The Queen of the Wood

Queen hornet (Vespa crabro)

Dear Readers, is there any flying creature in the UK that is more feared than the hornet? Wasps may induce a bout of counterproductive flapping at a picnic, a bee in close proximity can be loud and intimidating, but the mere sight of a hornet droning like a Lancaster Bomber across a woodland glade is enough to make many people take a step back. I spotted this queen hornet in Coldfall Wood, and very impressive she was too. They are big insects – workers can be an inch long, but a queen can easily be an inch and a half (don’t laugh, folk in tropical climes! It’s what we count as large here in the UK). In spite of their reputation, hornets are actually much less aggressive than wasps, unless you are unfortunate enough to disturb a nest, at which point I would hope I had my track shoes on. Hornets not only emit an ‘alarm pheromone’ which attracts the attention of other hornets in the event of danger, but also perform a dance outside the nest to gather reinforcements. Hornets are mentioned three times in the Bible, and every time they were enlisted to drive out enemies of ‘the children of Israel’, so we can imagine that our ancestors were well aware of the salutary effect of an airborne army of hornets on the rampage. Having said all this, however, hornets generally just want to get on with their business of making a nest and raising their young, pretty much like the rest of us.

This hornet was very interested in the decaying wood on this oak tree, so I suspect she was gathering wood to make her impressive paper nest, which is often made in the vacated nest holes of birds such as woodpeckers or nuthatches. She chews up the wood to make ‘paper’ and then constructs her nest – the proportion of saliva to wood determines how water-resistant the nest will be. All members of the wasp family like to make their nests in dark places, and so if they can’t find a shady spot they will enlarge the ‘envelope’ around the outside to make it darker inside.

Photo One by By Ocrdu - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76554042

Hornets’ nest (Photo One)

Sadly, everybody these days seems to have read about the Asian hornet (Vespa volutina), which has got as far as France. It is feared because it preys on honeybees, and can destroy whole hives, particularly ones already weakened by lack of food or by disease. All the nests spotted so far have been destroyed, but many of the ‘sightings’ were of European hornets . Nonetheless, folk only have to see a large stripy insect to lose all rational thought. Here, for the record, is an Asian hornet. If you see one, and particularly if you think you know of a nest, do let DEFRA know. As you can see, Asian hornets are much darker in colour than European hornets.

Photo Two by By Siga - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12029632

Asian Hornet (Vespa volutina) (Photo Two)

The European hornet is a creature of ancient woodland, and spends much of its time hunting for prey such as caterpillars, moths, and even dragonflies. They are also known to steal food from spider webs, and as some species of wasp will take spiders as prey, arachnids usually keep a low profile while this is going on. It’s easy to forget what beneficial creatures members of the wasp family are: for most of their lives they are carnivorous, taking cabbage white caterpillars and all manner of other larvae by the bucketload.

In ‘Bugs Britannica’ by Peter Marren and Richard Mabey, there is this wonderful tale.

‘ I watched a hornet mining its way into a ripe apple’, says Lawrence Trowbridge. ‘Having dug out a tunnel about the width and length of the hornet’s body, it flew to a perch about a metre away. After a short while, flies began to be attracted to the hole in the apple. The hornet waited patiently until several flies were inside feasting on the sweet juice. Then it suddenly darted out, perched on the apple and killed one fly after another as they tried to escape. Soon afterwards it returned to the apple and carried off the corpses, one at a time, presumably to its nest to feed its brood’. 

Whether the hornet had worked out what would happen or was simply taking advantage of the situation, it reminds me that the ability to capitalise on a situation is characteristic of the wasp family – I well remember a wasp returning again and again to the remains of my salmon sandwich to carve off slivers of fish, surely a food that it had never come across before. Soon I realised that it had told its friends too. In the end half a dozen wasps were attending my sandwich in relays, until not a scrap was left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In some parts of Asia, particularly Japan and China, wasp and hornet larvae have traditionally been eaten, and in the village of Kushihara in Japan they are even ‘farmed’ – small nests are gathered, and ‘grown’ inside special huts. The wasps are fed with raw meat and the nests looked after with great care until the larvae and pupae are ‘harvested’ in autumn, with a special wasp festival, hebo matsuri, being held on 3rd November. You can read more about it here, and fascinating it is too.

