Saturday, 10 July 2010

Garden and New Hythe 10th July

I've noticed recently that something has been eating the leaves of one of the Acers in our garden. This morning while standing on the patio clutching a mug of coffee I saw the culprit. It was a Leaf-cutter Bee (Megachile centuncularis) pictured below. I watched it land on a leaf and cut a semi circle off, deftly curling it up as it did so and then fly off with it.

These are fascinating little bees. They use the pieces of leaf to form a small cell where an egg will be deposited along with some pollen and nectar into a tunnel which will have been excavated into rotten wood usually. About a dozen or so cells are deposited in the same tunnel and then the tunnel is sealed with leaves and then abandoned. The eggs hatch as larvae and feed off the pollen and nectar, then they hibernate and pupate into bees the following year.
I managed to find where our bees were building their tunnels, they were excavating into a rotten branch in our old Cherry tree (see below). The Acer's not looking too good, but i'll happily put up with it.
Other winged delights in the garden this morning were a Chiffchaff which silently flitted around the trees and bushes, and three Goldfinches which tinkled merrily away as they had a breakfast of Sunflower hearts. A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker chose peanuts off the menu and surprisingly a Stock Dove down the bottom of the garden was a new tick. I checked the bird books because i'm aware of impostors in the Pigeon game but it seemed to be the genuine article.
Brown Hawkers and what i'm certain were Emperor Dragonflies criss crossed the garden, sometimes settling momentarily, but just the usual blue species represented the Damselflies although Carol has recently seen a Banded Demoiselle in the garden.

I got itchy feet this afternoon and headed off for an hour down New Hythe lakes. I parked at the waterworks entrance and immediately noticed the Cinnabar caterpillars pictured above on their favourite plant, Common Ragwort.
A bit further on a footbridge crosses the Millstream and this is home to a few Banded Demoiselles, a female of which is pictured below. Bizarrely, I noticed that the males looked their usual blue colour on one side of the bridge but when they flew to the other side they appeared green! Honestly it's true and no, I hadn't been on the Pimms.
I didn't venture further than the Bittern corner of Streamside lake for reasons that I won't bore you with. Suffice to say the exuberance of youth, the barking of dogs and the consequences of lager feature heavily. But never mind, I amused myself taking some more pictures of Red eyed Damselflies (below) which I confess are becoming a favourite of mine.

And finally............
I couldn't help firing off a couple of rounds at this juvenile Great Tit. It seemed to want me to, it did everything except smile.



Greenie said...

Phil ,
Whatever you put in the hip flask when you go out , let's have the recipe , I've never seen a green male Banded Demoiselle .
Re. the Red-eyed Damselfly , you will have to make another favourite , as the one you photographed today is it's cousin ,the Small Red-eyed Damselfly - Erythomma viridulum .

Phil said...

Greenie. According to Collins Complete Guide to Insects the male Banded Demoiselle has a metallic green or blue body. The light on each side of the bridge was very different so maybe that had something to do with it.
Re the Red Eye. I'm assuming you're referring to the blue at the sides of the S8 section of the abdomen which I think is one of the differences in which case I see where you're coming from. The legs are also paler but I think that may be the light. In a nutshell i'm with you and thank you for being my safety net.
As for the hip flask, the only recipe for carrying one of those is disaster!

Warren Baker said...

I like the look of that (small)Red Eyed damselfly Phil. I'm gonna have to find myself one!

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Phil.
Just caught up with your last few blogs.
looks lke you had a good visit to Dunge, although like you, it is always a great day there, you never know what you will see.
Also a good visit on Saturday to New Hythe.
I know what you mean about the male Banded Demoiselle's as they do have a metallic blue-green body, I have seen them myself.
Nice photo of the Cinnabar caterpillars.
I saw my first Beautiful Demoiselle Damselflies (male and female) last week in Cornwall.

ShySongbird said...

Those leaf-cutters are some clever/destructive little bs aren't they? :)

I have had a Stock Dove in the garden recently but it is so flighty that the least movement puts paid to any photo ops.

How my heart sinks when in a beautiful place I hear the unmistakeable sounds of the 'consequences of lager' resulting in my having to take another route. Another huge gripe is disused railway tracks being used (illegally) for off road motorbiking by individuals barely old enough to shave and with no regard for walkers or the peace and beauty of Nature! Then there are the said machines burnt out and dumped...I could go on...;)

Lovely photos again, not sure I have ever seen a Red-eyed Damselfly. The Great Tit is a beauty.

Sharon said...

Lovely photos Phil (especially the caterpillars!), love the fact you found where the bees were going with the leaves - how cool!