31st: Went to see if the recent appearance of larger nomad bees was reflected at the Cliffs at Ensay Burn mouth. As usual it took time but eventually 1 appeared. It was hanging around the burrows of the large mining bees there which I think are Chocolate Mining Bees.
Nomad Bees are like the Honeyguides of the orient. Honeyguides feed on wild honey bees which the locals collect. Nomad Bees lay their eggs in the nest cells of other bees especially mining bees. Some are closely associated, Fabricius’s Nomad Bee lays eggs in the cells of Gwynne’s Mining Bee. Little Nomad Bee predates on one of the mini-miners, etc.
Identifying Nomad Bees to the species level should give an indication of what other bes are in the area.
I’m pretty sure this is Marsham’s Nomad Bee (a first for me but there is one record from Mull at Tiroran House, nr, Ardmeanach in 2016 and an unconfirmed record from Langamull this month).
Its host is Chocolate Mining Bee which fits my theory about the large bees at this site which I first mistook for Clarke’s Mining Bee.
Eristalinus aeneus is a coastal hoverfly species and last year it came to our garden. The book talks about the larvae living in rotten seaweed and it is possible that it was attracted to the seaweed manure I make. Today it was hovering around a stinky tidal pool so I don’t think I need to check that it isn’t the similar sepulchralis.
Checked the Treshnish wood for known Broad-leaved Helleborines, apart from the one beside the farm road, there was only one [Note to self: by the runnel]. Also no sign of the Bird’s-nest Orchid emerging.
30th: Corncrake heard by Leena and guests in afternoon. Barn Owl seen leaving Black Park owl box in the morning.
The others if correct are new for Mull
First Golden-ringed Dragonfly and Blue-tailed Damselfly of the year.
29th: A fun bee day. Went back to get better shots of the Blood Bee. It was easy to find but very difficult to photograph as it never stay put. I did a bit more research and there are only 3 Blood Bees species that have been recorded in Scotland: Geoffroy’s Blood Bee, Box-headed Blood Bee and Furry-bellied Blood Bee. NBN Atlas has a record of Bare-saddled Blood Bee at Croig but I need to check that again to see if it has been confirmed because it doesn’t fit with BWARS and my book. Geoffroy’s Blood Bee has been recorded in Oban and is the most common as far as I can see.
This one does have a square shaped head so perhaps it is Box-headed
Whilst at the Ensay Burn waterfall I was trying to compare sizes of the Blood Bee with Fabricius’ Nomad Bee also present.
I think the blood Bee was a little smaller but then I saw an extremely small similar looking nomad bee which I didn’t manage to photograph but which I am sure must be Little Nomad Bee. Little Nomad Bee has been recorded to north of Oban.
Another new hoverfly for me. I think it is Microdon analis which is Nationally Scarce. It is know to occur on Mull but it the first rare hoverfly I’ve seen although almost all my records are from our garden. All the three species in this family are good finds. M. devius is Near Threatened but only found in south England; M. myrmicae/mutabilis (the adults of this species cannot be separated but mutabilis has only been recorded at two sites in the UK and and one of those is near Loch Frisa) but I’m sure it isn’t one of those. They all lay their eggs in ant nests and are closely associated with that habitat. They are supposed to be hard to find but I photographed 4 whilst looking for bees
Grey or Ashy Mining Bee came to our Hawthorn but didn’t rest.
28th: 1 Spotted Flycatcher in Treshnish wood (my first of the year). Saw a female Goosander again flying north along Ensay Burn at cattlegrid bridge.
Saw what was probably a Common Darter at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse which would be my first of the year. Also first Sericomyia silentis and Marmalade Fly of the year.
Found 2 more Globeflowers to the east of the burn.
27th: 1 House Martin at cliffs to west of boathouse, flushed a female Gossander from Ensay Burn in the wood below the waterfall. I think it must be on eggs. Our neighbour told me about some ducks on the burn higher up below the next waterfall a few years back and although I suspected Goosanders I couldn’t find them. Found a pipit nest with chicks to west of boathouse. I think it was a Rock Pipit. Pair of Grey Wagtails at Ensay Burn mouth. I saw what I thought was 2 up by the bridge the other day but I wasn’t sure of the first bird.
Oystercatcher nest with eggs to east of boathouse.
Several mining bees at same site (possibly Gwynne’s)
At waterfall, what I at first thought might be a nomad bee but I’m not even sure it is a bee.
