After an obligatory trip to Sainsbury's to restock the bare cupboards, Pete and I took the dogs to Bedford Purlieus. This proved a bit traumatic for them. Our normal route includes a large grassy area which had been recently grazed by ponies (though none seemed to be present while we were there) and all the access gates had been locked to avoid the ponies straying onto the A47. This meant that we had to lift the dogs over the gates four times in total. Gemma's quite a hefty dog and hates being picked up - after it had happened the first time she tried to avoid Pete heaving her over, making it more difficult than ever.
For much of the walk we were surrounded by storms, although we were lucky enough to avoid the torrential downpours, and only got dampened by a light shower of rain. The dogs hate thunder and took quite a bit of convincing that it was OK to carry on and that we shouldn't all flee back to the car. Thanks to the weather there weren't many butterflies about - no signs of common blues or brown argus which are usually numerous, and certainly no white admirals, silver-washed fritillaries or white-letter hairstreak.
As we arrived back at the car Pete spotted this hoverfly, busy washing itself. Chrysotoxum bicinctum is widespread throughout Britain and Europe but normally encountered in small numbers. It has very distinctive markings, with two bright yellow stripes on the abdomen and a purplish patch on the wing The larvae are thought to feed on root aphids. Adults are usually found on the edges of woodland or scrub or along hedgerows where they visit a wide range of flowers.