I prefer my hornets unmolested though. Watching this one flitting around the oak tree, going about her own business filled me with a sense of wonder, and the feeling that at least some things are still happening in the way that they should. After the coldest May on record, which has led to the failure of so many nests, it’s good to have something to be glad of.

By the way, for anyone  who is interested in wasps, I can recommend this fascinating book by Eric R. Eaton – ‘Wasps: The Astonishing Diversity of a Misunderstood Insect‘. Excellent bedtime reading.

 

 

 

 

A Bank Holiday Walk in East Finchley Cemetery

Dear Readers, as you might remember there are two cemeteries within easy walking distance of my house. One is St Pancras and Islington Cemetery, with its many wild spaces, and the other is East Finchley Cemetery, which is a lot more manicured. Both are splendid places for a walk when everywhere else is jammed – parks and the seaside are full to busting this year, what with people not being able to travel abroad very much. During our hour’s visit, we probably saw no more than a dozen people, and two of them were strimming the grass.

We saw this insect dangling above a patch of bramble, and very fine s/he was too, with the sun glinting off the little triangular patch at the base of the wing covers. I suspect that this is a Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus). Apparently it mostly eats dock (as the name suggests) but this one was advancing along the stem of some sorrel. The other member of the family that you’re likely to see is the Box Bug (Gonocerus acuteangulatus), which I spotted in the other cemetery a few weeks ago. It’s funny how once you’ve spotted a particular kind of plant or animal, it seems to pop up everywhere.

Last time I was here, this patch of hedgerow geranium was just coming into flower. Look at it now! it was abuzz with bees, in spite of being in a relatively shady spot. Every UK wildlife garden should have some species geraniums in it, I’m convinced.

Hedgerow geraniums (Geranium pyrenaicum)

And I was much taken by this lovely little tree. We used to call this a Spanish Chestnut, but according to my tree book it’s a Red Horse Chestnut, a cross between Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia) and a standard Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). The tree guide calls it ‘an abundant plant of rather endearing ugliness’. Hah! I obviously have strange tastes, because I think it punches well above its weight in terms of spectacular blossom.

By the way, has anyone ever noticed how the flowers of ribwort plantain look like tiny solar systems, with the planets all orbiting around the central sun? Or maybe it’s just me.

Then we headed off to the crematorium. What a splendid Italianate building this is! It is owned not by the council, but by the London Cremation Company, who also own the crematorium in Golders Green, which is also very fine.

We weren’t expecting this though!

Sadly no one was at home when we visited. Though this might seem like a most unpleasant place to nest, most birds have no sense of smell (with kiwis and turkey vultures being two notable exceptions), and also some birds used cigarette ends to help to remove parasites, so maybe it wasn’t such a terrible idea.

And here is another splendid tree. I’m thinking this could be Yellow Buckeye, yet another member of the horse chestnut family, but no doubt my North American readers can put me right if not.

And finally, my eyes were drawn to this bank of wallflowers from several hundred metres away. I’ve never seen them in such bold colours, they were so bright that I’m sure they left a shadow on my retina, as if I’d looked at the sun for too long. The bees didn’t seem to mind though. As with geraniums, I think that wallflowers are not always given the respect that they deserve as plants for pollinators – they flower for a long period and, in my garden at least, the bumblebees are always hovering around my Bowles Mauve wallflower, which is two years old and hasn’t completely stopped flowering for a single day in all that time. Sometimes, plants are popular for a reason, and I daresay there are things I’ve planted that were much more expensive that haven’t done as well as my ‘cheap and cheerfuls’.