At same site, Fabricius’ Nomad bee, Clarke’s Mining Bee burrowing and what I think is probably Gwynne’s Mining Bee also burrowing. At Thyme Broomrape cliff same 5 yellow-banded black wasp as previous visits possibly Ancistrocerus oviventris.
Narrow-leaved Helleborine [notes to self]: 1 more flowering plant along the farm road beside the concrete ramp. This one emerges sporadically so I suspect that it is getting eaten early. All the other plants emerge almost every year. So that is at least 4 flowering plants at Treshnish this year.
A quick check of the nearby site has 1 vegetative plant at the southern site (but I didn’t search properly as this has many Broad-leaved Helleborine which are just emerging. The main site under oaks had 1 flowering (browsed) and 8 vegetative. I didn’t search the northernmost site. If this site was protected from stock I am sure it would have hundreds of both species. When cattle were in this field it was less worrying as fallen trees would often restrict their access and cows graze differently anyway. I hope that in a hundred years time we will look back at unprotected woodland with shock, even more so since the public pay for it. I blame the government and us for not holding them to account.
26th: Corncrake calling at midnight at Haunn.
25th: Corncrake calling at Haunn (Trevor Evans).
24th: Corncrake calling at Haunn (Trevor Evans).
1 Mealy Redpoll at Treshnish House.
23rd: Chiffchaff and 4 Wood Pigeons at Treshnish wood.
Corncrake heard at Haunn from 11pm until near midnight (Trevor Evans).
Saw what I thought was an unusual bee in Black Park. Terrible shots but the eyes are too large for a bee. It must be a bee-mimic hoverfly, probably Merodon equestris or Volucella bombylans. I will look at photos on the internet to see if it fits.
Several mining bees along the road through Treshnish wood (including Clarke’s over the bridge) and Black Park.
This furrow bee (Lasioglossum species) was opposite our gate and possibly same on our flowering brassicas.
This is possibly Ancistrocerus oviventris. I had one with only three bands identified as this species lasy year and also saw one similar to this with 5 bands on our Courgette flowers but fogot to get it checked. I have sent all for confirmation. There are several families of Eumeninae with a similar pattern.
and the Broad-leaved Helleborine just below the concrete ramp is emerging (just the one). Last night I went out to see what was eating the Narrow-leaved Helleborine nearest our house, there was a huge slug so hopefully it will recover. It has a flowering shoot so hopefully one of them will bare fruit.
22nd: Bullfinch heard at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse
21st: 6 Buzzards over Treshnish wood, 2 Bullfinches at Treshnish Old schoolhouse
20th: 1 Barn Owl at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse just before midnight.
19th: Red Grouse heard on hill to north of Black Park and at least 1 Tree Sparrow at Treshnish House.
Had a look at the south side of Treshnish Point for bees.
I am pretty sure this is Early Mining Bee. I have had a Plausible before but this is a female (with orange tail) and I think it will get confirmed. NBN has no records for out vice-county. BWARS has a record for Treshnish but I don’t think that can be mine from last year as mine wasn’t certain.
I also saw a mining bee at the Ensay Burn bridge (Treshnish wood) and 3 at south side of Treshnish Point. I will try and get them identified later.
I went back today to see if the flower had opened. It hasn’t but I think I found another plant. I am pretty sure that it is indeed Globeflower. It is in a diagonally adjacent 100m square so a new site. It is a rare species on Mull
16th: 2 Tree Sparrows and 2 Mealy Redpolls at Treshnish House (both rarities in Argyll).
Black Park was going to be my next site to check for bees. It has a south facing bank running parallel to the road. Yesterday it was too cold and overcast but as I set up a camera trap looking over the Barn Owl box I saw a south to east facing bank which was full of small holes.
So today a beautiful sunny day I went to check it out. As soon as I got there I saw a small bee. That was pretty lucky because mining bees can quite elusive especially when they are in their burrows. The first has been confirmed only down to the family level as a Lasioglossum species. The groove at the tip of the abdomen shows that is a furrow bee. There were 2.
In the bank with many holes I saw at least 6 bees enter the holes and only one come out. I ran out of battery power so had to go and get another and by the time I got back the whole bare bank was in shade. One landed on my camera and I tried to get it to move onto my finger so I could get a good shot but it flew off. I am pretty sure it is the same species I saw at Ensay Burn that I thought could be Black-headed Leafcutter Bee. but which has now been confirmed as a a worn Clarke’s Mining Bee. I know how big it is because it is the same size as the screw on my lens about 17mm long. So I presume it and the 5+ others are worn Clarke’s Mining Bees.
