Archive | February 2019

Early spring warmth

Yesterday a male Anthophora plumipes resting on a sunlit Alexanders leaf at Beacon Lane. Generally speaking those bees prompted to emerge early by the unusual warmth are finding that flowers are not always as eager to follow suit. At Galley Hill males of Andrena thoracica were flying to Gorse flowers which they cannot readily access. I watched two very lethargic males of Andrena flavipes attempting to gain sustenance from Daisy flowers. The male Goat Willow on the hill has yet to flower, and if this is the present situation widely, then female mining bees will be unable to harvest Salix pollen at present.

A Carrion Crow landed on the cliff and appeared to be trying to catch some of the Andrenas.

Today at East Hill, even warmer, and a better supply of Alexanders in flower on the top. Andrena flavipes was the most numerous bee, but a female Andrena nigroaenea was also noted, such an attractive bee of early spring. Among the hoverflies was a bright Eupeodes luniger.

A flock of six Chaffinches heading east constituted the remainder of any landbird passage I have noted these recent days. Wintering Song thrushes are still about in the crops but Yellowhammers are taking up territories for the coming season.

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Note

Yesterday another day of sun and the unusual warm spell continuing. Despite this anomaly reports from eastern Greece are of snow and severe frosts. It is remarkable that the weather trend on the seaboard of Western Europe is often mirrored by its’ obverse along the eastern Mediterranean on any particular day. On the Aegean Islands Swallows and Martins were reported arriving in good weather two weeks ago, but now are faced with re-established winter conditions. The early strong warmth has now shifted to Britain.

A male Stonechat was very active on West Hill. The bird was wearing into spring plumage. A pair were reported from Galley Hill last week and there was another male bird at Covehurst then. It seems likely that some Stonechats have been returning from Continental wintering areas, encouraged by the stream of warm air running up from the Southwest of Europe. Spring passage is not usually noted here until March 6th or later.

The Mining bees Andrena thoracica and Andrena fulva were on the wing. Newly emerged males of A thoracica were flying to gorse flowers where they made futile attempts to access the closed flowers with their mandibles before heading off in search of nectar. The pea flowers of the Gorse need to be ‘sprung’ to open the corolla and this is the work of the heavier and stronger bees such as Bumbles.

No passage noted offshore during occasional visits.

Marina

Between 9 and 10 this morning a westerly passage recorded, Auks 1,055, Gannet 80, Red-throated diver 74, Kittiwake 53, Cormorant 635 and a single Great skua.

Marina note

An afternoon watch today. Spring-like with a cold SW breeze and sun. Auks were noticeable with flocks of Guillemots and Razorbills, 219 E and 12 W. Also three Gannets, six Scoter, twelve Common gulls and a Great black-backed gull passing eastwards.