 

Wednesday Weed – California Poppy

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

 

Dear Readers, some of the tree pits along the County Roads in East Finchley have been planted up with seeds, and I’m always fascinated to see what ‘escapes’ and starts to grow in the cracks and crevices of the pavement. Poppies seem to be particularly fond of doing this: there are very pretty lemon-yellow Welsh poppies in several locations, and there was an abundance of opium poppies outside my friend A’s house a year or so ago. These are plants of poor soil and disturbed ground, so a north London street is very little problem for them.

Welsh poppies on Trinity Road, East Finchley

Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum)

California poppy is one of those plants that grows from seed without any messing about – throw a handful in the soil and off it goes. This one had attracted a marmalade hoverfly (as you can see from the photo), and cheap and cheerful doesn’t even begin to cover its attractions – it seems perfect for a child’s garden to me, when you want something reliable, bright and long-flowering. The commonest varieties are golden or orange, though I have seen some dusky pink ones too.

As you might expect from the name, California poppies come from the Western United States, from Washington in the north all the way down to Baja California in the south. It’s said that the whole 1745 acres of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is carpeted in orange when the poppies are in flower. What a sight that must be! It’s said that the early Spanish explorers could navigate by the sight of the orange hills, and that they called the plant ‘Cup of Gold’ (copa de oro). Very appropriate.

Like many flowers, California poppies open up when it’s sunny, and stay closed when it’s chilly. The flowers also close at night time, giving it another Spanish name, ‘Dormidera’, meaning ‘to fall asleep’.

Photo One by By User:Vsion - Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=209016

California poppies at the Antelope Valley reserve in California (Photo One)

There is a subspecies of the poppy that can be found in the Monterey Bay area, and is yellow and much lower growing.

Photo Two By Peter D. Tillman - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38654420

Maritime poppies (E. californica subsp. californica var. maritima) (Photo Two)

Poppies of all kinds are attractive to insects because of their pollen – both the UK’s field poppy and the California poppy produce abundant amounts of this protein-rich bee food. The flowers are edible by humans (in moderation) and are sometimes used as a garnish, though they aren’t much used for their seeds as other species are. In the UK the plant is largely grown as an annual, but as it self-seeds everywhere I suspect that once you have it it will be with you forever. It is drought-tolerant but doesn’t like heavy clay soils, which is a bit of a pity as that’s exactly what I have. No wonder ‘my’ plant is lurking outside my front door in a crack in the pavement.

The golden poppy (another name for the California poppy but the same species) has been the state flower of California since 1903, and can be seen on many of the road signs.

Photo Three by CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=397719

Route 1 road sign in California (Photo Three)

 

Medicinally, the plant seems to be associated, like so many poppies, with treatments for various forms of anxiety, from insomnia to bed-wetting. It’s said that it isn’t an opioid like other poppies, and has been used to help those addicted to morphine/heroin to ‘kick the habit‘. Native American peoples thought it gentle enough to be made into a tea to soothe their children. The Plant Lore website reports that

‘My grandfather used to pick and dry California poppies (the whole plant), then grind it all up and roll it into cigarette papers and smoke it. This gave him and his friends a mild euphoric feeling, with no known side effects [Andover, Hampshire, December 2013].’

Was there anything that folk haven’t dried and tried to smoke, I wonder? I remember a friend of mine smoking a cigarette through the shell of a green pepper because he was told that it would make him feel euphoric. I have no idea if it worked, but it certainly ruined my intended stir-fry.

‘My’ California poppy popping up outside the front door.

And finally, a poem. I rather liked this by Sandra McPherson, a poet that I hadn’t come across before. I think she captures the strange cruelty of cutting a flower for our own pleasure – the image of the twitching frog’s legs will stay with me for quite a while. See what you think.

