Getting a buzz from nature
Taking a break from the birds, today was instead spent searching for the smaller inhabitants of the natural world; in particular the pollinators, tiny creatures who play a crucial role in our ecosystems.
Plants use their colourful floral displays and scents to attract insects such as bees and flies to feed on the nectar concealed within their flower heads. In doing so the insects inevitably brush past the parts of the flower containing pollen, which is then stuck to the insects’ bodies and transported to another flower as the insect moves on to the next flower.
This is a solitary bee, I think it may be a leafcutter. It has gathered pollen under it’s abdomen and on it’s rear legs.
The mason bee below, also collects pollen in a similar way. This bee is grooming the pollen from it’s antennae to distribute it down onto the legs and lower body.
This very delicate bee, with a vivid striped abdomen is a honeybee. You can see the stamens of the plant are in contact with the bee as she feeds, brushing off grains of pollen in the process.
This bee with a distinctive ginger back is a tree bumblebee. She is just beginning to build up her own white pollen baskets.
Another bee with very neat pollen baskets, black this time. This is either a white or buff tailed bumblebee but as the tail is hidden I can’t be sure which!
Aside from the bees there were also numerous hoverflies darting between the blooms in a variety of types and sizes. Some are excellent mimics, resembling bumblebees, such as this hairy, rounded individual with a yellow/orange tail and heavily dusted with pollen.
Here is what would appear to be the same species on a pink daisy.
Hoverfly in daisies
Other types of hoverfly were much more streamlined, with brightly coloured, bold markings used to deter predators. These look to me like Migrant Hoverflies, but with over 280 species, they can be very tricky to identify specifically.
Smaller, delicate bodied hoverflies
One way to determine a hoverfly from a bee is that the hoverfly has large rounded eyes, unlike the more elongated eyes of the bee family.
Here is another species of hoverfly with a buff colouration, feeding on the pink daisies which seemed to be a particular favourite among many of the insects.
— All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2018 © http://www.greyfeatherphotography.com
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