Well not exactly – at least going by the weather. I was going to do a post about beaches and sunshine, but we haven’t been to a beach yet this summer. We could have gone in the spring when we had lovely dry and sunny weather but we were in lock-down. Since mid-June we have been having a lot of grey, dull and wet days. So, what else says summer to me? Well I am back to my favourite subjects.
Bees of course! I took this photo in the drizzly rain this evening but what struck me about it was that it reminded me of when Winnie the Pooh had his head stuck in a honey pot!
Our bumbles did really well in the late spring when there was plenty of sunshine, but numbers seem to be down now as they cope with the wetter weather. Some appear pretty hardy, particularly these large garden bumblebees. I have watched them feed on the sage outside the kitchen window even during rain showers. Now the bramble flowers are out they are feeding on them as are the white tailed bees and carder bees.
Of course as well as bees, butterflies make me think of summer too.
And their caterpillars. Here the cinnabar caterpillars (which is actually a day flying moth) have eat their way to the end of the ragwort plant. So it may not be just humans that over-exploit their resources.
Inspired by this week’s Lens Artist Photo Challenge – Summer
Is it really time for Six on Saturday already? Despite everything, the week flies by. Spring is well under way. I do love this time of year. It has been exceptionally warm and sunny (for the west of Ireland at least), but we won’t complain. So here is this week’s six.
1. Ragged jack kale self seeds its self freely around the garden and at this time of year the flowers are valuable food source for pollinators – usually bumblebees and hoverflies but I have also had a solitary honey bee.
2. Common carder bee – this one feeding on comfrey that is now flowering outside as well as in the greenhouse.
3. Autumn olive – the flowers smell a little of citrus and are popular with bumblebees too.
4. Crab apples. There is the one I showed last week. It is at it’s best now and the scent is heavenly. I have another crab which is the red leafed variety. The flowers are pink and not too plentiful – in fact it’s hard to see them against the leaves. The fruits are tiny. Still I like the leaf colour, as it adds contrast to the mainly green leaves of the other trees in the garden.
5. American Hawthorn is also in flower. It usually flowers a bit earlier than our native hawthorn.
6. Red campion, I grew these from native seed collected at Raheens wood and they are doing well at the base of a hedge.
We had a glorious sunny day today, warm too – but temperatures are to drop back tomorrow. Still there is plenty to keep us occupied in the garden. I hope you all have a lovely Easter.
June Berry – always the first to flower. Delicate blossoms perfect against the blue sky.
2. Can you spot the Grey mining bee (know in UK as the Ashy mining bee) in the first photo? I posted about them in an earlier post this week, but the sun brought even more out today. I counted about 18. The build their nests in soil (you can see the little volcanoes of soil). A very pretty bee.
3. There are more and more queen bumblebees around too – here a White tailed bumblebee.
4. Crab apple not far off being in bloom.
5. Dandelions on the lawn – a pollinators friend.
6. Rosemary in flower. The bush has got rather straggly. I may cut it back once it has finished flowering.
Today finds us in our first day of full lock-down here in Ireland. We were in partial lock-down before this but now it is just out for shopping and exercise (and no more than 2km from your house for the later).Thankfully we are lucky to have a big garden for the children to play. And we have had sunshine! That means the crocuses are open!
1 Crocus display
2. The crocus have attracted a couple of early garden bumblebees – I am so happy to see the bees back. A sure sign of spring.
3. Tulips are open – only a couple so far.
4. I have one small patch of wild wood anemone under one of the hedgerows. I love this flower, so delicate.
5. On the heather another bee – this time a buff-tailed bumble. If you look closely you can see little mites on her. These don’t do her any harm, they are found in her hibernating nest and keep the place clean!
We have had a few visitors this week in the garden. First the hawthorn shield bug. This I think is it’s final instar before it becomes a full adult.
Hawthorn shieldbug, final instar
The second visitor was a red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidararius). I very occasionally get red-tailed bees in my garden, though I see them elsewhere in Mayo. For some reason they don’t seem to like my garden. This chap is a rather worn and weathered male.
Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidararius)
And yes the pumpkins are getting to pumpkin size. My children are already claiming theirs for Halloween! They have five to choose from. I have one decent sized squash and one little one.
We have plenty of autumn raspberries this year. If the weather stays mild we should be able to continue harvesting for a couple of weeks yet.
I just wanted to share this photo, I did mean to take the carder bee, but the hoverfly popped in too! Comfrey is still flowering and the bees love it.
Comfrey with bumble and hoverfly
I know I have shown this poppy before. It is always popular with pollinators. Here a hoverfly and a solitary bee are sharing the same flower. Pollinator season is nearly over so I have to get my fill in!
Last weekend, we had the opportunity to visit County Clare for the annual bee recorders event held by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. This is the second such event I have attended and it is wonderful to learn more about our amazing bees as well as meet like-minded individuals who are happy to run across a meadow chasing a bee with a net! This is the bee we were searching for. The Shrill carder bee, Ireland’s second rarest bee. It’s stronghold is County Clare, probably due in part to the flora rich habitats.
Shrill carder bee (Bombus sylvarum)
I have not been to County Clare for many years. It is renowned for it’s spring flowers but it’s late summer flowers are just as amazing and brilliant for pollinators.
Exposed limestone pavement and wild flowers
This area of Clare, where we spent our time, is known as the Burren. The word comes from an Irish word “Boíreann” meaning a rocky place, and it certainly is that. It is a limestone karst region, with much exposed limestone pavement but also flora rich calcareous grasslands.
There are so many beautiful meadows. Many like above photograph are dominated at this time of year with devils-bit scabious. But others like the one below are packed with knapweed and hawksbit.