Poppies by Sandra McPherson (1943 – )

Orange is the single-hearted color. I remember
How I found them in a vein beside the railroad,
A bumble-bee fumbling for a foothold
While the poppies' petals flagged beneath his boot.

I brought three poppies home and two buds still sheathed.
I amputated them above the root. They lived on artlessly
Beside the window for a while, blazing orange, bearing me
No malice. Each four-fanned surface opened

To the light. They were bright as any orange grove.
I watched them day and night stretch open and tuck shut
With no roots to grip, like laboratory frogs' legs twitching
Or like red beheaded hens still hopping on sheer nerves.

On the third afternoon one bud tore off its green glove
And burst out brazen as Baby New Year.
Two other poppies dropped their petals, leaving four
Scribbly yellow streamers on a purple-brimmed and green

Conical cadaver like a New Year's hat.
I'd meant to celebrate with them, but they seemed
So suddenly tired, these aging ladies in crocheted
Shawl leaves. They'd once been golden as the streets

Of heaven, now they were as hollow.
They couldn't pull together for a last good-bye.
I had outlived them and had only their letters to read,
Fallen around the vase, saying they were sorry.

Photo Credits

Photo One By User:Vsion – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=209016

Photo Two By Peter D. Tillman – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38654420

Photo Three by CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=397719

A Tiny Visitor

Celery Fly (Euleia heraclei)

 

Dear Readers, I was absolutely fascinated by this tiny fly on my angelica yesterday. I know that it’s a celery fly, and that its larvae will happily mine the leaves on what is currently my favourite pondside plant, but what a performer it is! My photo is far from perfect, but hopefully you can see that it has a shiny black body, wings rippled with chocolate, a bright yellow head and green eyes. All this in a critter smaller than my little fingernail.

It seemed to be displaying, though I couldn’t see anyone apart from me who was enjoying the show. The fly twisted its wings from side to side, hopped from one leaf to another, investigated the fallen pollen from the angelica flowers, disappeared briefly and then hopped back again.

And to my delight, a bit of research showed me that this male fly is actually displaying, and furthermore you can watch it too:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Euleia_heraclei_-_2015-06-17.webm#file

Celery flies lay their eggs on the leaves of the host plant, and the larvae burrow in and mine the inside, leaving a brown or yellow blotch. After four weeks, the larvae drop to the ground and pupate in the soil, with a second generation emerging later in the summer. I found it very interesting that the first generation of larvae burrow to a measly four or five centimetres down into the ground, but the second generation, who have to survive through the winter, will dig down to about 10 centimetres. Nature really is quite remarkable.

I would never have seen this fly if I hadn’t grown my angelica, and so it seems that whenever yo you plant something, you don’t just get the flora, you get the fauna that it attracts too. The angelica is now taller than me, and is attracting not just bees, but an early blue butterfly too – this one is a holly blue, and I hope that it’s found the ivy that’s overtaking my shed for its eggs. I am so delighted with this plant, and if you have a damp patch in the garden and don’t mind something huge, I’d definitely plant this beauty.

The End of May in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

The highpoint of the cow parsley show?

Dear Readers, I have been fascinated by the speed at which the massed ranks of flowers come and go in the cemetery. One week it’s full of forget-me-nots and the next it’s ablaze with buttercups. This week, the rhododendrons have just opened, and, in spite of the honey made from it being hallucinogenic, the bumblebees were very enthusiastic (see the pollen baskets on the bee on the right of the photo).

The meadow in the woodland grave area is full of red campion…

And the swamp cypress is greening out nicely…..

Under the horse chestnut trees, the masses of ground ivy and violas have been completely submerged under a sea of black medick, a tiny yellow clover.

But what really catches my eye this week are the patches of germander speedwell. I thought that the forget-me-nots were blue, but this plant is an intense lavender-blue colour.

