Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Where are the bees?

Spring birding is the best. All the birds look like they are dressed up going out to a party. A couple of trips recently had some cracking birds even if there are no major rarities on the list.

Firstly up to the North Norfolk coast with David. I glimpsed a Ring Ouzel at Burnham Overy Dunes but we couldn't find any others, but there were lots of Wheatears and a Whinchat, some nice waders around too - Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Knot, Grey Plover, Barwit. then Titchwell and some Velvet Scoters mid-range from the beach, some Sanderling, a Little Tern and a couple of Med Gulls, Ruff, Turnstone, three Marsh Harriers doing the talon-grappling thing and a close-up male Whinchat. A nice day with some sunshine and excellent company

Yesterday I popped down to Rainham Marsh. A fantastic selection of waders on the Target Pools (3 Wood Sandpiper all sparkling elegance, a Greenshank, another Turnstone - what fantastic birds they are in spring -  2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, and a Common Sandpiper). A couple of small parties of Whimbrel too picking their way through the grass. Then from the riverside path a female Ring Ouzel seen well but distantly in the middle of the reserve (sorry David).

On both occasions I was keeping an eye out for bumble bees, and there were very few. Perhaps I'm being premature and we wouldn't expect to see anything but a few queens, but I fear the cold spell may have really set them back.

I'm not sure if problems now correct themselves later. Dave Goulson in his book "A Sting in The Tail" says 50% of bee nests fail every two weeks, so at the end of summer its a case of many queen bees being produced from a few nests. If lots of bee nests fail now, does that mean the other bees have an easy ride as there is lots of food for them? Or is there another limiting factor? Do they get predated more than they would otherwise? I've no idea, but I am a bit concerned how the rest of summer is going to pan out for these splendid creatures.

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