2016 for me has got off to a slow start, it seemed that every time I went out to look for wildlife, the weather was against me, cold and damp or windy. Now at the end of March and into April things are on the up, I am seeing spring flowers Bees and Butterflies the first bird migrants are arriving. ( click on pictures to enlarge )
Southern Cuckoo Bumblebee Bombus vestalis
A cuckoo bumblebee, like the bird it is named after, lays its eggs in another bumblebee’s nest and leaves the workers of that nest to rear the young. Of course the eggs she lays are either females or males (there are no queens). The cuckoo females emerge from hibernation in late spring or early summer, much later than ordinary bumblebee queens. So by the time the cuckoo females have emerged the bumblebee queens will have already established their nests. Cuckoo bumblebees usually have the same pattern of hair colour as the bumblebees’ nests they lay in. www.bumblebee.org/cuckoo.htm
More bee species are on the wing now the milder weather is here
Bumblebees sometimes have tiny mites clinging to them, these for the most part, are just hitching a ride from flower to nest, as they feed on detritus in Bumblebee nests and not on the Bumblebees.
Other flying insects that look like small Bumblebees are Bee flies, whose larvae are parasites of eggs and larvae of solitary bees.
There are 2 species of Bee-fly in our area the Dotted Bee-fly and the Dark edged Bee-fly.
Chiffchaff warblers are singing now and along with Blackcaps are some of the first migrants to arrive in the spring (some Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps do now, overwinter here in the UK).
The first Reptile/Amphibian species have been seen on the former Airfield.
Common Toads and Common Lizards.
4 individual Common Toads
Some Butterflies on the wing now are Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell.
More wild flowers and wildlife around at the moment
The first Harlequin Ladybird of the season.
Ramsoms our commonest and only native broad-leaved Garlic
The first of our 6 Orchid species is now in bloom
The number of Bumblebee species around at the moment is 4, and 1 Cuckoo Bumblebee.
Some solitary bee species that can be seen are Red Mason bees and Hairy-footed bees
Three more species of Butterfly on the wing are Red Admiral, Speckled wood, Orange Tip, and Green-veined White.
More lizards can be seen now basking on exposed logs/timber and stone/concrete, and also I have seen the first Grass Snake of the season.
The second of our Orchids is coming into flower now with its tiny green flowers.
The Common Twayblade
24 Spot Ladybird at 2mm must be one of the smallest Ladybirds
Only the male has this Scorpion-like tail which is in fact its reproductive organs and is completely harmless.
Stinging hairs on Stinging Nettle.
I missed the main Orchids this year apart from 4 Pyramidal Orchids on the Airfield.
Frances Jordan managed to photograph the Southern Marsh Orchid
Some close up pictures of Butterflies of Lympne (click on image to enlarge)
Here are some pictures taken by Frances Jordan.
Great picture of a Violet Ground Beetle attacking a Slug.
The nest picture from Frances was of the German Wasp (pictures below)
Some close up pictures of the compound eye of the Migrant Hawker
Autumn has arrived just before the first frost I captured these images, Ragwort is hanging on providing a late nectar and pollen source for insects as are other yellow flowering plants like Toad flax and Bristly Ox Tongue.
A pair of Stone Chats (male on left) have been seen over the last few weeks on the former Lympne Airfield.
While looking for late Butterflies and other insects on the Ivy flowers saw hunting European Hornets capture and dismember Honey bees.
Most of the Lizards are now hibernating so I got lucky and spotted this late individual getting a last minute warm up in the sun.
The last of the migrating Warblers have passed through with some like this Chiffchaff may overwinter here.