Last week I had another very good trip with Trevor to the local wildlife site where I had seen the fascinating Snail Shell Bee back in May. See my blog post Of Snail Shell bees and where the Wild Bees live.
The site is about twenty minutes by car from my house and the land is much chalkier. This may account for the huge number of snails and the consequent presence of the snailshell bee, Osmia bicolour. .. and, to my delight, another bee who uses snail shells for nests, the charming and blue eyed Osmia spinulosa.
We saw quite a few as we walked along and then were lucky to find a female fast asleep in the centre of a flower. She was completely oblivious to both us and our cameras and stayed like this for a good five minutes, only flying away after a beam of sun broke through the clouds and warmed up her flower. From a casual glance you would easily mistake her for another species of bee. There are quite a few which have a similar orange haired scopa...but the eyes are the clue, the beautiful and unusual blue eyes which exhibit the strange Moiré pattern of the facetted compound eyes of bees.
We did not spot any of the shell homes, with the very lush vegetation at the moment it would be hard to find them as they are hidden away at the best of times. These little bees are more common in the south and you may find them on flowers of the daisy family in areas of undisturbed, rough tussocky grass.
Before posting this I checked the ID with my bee mentor Alan Phillips who also double checked with bee expert George Else so I am pretty confident about this one.
There wasn’t very much sun but enough to liven up the bees and encourage some butterflies. Meadow Browns were everywhere, we saw dainty skippers and this pretty Marbled White which stopped to feed on the knapweed.
And lastly, almost invisible and resting on a fence post, a huge Privet Hawk Moth, our largest moth. On the wing it has an almost 5 inch wingspan.
What beautiful things they are with their silken wings and soft, pinky, brown-grey colours. (very, very paintable!)
Thanks again to Trevor for another illuminating walk. It is always a pleasure to walk with someone who is both knowledgeable and appreciative. Next time I am hoping to see the tiny harebell bee..if it ever stops raining!