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Tigers and bees

Cliff Mining Bee … active on the cliffs at the moment. Green Tiger Beetle active almost everywhere. Been seeing lots of them the last couple of weeks.



A few migrants were making themselves known on the coast this last week. Seeing the Lesser Whitethroat was particularly nice.


The Birds and the Bees

We all have our nemesis. Even the humble bee.

Thanks to information from friend Cieran I visited a little hub of bee activity this week. The nesting site of a colony of Hairy footed flower Bees was buzzing with activity including some of the Hairy foots cleptoparasites Common Mourning Bees.

Now, Hairy Footed Bees give you more or less what it says on the tin. Well at least the males do. The females however are a dark round miniature football of a bee without the hairy feet. Well, how many females do you know that want hairy feet? They do wear orange stockings though.

The Common Mourning Bees however have go-faster white spots down their chassis. These guys sit and wait, then creep into the burrows of the HFFB’s and lay their eggs. When the grubs hatch they eat the eggs of the HFFBs as well as the stored pollen put there for the offspring of the HFFBs to feed upon.

You would think with all this coming and going, creeping and subversive tactics it would be enough. No. There were hundreds if not thousands of Yellow-legged Mining Bees amid the colony. Again, you get what you pay for with these small andrena bees; bright yellow legs! Their nemesis is the sleek ‘wasp-like’ Painted Nomad Bee, sporting orange legs and antenna. Yet another bee with cuckoo like tendencies. The male’s green eyes are quite a sight. Not known in Norfolk until 2006 I found a singleton roaming around the colony looking for a partner in crime no doubt. He’d even chosen her a nice big flower to tempt her into a bit of cold outdoor mating. Buuurrrr!

If cold northerlies halt the birds in their tracks … there are always the bees to look at!



Tania recently asked me ‘What was the best wildlife moment of my life?’ I had to think carefully because I’ve had a few experiences over the years. However, I came down on the side of the first time I saw a Moose in Canada.

As kids we’ve all seen pictures in books of things that enthrall us. Well, these images get burned into young minds. Indelible records that never leave us. Images that perpetuate actions later in life. Seeing the Golden Oriole on a Brooke Bond Tea card. A front piece in a book of the ‘Mallard’ steam train. Rupert flying on the back of an eagle in the tale of ‘Rupert and the Diamond Leaf’. A drawing of a Moose in a book about North America was one of those images. It was very ‘Landseeresque’ in the style of Monarch of the Glen; a moose with full headgear. I wanted to see a Moose. I needed to see a Moose; it was firmly on my bucket list.

Planning the trip to Canada in 2012 I’d taken a look where they were densest in number. The biggest ‘bags’, after all they are still a ‘shootin an a fishin’ community out there, were around the Gaspe peninsula. I must say at this point that everyone I’d talked to about Moose said they were difficult to see; something that was reinforced by what I’d read, but hey you have to try don’t you?

The trip fitted in nicely with the close season so there was less likelihood of being shot and the weather in August was usually quite pleasant.

One year later and twenty miles along a rather bumpy slate, scree like track and a few miles walk into thick forest I’d taken a seat aside a small pool where the heat of the day would surely bring in a Moose. Several hot and quiet hours later the apparition of being appeared between the trees.  Silently and slowly, it came nearer. A big boy with full palmate antlers. So moved was I to see such an iconic creature I was almost scared to sound off the shutter on the camera. I remember welling up at seeing such a modern-day dinosaur.

What was your best wildlife moment?


Bald as a Coot

If Great Tit’s did Darth Vader…


Sitting Tight

Anyone that comes with me to Scillies knows we usually take a trip to the island of Tresco. So it was again this week. The draw was two or three Little Buntings that had been seen around a large sallow growing at the edge of the Abbey Pool.

We stood more than a short time waiting for the buntings to show. They called and we even saw one in flight but they wouldn’t come out onto the path to feed. As usual when waiting for something that is being one stage up from elusive our eyes began to wander. In among the pool edge vegetation was a smart Nearctic wader; a Pectoral Sandpiper.

It fed around the pool most of the time we were there and if you were cautious, quiet and still, it ventured close. Smart birds these. As with most high Arctic breeders not at all conscious of humans.

As for the Little Buntings, we had to wait a further day for a similarly elusive bird back on St Mary’s to give itself-up.


In the grass

How can anybody not love a grass snake?


Morning Martins

I wandered down to the local Sandmartin Colony the other day. They make entertaining and challenging photographic subjects. No netting on this part of the cliff so they are able to nest in the cliff-face as freely as they wish.


Showing Well

The Purple Heron at Burnham Overy showed well on today’s tour despite the rain.




If you look up Kookaburra in a bird book it’s filed away under Kingfishers and allies. It is indeed very kingfisher like. Outside there were about 6 or 7 birds that came to feed each evening on the insects that gathered on the newly mown lawns. Such an iconic Australian bird with an iconic Australian call. They don’t call it the laughing Kookaburra for nothing.

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June 2021


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