Saturday, 21 April 2018

A walk round the pond - week 16

The weather has been crazy recently.  After a record low spring temperature only a few weeks ago we have just had the hottest April day in my lifetime so we can expect the natural world to be a bit confused.  Good news was that when I arrived I saw my first swallow of the year, although as Aristotle said, one swallow doth not a summer make (although he said spring and said it in Greekμία γὰρ χελιδὼν ἔαρ οὐ ποιεῖ).

As soon as I approached the pond the male Canada goose came over to check me out.

He didn't get out of the water but I can see he is going to be trouble once the chicks are out and about.

The female is still brooding the eggs.

Also on the ponds are a pair of coots, a pair of little grebes and at least one pair of moorhens, although all these keep their nests well hidden.  The swans' nest looks abandoned and there was no sign of them so I am sure they have given up.  I don't know if that was anything to do with the Canada geese.  Other birds I saw and heard included chiffchaff, blackcap, willow warbler, buzzard and curlew.

I don't know a lot about willows but there appear to be several different sorts on the site.  The flowers on the two trees in full bloom last week have gone over and others have come into bloom so the bees have moved.

The first bee I saw was this one.

You can see she has dark wings and no pollen baskets on her hind legs

so she is a cuckoo bumblebee.  I am pretty sure this is Bombus vestalis, the vestal cuckoo bumblebee.

Other bees I saw were buff-tailed, red-tailed and early bumblebees, and common carder bees such as these.    When you see this you can see why pollination works.

This one shows the proboscis between the two maxillae.

There were several peacock butterflies about.

There were lots of flies and hoverflies as well but fortunately I haven got into hoverfies (yet).  One insect I did recognise was the bee fly, Bombylius major.  It is a bee mimic and is a parasite of solitary bees and wasps.

The long spike at the front is just a proboscis for collecting nectar, which it does while hovering like a hummingbird. This photo was taken at 1/2500th of a second and the wings are still blurred.

Ash buds are just bursting so there will be a lot more green by next week.

Other than on the trees, there aren't many flowers although coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) is still putting on a good show.

The first reports of the emergence of large red damselflies (always the first species to emerge) in the south of England came a week ago.  As spring travels north at 1.8mph we should see them here in a week or two's time.


  1. Are the bursting buds on the ash not the flowers Chris? The purple bits being stamens?

  2. PS love the spring moving north at 1.8mph!