Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Newbourne Springs, Suffolk

Sunday 10th June 2012, 2-4pm
A walk around Newbourne Springs

Weather, overcast after a sunny start to the day

Bird highlights:
Song thrush, blackcap, nightingale -  all in full song
Many chiff-chaffs calling
A family party of blue tits, youngsters being fed
Great-spotted woodpecker calling

The meadow area was ungrazed and awash with Ragged Robin in full flower.  I have never seen such a good display before - full of bees.  At least one Common-spotted Orchid in bloom, probably a lot more not visible from the path. 

Tree bumble, B hypnorum, seen on newly opened bramble flowers.

New bees in the garden

My house in Swaffham has cavity walls, and when I had a new bathroon suite installed a couple of years ago an overflow pipe was removed, leaving a small hole allowing access to the cavity.  Last year it was used as a nesting site by a pair of blue tits, but this year it has been taken over by the hole nesting Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum.  These bees have been very active, collecting pollen in the garden and taking it back to the nest.  On warm days one or two bees station themselves at the entrance to the hole fanning their wings to increase ventilation.

Bombus hypnorum

B hypnorum was first reported in the UK in 2001, and has now established itself over most of the country.  They are distinctive little bees, with white tails and a rusty brown thorax.  They regularly form colonies above the ground, using various holes in trees, buildings, and often use bird nest boxes.  An useful information sheet can be found here:

It is the first time I have seen these bees in Swaffham, but have since also identified them down in Suffolk.