Sunday, 29 July 2012

Some interesting beasties

Happy Summer Everyone! What a great week or so of weather we have had eh?!

From my reckoning, all this sun at last seems to be good for just about everything. The bugs were up and a-buzzing, including lots of bees around London. Good for all the birds too as I suspect their food is much easier to come by!

  So, with the forecast suggesting that our time in full sun is over for the time being, I have some photographic treats to share from a quick jaunt in the Wetlands Centre this morning.

Todays theme is : "Bugs but not bees." No offense to my bee friends, but my blog has almost turned into a hive with the number of bee snaps recently! So something a little different to follow....

Anyone who has been to the wetland centre will know that there is a great flower bed that greats you as you walk over from the carpark. This has been a favorite place of mine with my recent interest in bees as it is always replete with pollinators. Whilst snapping away, a bug caught my eye as it didnt quite match any of the bee patterns that I have been learning over the past few weeks. "Ho hum" thinks I, and I only just managed to snap a photo of it before it flew away. This bug was no bee. A real master of disguise with its Carder-bee-esque honey colours fur, tipped with a Buff-tailed rear, this fellow is in fact a hoverfly! Here is another pic i found on the web for an ID 

I felt quite pleased with myself after that spot :) But this morning was going to get even better. Whilst wandering towards the wader scrape hide, I caught a glimpse of colour flitting around in the grasses. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by 6 spot Burnets - A stunning day flying moth. Needless to say, I was happy to sit snapping away for quite some time! 

Here is some info about these little beasties....

And finally.... I have been rabbiting on recently about the BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT. This is a big project throughout the UK at the moment trying to encourage people to spend 15mins spotting butterflies. Is there any excuse to not be able to find such a tiny piece of time free to pop out and watch these great creatures?! If you haven't already, get involved!!!

Here are two snaps I took for ID purposes during the 3rd 15 minute count that I have done so far! Today's totals: 4 meadow brown and 3 Gatekeeper (2 little white eyes in the black wing spot)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


ALL IMAGES © William Bermingham 2012

Buff tailed bumblebee


Finally I have emerged from the dark, vitamin D deficient cacoon of revision.... but sadly no snazzy wings to fly about in the sun. This post aims to cover a fair bit of ground as myself and Mary-Loo (my camera) have been out and about a few times over the past week in both the London Wetland Centre and in the Oxfordshire countryside. 

Not only are there going to be a whole bunch of photos, but there will also be an IMPORTANT MESSAGE about *UK Butterflies* about half way through!

Red tailed bumblebee

Lets start with some photos from the WWT London Wetland Centre. This was my first outing with my camera after exams and the weather even managed to work up some sunshine for me. I wanted to set out with a purpose in hand and so I set myself the task of trying to spot as many types of bumble bee as possible and try my best to ID them. For an extra bonus, there will also be a factoid for each bee type I managed to snap!

 Unlike some of my previous visits recently, where bee numbers had seemed a bit low to my amateur eyes, this time the flower beds were positively 'a-buzz'. The WWT centre has some great wildflower areas which are well worth a look :)

Buff tailed bumblebee

So here are some shots working my way through the wildflower beds. There were LOADS of buff tailed bumbles about. These a pretty big as bumble bees go. DID YOU KNOW? that buff tailed bumble bees are a major domesticated bee breed used for polination? Because of their widespread use, they are also banned from Oz incase they 'go native!' (

Honey bee? I'm not good with the little bees!

 Help! Anyone with a good, simple to use source for ID-ing little bees I would be very grateful :)

Carder bee

 Did you know? 'Carding' is a method of wool preparation and the bees get their name from the practise of scraping hairs from plant stems. (Certainly this applies to the wool carder bee - there is even a video online. I cant actually find somewhere which says that the common carder does it too) (

I think this is a white tailed bumblebee, but it might be another buff?

Did you know? Buuf and white tailed bumblebees are NECTAR NINJAS.....  if a flower is too long for them to get the yummy nectar from within, they will nibble a little hole further down to gain access to their tasty treat! (

Another red tailed bumble I think :)

So just to finish, here are 3 more bumbles I snapped.... scroll down for an IMPORTANT BUTTERFLY ANNOUNCEMENT

Carder bee?

Carder bee


Few bugs are able to get such a positive reaction of wonderment from humanity like a butterfly. Their colours, patterns and graceful fluttering through the air has a magical effect on us all. BUT like all of us, they are having to deal with climate change. To help keep tabs on all our lovely butterflies, the BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT is underway! 

IT IS SO EASY TO GET INVOLVED! All you need is 15mins set aside to be outside spotting butterflies. Not a very big ask in the sceme of things eh?!

You can find details here:

Here are some photos from my big butterfly count that I did in the countryside near Oxford. I saw a whole host of meadow browns as well as one large skipper and a marbled white. The big butterfly count website has a great spotters guide to help make the IDs!

Meadow Brown

 Marbled white

Just to wrap up, a few other 'misc' photos from the past few days. I hope you have enjoyed todays blog post. Do post if you have any comments/identifications! Also, if anyone wants to set me a photographic challenge for my next WWT centre visit, feel free! 

Untill next time...

 *Hover hover*

 A bug. Nice snap though!

Can anyone ID this bee?

ALL IMAGES © William Bermingham 2012