Hi again everybody!
So I have done 3 days of sampling, and already found so much! I'm spending 40 minutes in each garden (The Butterfly Explorers garden and The NHM Garden) - within this time I do an invertebrate count for 10 minutes (which is proving to be quite tricky when the flies are flying about!) . The remaining 30 minutes are spent sampling any bees, wasps, hoverflys and other flys that I see using a big sweep net! I then collect them in little glass specimin jars. I have a highly organised separation system for my finds in both gardens - the specimins from the BE garden go in a BHS bag and ones from the NHM garden go in a Clintons Card bag - well they do say that the simple experiments are always the best!
I then make the journey back the the AMCUKB (Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity) to identify my finds - the first thing to do is separate the specimens into bees, wasps and hoverflys, and then go on to identify the species in each group. We did a module on taxonomy and identifying species in biology, but I had no idea how tricky it is to identify insects at species level! The tiniest difference between two insects, which at first glance look identical- is the distinguishing factor that makes them two seperate species. It took me and my supervisor, Lucy, almost 1 and a half hours to identify one hoverfly! The plus side to this is, if I catch that hoverfly again on a different day of sampling I'll be able to identify it within 5 minutes because I know exactly what too look for.
Just to give you an idea of what kind of things we've found so far - some common hoverflys were Syrphus vitripennis, Episyrphus balteatus and Scaeva pyrastri - which were observed in both gardens!
Thanks for reading, and I'll be uploading some pictures, in the next couple of days so please keep checking my blog!