

Specimen caught on Roseberry Common, North Yorkshire, UK, on 2016-08-23.

Tuesday
Mar142017

Early Season Anthomyiid Flies

I spent most of Sunday the 5th of March trying to identify some Anthomyiid flies I had caught the day before.  There were 4 clean-looking light grey females with yellow halteres and 10 rather grubby little males.  I was using some draft keys produced by Michael Ackland.  I chose first to run the females through his partial key to species females.  The first 3 all ran through to different species in spite of all looking very similar.  None of these species had I come across before and I couldn't get any confirmation from photos on Diptera.info so I had very little confidence in them as identifications.  I eventually gave up and turned to the males. 

I picked out a male with a largish head and with Ackland's draft key to males it ran straight through to Egle ciliata.  A quick check on Diptera.info revealed several very similar images so I took this as a good identification.  The second male ran through to Lasiomma seminitidum which I had also never heard of.  The 3rd, 4th and 5th did the same and from the look of the remaining males it seemed likely that they would also go to the same species.  With so many males of the same species there must surely been some females around?  I went back and ran the first female through the draft female key backwards from Lasiomma seminitidum and it matched every couplet.  The other females did the same.

So what I had was 4 females and 9 males of Lasiomma seminitidulum along with the 1 male of Egle ciliata.  But how come I had not even heard of such an obviously common fly before?  More or less as a last resort I decided to look up Lasiomma in the Genera Characteristics section of Ackland's draft key.  There it stated: "L. seminitidum being one of the earliest species to emerge in early March".  Then I realised I hadn't wasted my day.

Sunday
Feb262017

Annular Solar Eclipse

While looking at Google Maps I happened to notice this black spot over the south Atlantic.  I immediately suspected that this must be Google being clever and showing a solar eclipse and, sure enough, Wikipedia shows that there is an annular solar eclipse in progress in that area at this very moment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse#/media/File:Central_eclipses_2001-2020.png

Saturday
Feb182017

Essence of Linear Algebra

I have just finished watching this excellent series of short videos by Grant Sanderson of 3Blue1Brown on the geometric intuitions behind linear algebra:

Essence of Linear Algebra

They remind me of some maths courses it took with the Open University 20 years ago but they included quite a few things that were new to me.  I particularly liked the matrix interpretation of the differentiation of polynomials in the last video.