I think this is some kind of potter’s wasp. It was about half an inch long. It certainly was not a yellow jacket, with which I am far more familiar than I would like to be, or a hornet, ditto, or a mud dauber, which is relatively harmless but which I don’t see much in these parts.
I did a podcast about my process for editing pictures for posting here, using this picture as the example; the podcast went up today.
I received a nice email from an HPR listener in Scotland–HPR has a long reach–suggesting that this is likely a hover fly. Here’s a bit from his email:
Hoverflies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoverfly) are smaller, more
delicate and are from the order Diptera
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fly) like many common flies. They have
only one pair of wings and their heads seem to be mainly composed of two
eyes which sort of point forward. That’s why I think it’s a hoverfly,
from the head shape.
I am no etymologist and I suspect that he is correct.
And I thank him. Making mistakes is how I learn.