Germander speedwell

Elsewhere, the red clover is coming into flower, and I am wondering if some of these flowers are actually the slighter rarer zigzag clover (Trifolium medium). I should have bent down and had a closer look – the flowers of zigzag clover are on a stalk, whereas those of red clover are more or less stalkless. Maybe next week I’ll have the wit to bend over for a closer look.

On the path next to the North Circular Road the salsify flowers are out in force, and very pretty they look too, though I remain puzzled as to how on earth they got here.

Salsify flowers

The herb Bennett (wood avens) is in flower too.

Herb Bennett (Geum urbanum)

I have this all over my garden, along with herb Robert, greater celandine and green alkanet, and to tell you the truth I’ve rather given up the battle in some of the damper, shadier places. The plants that thrive there are perfectly suited to the habitat, and only this week I got into a gentle Facebook argument with someone who, when told that the plant they’d photographed was herb Robert, said ‘Oh, I thought it was a wild geranium’. It is, of course, a wild geranium, and not only is it very pretty in its place, but it is also often visited by pollinators, like this green-veined white (Pieris napi).

And finally, here is a last burst of germander speedwell blue, to power us through the week. Who knows what will have taken over from it by next week?

A Walk with a Good Friend at Walthamstow Wetlands

Dear Readers, as a society I think we often undervalue friendship in favour of familial or romantic partnerships, and yet the people who are often there for us through all of life’s uncertainties are our friends. On Thursday I visited Walthamstow Wetlands with my friend S. This year we will be celebrating our fortieth ‘friendiversary’ – we met in Scotland when we were 21 and both working as Community Service Volunteers. We haven’t seen one another since before this latest lockdown, and yet one sign of friendship for me is that we instantly drop into conversation as if we’ve never been apart. With so much shared history, there is much that we don’t have to explain to one another, and sometimes a whole incident can be retrieved from memory with a few words or a gesture that would be inexplicable to anyone else. True friendship is a very particular kind of love: my friends are often very different from me and from one another, and yet what we share is a deep concern for nature, a desire for justice and a need for real connection.

So, we grabbed a coffee at Walthamstow Wetlands café and sat down to catch up. There was much to distract us: there was a spotted flycatcher hawking from a nearby tree, and the cries of swifts from the nest boxes in the chimney of the old engine room.

However, all was not as it seemed – I got talking to a chap from the London Wildlife Trust who told me that, ahem, there weren’t yet any swifts in the nest boxes – the cheery sound of swifts nesting was a recording meant to encourage any passing swifts to take up residence. I shall have to see if it’s worked when I visit next – there were plenty of swifts over the garden in East Finchley this morning, so let’s see if it works.

S and I were just settling down with the flat whites when I noticed a Canada goose leaving the reservoir behind us and heading up the bank with a few goslings. Adorable! And then there was another gosling. And another one. And another one.

In the end we counted 17 goslings. Good grief! I wondered if they all belonged to this set of parents, or if they’d just picked up a few along the way – geese often adopt stray goslings, so strong are their parental instincts. What was lovely about these was that they paid us no attention at all, but simply grazed away naturally.

It wasn’t just the Canada geese either. We’d already seen several Greylag goose families by the entrance to the other part of the Wetlands.

At first I took this plant for viper’s bugloss, but it could also be phacelia. It was absolutely covered in bees. What do you think?

There’s a family of shelducks with tiny spotted ducklings too, but way off in the distance.

And, as we loop around and head back to the entrance, we spot this heron, no doubt keeping an eye open for tasty frogs and sticklebacks.

What is great about Walthamstow Wetlands is that although it’s still a working reservoir, it has, in the past three years, become one of London’s most important sites for biodiversity. Last year it even attracted a pair of passing spoonbills, a most unlikely visitor to East London! But even with the Canada geese, a common bird by anyone’s standards, there can be moments of magic, which are all the lovelier for being shared with a good friend. It’s so easy to take established relationships for granted, but if this last eighteen months has taught us anything, it’s that we should treasure those that we share our history with.

