|Local canal (taken in the summertime)|
Despite the warm weather and sunshine, my initial impression was that insects unfortunately were still very thin on the ground, with only a small number of flies and gnats whizzing around. I was happy to instead enjoy the sounds of birdsong and to check what wildflowers were coming into bloom - not that long ago I was content to admire but be happily ignorant to what many (read most!) of our wildflower species were, however a few years ago, much as with birdsong, I decided I was unhappily ignorant, and have since made far more effort to try and learn to correctly identify more of our wildflowers. This has had the added bonus of in turn learning a lot more about which insects are attracted to which types of plants.
Early spring wildflowers such as Lesser Celandine and Coltsfoot were coming into bloom. The few gorse plants along the walk looked straggly but were in flower. Ivy plants were still bearing some fruits, though coming to the end of their season now - their attractive berries are poisonous to humans, but enjoyed by many birds including Blackbirds and other thrushes. Tucked away amongst moss-covered fallen and cut wood were vibrantly coloured and aptly named Scarlet Elf Cups.
|Scarlet Elf cup|
A pair of Canada Geese kept a watchful eye as I walked past. Birdsong was wonderfully apparent with Robins, Wrens, Dunnocks and Chaffinches all in full song. Another song which I couldn't place initially turned out to be that of a Treecreeper, I watched as the tiny mouse-like bird circled a tree truck high up on the opposite side of the canal. Other birds heard included Magpies with their distinct 'machine-gun rattle' calls, and Jays with their fantastically indiscreet squawks and the wild 'mewing' of a Buzzard hunting overhead.
|Ivy berries (poisonous to us but enjoyed by many birds)|
|Butterfly chrysalis (Large White?)|
All of our common white butterflies (such as Small, Large, Green-veined and Orange-tip) hibernate through the winter in their chrysalis stage. In this state they are particularly vulnerable to being predated - hopefully this one will avoid the attentions of predators for a few more weeks despite not being particularly well hidden or camouflaged!
Close by on one of the arboretum's many azaleas, I could hear the loud buzzing that could only mean one thing - a bumble bee! Sadly she was not one to hang about and I didn't manage to take her photo, or even have chance to identify what type. Pleased to have at least seen a bumble bee, I started making my way back towards the car park. Just as I was approaching the exit I heard another loud buzzing near the ground amongst some Russian Snowdrops (Puschkinia) and I spotted my first honey bee of the year, and fortunately did manage to take a handful of photos of her. A lovely way to finish off the afternoon, and a good sign of all the great things soon to come in the long-awaited spring months...
|European Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera)|