Tuesday, April 05, 2016


My answer is that it depends on my mood. Right now I am a half-full kinda guy because spring makes me feel optimistic and spring 2016 has come to my little corner of the British Isles.

For starters, the bluebell woods are just reaching their full potential and the sight of this carpet of blue is enough to lift anyone's spirits, but if you add in the aroma, then you really do feel a harmony with nature that is very powerful.

When the buds on the cherry tree burst open to reveal some of the flowers, white and fresh as morning snow, I knew it would be just a matter of time before the honey bees arrived in large numbers to harvest the pollen. Now, just a day later the tree is alive with 'the voice of the garden' as somebody once described it, i.e. the hum of hundreds of bees. Magic!

Oh yes! The butterflies are coming out of hibernation too, but more of that later. The female worker bees have also found once again that the willow provides ample sustenance for the colony...

And then I came across this bee in the water. I don't know if it got there by mistake or had been attacked by something. It seemed very lethargic and quite unable to release itself from the surface tension. I did wonder for a second if it had a parasite of some kind attached, but on closer inspection saw that it was a teeny springtail. Did it arrive with the hitch-hiker, or did it climb aboard once the bee was in the pond?

It's only a natural light shot and so there isn't the same amount of detail as in a macro photo lit by flash.
I did rescue this bee by offering a stick for it to climb on to, which it did. I left it in the sunshine, drying out. Whilst I was beside the water, I saw this froggie just chillin'...

Or possibly sunbathing?

Under a nearby oak tree, I found a number of these bees. I imagine they are some kind of mason bee? Beyond that I am sorry to say I have no clue. I find bees exceptionally hard to differentiate. They probably have the same problem with humans?

Some of them seemed to be digging into the clay soil, presumably to nest? Again I could be wrong about that. I really need to gen-up on bees per se.

Changing the subject yet again, I discovered a couple of nice fungi recently...

Again, this is only a phone picci and so not great, but still, I think this is Sarcoscypha austriaca- or Scarlet Elfcup? It could also be S.coccinea as they are practically identical. The habitat seems a perfect fit; that being, on dead twigs in a damp, shady place.

Another shot, with the DSLR this time.

This was the other fungi I found...

I am no expert, or even amateur regarding fungi but I wonder if this might be Piptoporus betulinus? Commonly known as the birch polypore, or razor strop. As you may have guessed from the second part of the scientific name, it grows almost exclusively on birch.

A few of the critters I have uncovered now. Starting with this fab beetle...

It's one of the Carabidae beetles but there are around 350 species in the UK. I bet you are now thinking that I am just dodging having to identify this striking beetle? Well, actually no, I shall stick out my neck and plump for Poecilus cupreus. That may be a tad presumptuous as there are a few other Poecilus beetles that it could equally be. Then again, it might not even be Poecilus? I really think it is though! There...that should do it!

And another ground beetle...

Badister bullatus-A Ground Beetle
Quite a common but colourful ground beetle, often found in moss, as this one was. Something to do with the old saying about it not being the Beatles that gather no moss, but the Rolling Stones no doubt?

(Do I need to explain that this is a joke? Probably would be my guess)

Then came my first shieldbug of 2016, a turtle bug...

Shortly after, another shieldbug...

Palomena prasina- A Green Shieldbug

 A juvenile centipede was next...

A daffodil provided me with my first true bug of the year ...

Probably Lygus species.
And another first for 2016, a Grassbug...

The Butterflies? Ah yes...the butterflies...

Nothing that was in a good place to get a decent photograph but at this stage I am just happy to see them re-appearing. There's plenty of time for arty-farty shots.

And that's about it. I know this update has been about what I have seen. Just a selection of recent finds, rather than any in depth analysis, but I wanted to share and also demonstrate  just how fast things are moving now. I am also about to overhaul the blog and perhaps re-style it and so this will probably be the last update in this current format.

One last picture, a hoverfly sitting on a daffodil...

Postscript: If anyone finds my missing avatar photo from the comments on the right of this blog update, could they please hand it in to teacher. Thank-you.


  1. Wonderful photos and nice to see, still a little behind here, not one Butterfly and only a few bees, which I hope to ID better this year.the sun might be out but I'm still cold and windy here.
    Amanda xx

    1. Hello Amanda.
      Thanks so much for your lovely comment. Sorry to hear things are slower where you are. Good luck with your bees this year...;-)

  2. Hi JJ, your "fungus" is slime mould Enteridium lycoperdon. Great read as usual. I'm amazed how advanced you bluebells are compared with ours. It'll be another month at least I reckon before we have a display like yours. Will be interested to see your revamped blog!

    1. Hi Stevie. Good to hear from you ;-)
      I thank-you for this ID on my 'fungus'. I have to say that I hadn't considered slime mould, let alone your suggestion. ;-) You could well be correct though. The only think that has me doubting a little is that this was at least 100mm across and was not on dead wood but a growing tree, which I was pretty sure was birch.

  3. Brilliant blog as usual!
    Gorse scent does it for me. Wish I could 'bottle' it! :-)
    Our bluebells are also behind yours. Seen the odd one out, but no 'carpets' yet!
    How and where did you find the Turtle SB please? Have only found it the once and keen to do so again! Any pointers gratefully received! :-)

    1. Hi Maria. Thanks as always for your interest and supportive commenting. Oh yes..gorse is wonderful and reminds me of walks along the golf course as a child.
      Erm, I personally have found the I have more luck with Turtle SBs by looking under fallen bark or any bits of wood I find lying around. They do seem to secrete themselves away and somewhere concealed like that has been most sucessful for me. I think I have only ever seen one or two out in the open.

      Good luck anyhow.
      Ps: Sorry if this teply seems messy, doing it from my phone ��

    2. Thanks JJ! Been checking under reptile mats, but had no luck so far! Too many bloomin' ants under them! Lol! Got bitten on Sunday too!
      Will keep looking anyhoooo! Thank you!

    3. Awe, that's harsh. Ant bites can be nasty! I am sure you will eventually find one Maria and then once you do, probably loads ;-) Good luck.

  4. PS Half full 99% of the time btw! ;-)


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