I have been hearing about RSPB Minsmere and its popular Pantaloon Bees on various birding news feeds over the last week and wondered what they were. mmm... I thought... we have something similar with with big hairy pollen collecting legs that I call Hairy Legged Mining Bee...
Turns out that they are one and the same - a cute little bee called Dasypoda hirtirpes. Just one day later Annie Jackson discovered a couple feeding on a traditional patch of Bristly Ox Togue just as you go into our adventure playground and opposite the big sandbank that they use to make their solitary nest burrows.
You can clearly see the orangey hairs on the lower legs that they use to collect pollen!
I have now made up a sign at the appropriate spot to help you find them too!
Also present on this patch of nectar rich flowers was a stunning hoverfly that really does do its best to look like a wasp!
and it goes by the cool name of Chrysotoxum veralli
As is normal this time of year there are a few beasties out there that like a little bit of human blood to satisfy their hunger pangs. It is part and parcel of being on the marsh but as well as the usual variety of Mosquitos we also have wonderfully stripy eyed Clegs and green spotty eyed and pied winged Deer Flies that will quite persistantly follow you around. Only the females will be after your blood though as the males are pollen collectors!
The Notch Horned Cleg - Maematopota pluvialis taken by and feeding on Nick Smith
And the same species by Lawrence Rogers.
The very attractive but tenacious Chrysops relictus - Ken Bentley
Thankfully most of the larger Horseflies tend to leave us alone and the common species at Rainham appears to be Tabanus autumnalis...
Just look at those eyes! Thankfully a male (eyes touching!)
However today we added a new species of Horsefly to the reserve list when a young lad called Matthew Minney arrived at reception with his mum to head out and do some pond dipping and suddenly pointed at the window and told everybody that there was an interesting fly to be seen. A quick look and he pronounced that it was definitely a Horsefly. I peered over and there it was with a largely orange body and green shiny eyes!
Five minutes later and she was in the pot and the six year old budding entomologist had indeed found something good! A Bright Horsefly Hymomitre distinguenda - a species I had only seen previously at Rutland Water.
Matthew and his family went on to have a great afternoon out on the reserve and I suspect that we may be seeing them for the Insect Day activities this coming Saturday!
oh - and some birds from today too!
Thursday 28th July 2016
• RSPB Rainham Marshes: Greenshank, Dunlin, 4 Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher (FSi) 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, Green Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, 26 Little Egret, ad f Marsh Harrier, 2 Kestrel, 2 Bearded Tit, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Yellow-Wagtail, 20 sand Martin, 4 House Martin, 15 Swallow, 5 Swift. 8 Grey Heron, Hobby
Apologies to April and Joslyn Berry for taking a while to post this but a few weeks ago I bumped into this lovely mum and daughter and young Joslyn was enthusiastically telling me about the amazing (and very simple) things she had done in her garden to create a wonderful variety of homes for the amazing wildlife she found there.
And so here are some shots of the wild space she has developed. Her smile says it all I think!
Butler sinks are fabulous! Don't throw them away!
A quality logpile...
She had a great day and Bill Stallard one of my Volunteers showed her all the birds out on the pools!
So if you and your kids have created an amazing wildlife refuge in your garden send me some images and I shall post them on here!