Monday, 6 August 2018

A weekend of pollinators.

The weather although a bit cloudy has been fair and warm which has been great for pollinators.  I spent a nice afternoon on Saturday walking the road from Sanagimore to Kindrochid finishing off a pollinator survey.  Despite the verges having been cut earlier in July the margins beyond the cut were still prolific in flowers knapweed, the bramble bushes and meadowsweet providing the main focus to bumblebees and butterflies.  Near the Islay Development apiary site the honeybees have been mainly foraging on bramble and the meadowsweet too, the latter made obvious with a build up of green pollen in the bee's pollen sacks.  Observation indicated bees were focusing either one or the other, not mixing visits between flowers.
Green-veined White

Tachina grossa

A large fly called Tachina grossa  has been a frequent sight these past few weeks, black and the size of a medium sized bumblebee, soldier beetle, along with other flies it was favouring the umbelifers, in this case Hogweed.

Soldier Beetle

At the Islay Development apiary site there is a patch of hedge woundwort in front of the hives, although some of the honeybees can be seen visiting the flowers the main interest is from the bumblebees (the longer tongue of the bumbles able to access better the tubular funnel of the flower), primarily Garden bumblebee and Carder bees.  I counted c. 35 in total at one tally.  
Wasp visiting Figwort

Sunday's Killinallan dune walk was not attended by anyone this week, but I walked through the dunes anyway to see what was out and about.  There were plenty of butterflies: Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Grayling, Small Heath, and Dark Green Fritillary.  Flowers now showing were Devil's Bit Scabious, Harebell and Autumn Gentian with many of those out a month ago setting seed and on the wane.

Snowy Inkcap on cattle dung

Dark Green Fritillary

My end goal was to reach the beach at the point, below me down the dune was a fantastic patch of Sea Rocket in full bloom and on closer inspection was a very busy place, 4-5+ white-tailed Bumblebees on each bush and then lots of smaller bees which when I got in close up all turned out to be the small mining bee Colletes floralis, hundreds of them!  I spent ages with camera aiming for the perfect shot, and scanned up and down all the clumps to see what other bees there were.  A red tailed individual caught my eye, bees with red tails are not at all common here, I never did get a great shot of it but my first Mountain Bumblebee, there appeared to be only the one amongst the....195 white-tailed bumblebees, yes I counted them, give or take 5 or 10?  I got very excited by a very yellow looking bee, so took lots of pics, for ID later, it has turned out to be a male white-tailed bumblebee, in all the surveys I have been doing this is the first one I have knowingly seen, quite distinctive and different from the female queen and workers.  I so wanted it to be a great yellow bumblebee, but alas no big fanfare, that would be a first for Islay!

Colletes floralis

Mountain Bumblebee

Male White-tailed Bumblebee, the only one amongst the 195 others

Fiona MacGillivray

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