Tuesday, 20 September 2011


I was fortunate to be caught in a twittering, fluttering swarm of swallows and martins at Restharrow, in the low sunlight of evening. They resembled a plague of locusts when they flew up from the fences.
Although in flight they mixed and mingled, when they chose their perches they segregated into type - swallows in this case, with these two comforting each other before the long journey south.
There have been many reports of such flocks this week, and Ian at the observatory reporting one of 1,900. Such accuracy is beyond me so I'll settle for over 1,000.

The last blog about miner bees has stirred some interest, and thanks go to Claire and Duncan for identifying the scrum as Ivy Bees Colletes hederae. It's a bee with an interesting story only discovered in 1993 in southern Europe, but then it spread rapidly and turned up in Dorset in 2001. Since then it has marched along the coast and arrived in my friends' garden last year in small numbers. It is now present in its hundreds so the cold winter obviously caused them no problems. I predict that they will reach plague proportions, that will send sensitive lawn-keepers running for the insecticide.

They fly in September, which most bees don't so it's easily recognisable. I might have id'd it myself if I had anything better than an idiot's guide to insects.

A similar bee cropped up in a couple of photos I took of Sea Aster on the rifle range this weekend, but this one looks rather different (and isn't on ivy). Hopefully further edification will be forthcoming, thanks.
[Stop press: Fred was hinted that as the bee is on Sea Aster, it may be the Sea Aster bee Colletes Haliophilus. He's a clever bloke, that Fred. And so subtle - I missed his hint]


Greenie said...

Steve ,
Certainly good to see the hirundine seem to have had a good breeding season .
Re. the bee shots , Sea Aster ?
Re. flower shots 2 posts back , I've been searching for the first two and feel I should know the first , and think the third is Bladder Campion , but have you got names for the other two ?

Kingsdowner said...

Hi Fred,
Yes, it's Sea Aster, although this particular plant didn't have the blue petals of other plants nearby.
I checked your Oare shots of Golden Samphire, by the way, to make sure they weren't Sea Aster.
The Dungeness plants are Red Hemp-nettle, Sheeps-Bit and Sea Campion, all still flowering into September.

Kingsdowner said...

Ah, now I see what you are hinting Fred. Sorry, I missed it.

Anonymous said...

The bee is a female... and quite worn too. The abdominal hair bands are white. Tjhis tends to support the suggestion that these pics are of Colletes halophilus (well known from the Kentish coast). I would expect C. hederae females to be very fresh in late September, with orangey hair bands.

Cheers, Stuart Roberts