Sunday, 30 March 2014

Vespa vulgaris awakes and a couple more early season spiders.

Vespa vulgaris Carlton, Nottinghamshire. 30th March 2014

Yesterday was a particularly nice day here in Nottinghamshire and would have been perfect for a spring walk.  Unfortunately I was on the second day of a two day trip to Birmingham Think Tank museum with 100 pupils from school.  This involves a "night at the museum" sleeping around the exhibits.  Fun for the kids but after getting into school at 7.00 am on Friday and still dealing with pupils at 01.00 am Saturday, the fun bit for me was wearing thin. However it's now Sunday and the weather although still warm is a little cloudy with only brief spells of hazy sunshine. Too knackered to go out so I pottered around in the garden.  A peak at the bee log showed no signs of emerging Bees but a fine Queen of Vespa vulgaris the common wasp.  My log has a large patch of working made by the lesser stag beetle and it was from one of these holes that the wasp was emerging.  A couple of minutes sunning itself then it was away.  Also noted on the house wall was a pretty little Thomosid spider about 3mm in size, sunning itself on the warming mortar. 

Carlton Notts, 30th March 2014. 
I wouldn't like to put a name to it as colour is not indicative of species and I didn't fancy dunking it in alcohol in order to check it to species.  A picture is included, any arachnid experts out there wish to make a more educated guess then me please feel free to let me know what you think it is.  I also attach another spider photograph this time of a male Alopecosa barbipes, a good looking spider encountered on Budby Heath a couple of weeks ago. Very pretty!

Alopecosa barbipes Budby Heath March 2014. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Budby Heath in the Spring, Bees, and Beetles

Andrena clarkella Budby Heath 16th March 2014 
Last couple of weekends have been reasonable in terms of weather, hence a couple of early in the year trips onto Budby Heath, the only National Nature Reserve here in Nottinghamshire. One of the joys of Budby in the spring is the presence of the solitary bee Andrena clarkella. This is an insect that I often have difficulty in photographing, they have the habit of landing and quickly disappearing into its concealed burrow.  However this obliging female spent a couple of minutes sitting and warming itself on a wooden post.

Oil Beetle, Meloe proscabaeus, Budby Heath 16th March 2014
The main reason for the trip was to look for early season Oil Beetles. I'd had a report this year that they were out in the first week of March this year.  We weren't disappointed either with good numbers perambulating at their usual site and feeding on the grass. It was interesting to note that the males far outnumber the females so far this year, however a healthy number of females were on show this Sunday and already into the swing of mating (see photograph). I must admit that I have great difficulty photographing black beetles, a check on technique and methods for photographing black objects is needed here I think. Finally the Tiger Beetles were also out, though as yet in very small numbers. Still another lovely site this time of the year.   I've had Tiger beetle on the heath every month from March to October. 
Tiger Beetle, Cicindela campestris, Budby Heath 16th March 2014


Saturday, 8 March 2014

Spring has arrived - spiders are out on the house wall.

Nursery Web Spider = Carlton Nottinghamshire 8th March 2014 
At last a little warmth in the air.  Compared to last winter 2013/2014 winter was pretty mild.  We also missed most of the rain that fell on the southern half of the UK here in Nottinghamshire. However still good to be able to get out in the back garden and see something. This morning I had male Bulfinch and female blackcap in the garden at once. Not bad for a very small garden here in suburban Notts..  Camera also made an appearance as a couple of nice spiders on the house wall taking in the early march rays.  Photographs attached of the jumping spider Salticus scenicus and of a Nursery Web Spider, Pisaura mirabilis. Both are common spiders in my garden but it's difficult not to spend a few minutes enjoying their presence.   More regular posts on the way now that the invertebrates are out and about once more.  

Jumping Spider Salticus scenicus . Carlton Nottinghamshire 8th March 2014