Monday, 30 May 2016

Bank holiday bees

The Safari didn't have a lot of wildlifey joy yesterday for some reason the garden was very quiet. Not sure why it was good and warm, barely a cloud in the sky with little in the way of a breeze - the weather was so good our shorts found their way out of the draw for the first time in at least 18 months!
We found the exuvium of a Blue Tailed Damselfly in the pond, we saw two adults or the same one twice during the afternoon. Other than those/it the only other entries into the notebook where a few species of bumblebees and the first Ruby Tailed Wasp of the year.
We spent an hour or so with Wifey at the garden centre choosing bedding plants. In a quiet corner where the staff stashed hosepipes, wheelbarrows etc one of the assistants found a fledging Dunnock while overhead a pair of Buzzards took advantage of a thermal.
This morning we went out and straight away heard lots of splashing coming from the pond. Our Goldfish were getting very frisky - the ring leader seemed to be the red one we 'rescued' from the pond at work a few weeks ago.
Even the smaller ones were having a go.
Early on there were a few more birds, the pair of Jackdaws putting in a quick smash and grab raid on the suet blocks, the Blackcap was singing from the nearest its been so far and a well grown juvenile Blackbird were pick of the bunch until a mating flight of three Swifts went over screaming very high up, brilliant to watch them scythe at breakneck speed through the azure sky, shame we see them so infrequently here now. Does make us wonder what we've done to the planet when there are no Swifts to be seen on warm summer days.
We watched a solitary bee go in to the be hotel and decided to try to get some pics. It came and went several times but unpredictably. While we waited other insects caught our eye like these Flesh Flies.

Greenbottles (Lucilla sp) are regulars in the garden during the summer and often allow quite a close approach if you're patient and careful.
The trellis against the sunny garage wall is the favoured place for the Ruby Tailed Wasp to hang out. We saw it many times but it wouldn't stay still in a convenient place. Eventually it investigated a hole for a potential bee victim but out rushed a spider. The wasp was struck at but the spider backed off and left alone but when the wasp tried to fly off it was badly tangled in the web. We tried to rescue it but it dropped to the ground still tangled and we haven't sen it since so we don't know if it managed to free itself or not.
A much small spider was seen while we were waiting for the Ruby Tailed Wasp to reappear, a tiny jumping Zebra Spider. Unfortunately it was running down the trellis so its face is a bit too shadowed. These little chaos are great characters and quite feisty, rearing up at you even though your 'only' a billion times bigger than they are.
Eventually we did get our bee pics.
We hadn't realised that the holes don't go all the way back; we'd assumed (once again never assume anything unless told to in Maths/Physics exam paper) that the drilled woodblock and Bamboo tubes were hard up against the back of the box but they're not, there is a gap so the bee could go down one and come out of another making best guessing it tricky to say the least.
Given the huge number of 'duds' we're pleased we managed this one good shot
Once the sun had gone off the garage wall we turned our attentions to the bumble bees and had a little bit of success with this worker Early Bumblebee.

Isn't digital photography a marvel. We must have taken well over 100 shots to get that last one, how much would that have cost in slide film and all that waiting to get them back from the developers to find 99.9% were total tosh! We'll try again perhaps with the plants in pot where we can set up angles and lighting to best effect rather than try getting the bees at plants in situ.
Where to next? There's an interesting year bird turned up not far away if we can persuade Wifey in to giving us a lift after tea, would be a lifer for her too.
In the meantime let us know who's 'bee'n buzzing around your outback today.

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