Saturday, 6 April 2019

Apres le deluge

We have just endured a spell of rather unpleasant weather: rain (needed); wind (bearable) and cold (bleeding). So when I ventured out today I felt it was about as pointless as the Pope buying a condom. But nothing ventured... I set off firmly grasping a kneeling mat and pom-pomming to myself a tune which soon became irritating. At first I couldn't recall what it was, but then remembered it was the lovely Pastoral Dance from 'Nell Gwyn' by Edward German...but not lovely the way I was butchering it! 

The weather still looked unreliable and so I only risked venturing as far as the local (Stefen Hill) pocket park.  It soon became clear that the kneeling mat was unnecessary and for a quarter of an hour or so I enjoyed pleasant sunshine. The sun was also being appreciated by Red-tailed Bumblebees, Bombus lapidarius, several females of which were seen. It is a distinctive, rather large and common species.
Red-tailed Bumblebee at Stefen Hill Pocket Park. 6 April, 2019

In some cases they were in the grass, perhaps investigating potential nesting sites. The colonies may eventually contain as many as 300 workers and they will store pollen rather than nectar for their brood.

New growth was to be seen on virtually all plants and I am hoping that insects will soon begin to exploit it, nibbling, mining and galling according to needs. The old leaves of bramble bore the mines from last year of Stigmella aurella.

This leaf mine is the work of 'Stigmella aurella'. I will go no further
 than that. Stefen Hill Pocket Park. 6 April, 2019

This tiny moth appears to have no common name (although it is sometimes referred to as the Golden Pigmy) and this is probably down to the fact that, strictly speaking, it is an aggregate of several very similar species, fiendishly difficult to separate. The species, sensu lato, is very common everywhere and familiar to anyone who walks in the countryside or even, as in this case, in the local park. So common is it that several mines may occur on the same leaf, with three being obvious in the picture below.
The ubiquitous nature of this 'species' can be judged by the  numerous
 mines borne by bramble leaves. 6 April, 2019

As is usually the case, the identification of several species found will be a microscope job, so I may have to miss 'Footballers Wives Bake Off On Ice'. The sacrifices we entomologists are forced to make!

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