Saturday Quiz – Dawn Chorus – Version 2!

Title Photo by Brian Robert Marshall / Song thrush near Faringdon Folly

Song thrush singing (Title Photo)

Hi Everyone, here’s a revised version of the quiz – hopefully you shouldn’t be able to see the bird names this time, which rather defeated the object :-). Same ten birds (plus one), but in a different order. Many thanks to Claire, Rosalind and Mike for letting me know. Unfortunately while I can preview the post, for some reason it appears that the mail that you get is not the same, which is most unhelpful. I shall asking WordPress if there’s any way of previewing the email before it goes out. 

Dear Readers, International Dawn Chorus Day was on the first Sunday in May, but in many places the birds are still going strong. How are your identification skills, though? Below are the songs of 10 British birds that you can often hear first thing in the morning, so let’s see how good you are at telling one from another. I’ve made this multiple choice because it ain’t as easy as it sounds. I’ve also tried not to include too many birds that sound the same, but until you get your ‘ear in’ that can be a tough call. I will do a quick post on what I’ve learned about bird songs next week.

Simply match the sounds to the birds. So, if you think song (1) is a blue tit, your answer is 1) a).

As usual, answers in the comments by Thursday 3rd June (5 p.m. UK time) and I will post the results on Friday 4th June. I will ‘disappear’ any answers that I spot, but if you are easily influenced by what came before, write them down first.

Onwards!

Species: 

A) Blue Tit

B) Blackbird

C) Song Thrush

D) Chiffchaff

E) Woodpigeon

F) Great Tit

G) Goldfinch

H) Robin

I) Wren

J) Chaffinch

The Songs….

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

6)

7)

8)

9)

10)

And finally, this is about as un-British a bird as you could hope to find. An extra point for anyone who can guess what on earth this is…..

11)

Saturday Quiz – Dawn Chorus

Title Photo by Brian Robert Marshall / Song thrush near Faringdon Folly

Song thrush singing (Title Photo)

Hi all, it’s come to my attention that the mail you received this morning might have included the answers to all the questions below 🙁 – let me know in the comments if this has happened to you! What I intend to do is to mix the sound files up later this afternoon and see if I can remove any ID so you can still have a go. Blooming WordPress…..

Dear Readers, International Dawn Chorus Day was on the first Sunday in May, but in many places the birds are still going strong. How are your identification skills, though? Below are the songs of 10 British birds that you can often hear first thing in the morning, so let’s see how good you are at telling one from another. I’ve made this multiple choice because it ain’t as easy as it sounds. I’ve also tried not to include too many birds that sound the same, but until you get your ‘ear in’ that can be a tough call. I will do a quick post on what I’ve learned about bird songs next week.

Simply match the sounds to the birds. So, if you think song (1) is a blue tit, your answer is 1) a).

As usual, answers in the comments by Thursday 3rd June (5 p.m. UK time) and I will post the results on Friday 4th June. I will ‘disappear’ any answers that I spot, but if you are easily influenced by what came before, write them down first.

Onwards!

Species: 

A) Blue Tit

B) Blackbird

C) Song Thrush

D) Chiffchaff

E) Woodpigeon

F) Great Tit

G) Goldfinch

H) Robin

I) Wren

J) Chaffinch

The Songs….

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

6)

7)

8)

9)

10)

And finally, this is about as un-British a bird as you could hope to find. An extra point for anyone who can guess what on earth this is…..

11)

Saturday Quiz – What’s the Bee? – The Answers!

Title Photo by Patrick Rock, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Bumblebee….(Title Photo)

Dear Readers, we all did very well this week! Claire got 10/11, Fran and Bobby got 10 1/2 out of 11 ( Number 8 was an ashy mining bee), and the joint winners this week are Mike from Alittlebitoutoffocus and Mal from FEARN with 11 out of 11. Well done everybody!

