I used to think “Oh, there’s a hoverfly”. Then I realised they weren’t all the same! In fact there are over 280 species in the British Isles and quite a lot can be found in the Combe Valley Countryside Park.
Hoverflies are members of the order Diptera, true flies, all of which have only one pair of wings. Many of them have developed features that mimic bees and wasps, which have two pairs of wings. However, hoverflies are harmless as they do not sting or bite.
Some hoverflies can be seen all year round but the peak season is between April and September. The adults love feeding on nectar so flowers are the place to look and in the valley they seem particularly fond of the umbellifers. Sometimes several species can be found on a single umbellifer head. Many hoverflies will also visit your garden where their larvae are useful as some of them just love aphids.
The photographs show some of the hoverflies that can be found in the valley. Unfortunately there are hardly any standard English names for hoverflies.
All About Hoverflies is a useful page and has lots of photographs.
If you are interested in contributing to the UK Hoverfly Recording Scheme there is a very friendly Facebook group run by some extremely knowledgeable people.
An excellent book is Britain’s Hoverflies (2015, Stuart Ball and Roger Morris), part of the Wild Guides series.
Photos on this page by Peter Hunnisett