Photo One By Kyd (Joseph Clayton Clarke) - http://www.oldbookart.com/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18557519

1)

This is Mr Bumble the Beadle from Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, so I’m looking for ‘Bumblebee’.

Photo Two By A&M Records - Billboard Magazine, page 2, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75866990

2)

The lovely Carpenters, so this is Carpenter Bee. And here’s a link to probably my favourite Carpenters song, though it’s a close run thing between this and ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__VQX2Xn7tI

 

3)  Alone Again (Naturally) – YouTube

Solitary Bee!

4)

Photo Four by Ben Rollman from https://www.flickr.com/photos/xadrian/7930303196/

4)a)

PLUS

Photo 4b I, MarcusObal, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

4)b)

Hairy-footed flower bee. You’re welcome 🙂

Photo Five Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

5)

This is the famous Ivy restaurant in London’s Covent Garden, so the answer is Ivy Bee

Photo Six By MesserWoland, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=985225

6)

Mason Bee

7)

Photo 7a Faizan Rabbani, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

7a)

PLUS

Photo 7b Evan-Amos, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

7b)

Leaf-Cutter Bee

8)

Photo 8a I, MarcusObal, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

8)a)

PLUS

Photo 8b from https://picryl.com/media/war-production-drive-anthracite-rallies-coal-mining-is-serious-business-an

8)b)

Ashy Mining Bee

9)

Photo 9a from https://www.flickr.com/photos/shallowend24401/2951338099 by Brian

9)a)

Photo 9b from https://barbrosthreads.com/2014/09/08/hand-carders/

9) b)

Wool Carder Bee

10)

Photo Ten by By Cuculus_canorus_vogelartinfo_chris_romeiks_CHR0791.jpg: Vogelartinfoderivative work: Bogbumper (talk) - Cuculus_canorus_vogelartinfo_chris_romeiks_CHR0791.jpg, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16077960

10)

Cuckoo Bee

And finally, what’s the bee-related link to these lyrics?

11)

The Bee Gees of course! And here’s the official video. Get a load of those trousers !!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNFzfwLM72c

And because it’s Friday, here’s some more Bee Gees with John Travolta 🙂 from 1977. Sigh.

Saturday Night Fever (Bee Gees, You Should be Dancing) John Travolta HD 1080 with Lyrics – YouTube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laying in Wait….

Honeybees on angelica

Dear Readers, for about twenty minutes today the sun shone, and so I wandered outside to take a few photos. My angelica flowers are just opening, and are already a hit with the local honeybees, much to my delight. There is such a feeling of accomplishment when you plant something to attract pollinators and it actually does.

I imagine that the recent wet weather has kept all the pollinators at home, so they will all be playing catch-up. The tadpoles have been very happy though – it’s rained so much that it’s raised the level of the pond, and they are able to forage for algae on the parts of the pond that are usually just a beach. They look very fat and happy to me, but I’ll have to make sure that none of them get stuck as the water level goes down (it’s supposed to be much warmer and drier for the next week or so). The water snails are happy too.

But who is this lurking on one of the other angelica flowers?

This is a young male running crab spider (Philodromus sp.) (many thanks to the British Spider Identification Group on Facebook for the ID). This is a group of fast-moving arachnids who hunt flies and other insects, and who also guard their eggs, which are enclosed in what looks like the tip of a medium-sized cotton bud. I shall have to keep my eyes open to see if any females turn up, and also if the male reappears, because when I popped down to see if I could get another photo he had, true to his name, done a runner. If I was a honeybee or a hoverfly, I would be very careful. Incidentally, these spiders spend the winter hibernating beneath loose bark, yet another reason to not be too tidy in the garden.

In other news, I have about 150 honesty seedlings pinging up from the seeds that my friend J gave me last year. I suspect that the good people of the County Roads in East Finchley where I live are going to have an opportunity to put them all over their gardens if the urge takes them. Now all I have to do is prick them out. I know what the bank holiday is going to hold in store for me!