Also saw a new bumblebee, Gipsy Cuckoo Bee (verified). [On NBN Atlas the only cuckoo bee recorded in our Vice-county is Barbut’s Cuckoo Bee which has only been recorded on Coll but I see that the BWARS maps (downloadable only) are different from NBN Atlas and Gipsy Cuckoo Bee on BWARS has many records from Mull, Coll and Tiree so I will have to revise my vice county list (previous blog) when I have time to go through all BWARS maps.]
There were also 3 more Clarke’s Mining Bees at the Black Park east gate and one mining beside the road in front of Toechtamhor.
And a Bee Fly and 2 Garden Tiger caterpillars at the Black Park east gate.
Helophilus pendulus at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and Haunn.
15th: At least 2 Tree Sparrows at Treshnish House.
There were 2 Mountain Hares in the graveyard field but one flushed from almost under my feet so there are probably leverets there.
After seeing 2 mining bees without trying at Toechtamhor yesterday I thought it would be easy to find new sites today. The start was good with a Clarke’s Mining Bee on our cold frame but then it took me more than 4 hours to find my first non-bumblebee at the main Thyme Broomrape cliff near Ensay Burn mouth, where I also found many more. The first was a Fabricius’ Nomad Bee, and at least 3 Clarke’s Mining Bees.
This has been checked by an expert and has too much orange on the abdomen for Clarke’s Mining Bee but he didn’t give an identification so not sure I can take it further but will try and re-identify it.
This was burrowing into the bare soil on the cliff face. I thought it could be Black-headed Leafcutter Bee because it has long hairs on the underside of the abdomen but it has been identified as a faded Clarke’s Mining Bee
A mining bee right beside Toechtamhor (possibly Chocolate Mining Bee) and another on the bank beside the Toechtamhor gate (more yellow coloured top thorax ) but didn’t have my camera. Went back in the evening but couldn’t find any.
At the Treshnish wood bridge over Ensay Burn saw at least 2 Fabricius’ Nomad Bees and a Bee Fly.
The Moonwort at Toechtamhor has a fruiting body (first seen emerging on 21st April (possibly the 14th).
10th: Chiffchaff in Treshnish wood. I saw one last month but this was my first of the year in song. One or two pairs appear to breed in Treshnish wood most years.
Went to look for Fork-jawed Nomad Bee and on the Ensay side of the bridge saw a Clarke’s Mining Bee making burrows and presumably laying eggs inside. I made a film clip of it burrowing but it wasn’t in focus.
Also saw 1 or 2 Clarke’s Mining Bees to north of the Ensay waterfall.
I am a bit puzzled by this. It looks like a Buff-tailed Bumblebee but it is a queen. I haven’t seen a queen for a couple of weeks and those that I did see were dark. This one is pale. This also has the central yellow band extending well below the wing. At first I thought it was a Northern White-tailed Bumblebee but I don’t think they show the buff inner edge to the white ‘tail’ as this one does. Broken-belted Bumblebee has this buff fringe to the ‘tail’ but I think it has a longer face than this individual and the central band should extend onto the next segment forward.
P.S. Later identified by expert as Northern White-tailed Bumblebee.
Both Broken-belted Bumblebee and Northern White-tailed Bumblebee have been recorded on Mull but not by me.
North of the waterfall on the Ensay side in the wood I found a Rhingia campestris which I have only recorded once before on 20th August last year. Apparently they are double brooded which fits my two records.
I knew not to confuse this with a hawkmoth. It is a Bee Fly Bombylius major. I first saw it along the farm road through the wood and then later, presumably the same, by Ensay Burn bridge on the Ensay side and later by the waterfall.
The plausible Fork-jawed Nomad Bee (Nomada ruficornis) from the 8th is my most interesting bee record so far, so it was a bit disappointing not to able to be certain of its identification.
The problem is that it is very similar to Panzer’s Nomad Bee (N. panzeri) and Flavous Nomad Bee (N. flava). The latter has not been recorded in Scotland so that leaves possible confusion with Panzer’s Nomad Bee. Both of these bees are scarce in Scotland and their distribution gives no clues as to which species I saw.
All Nomad Bees are cleptoparasitic (on Mining and Furrow Bees). They lay eggs in a cell of their host’s nest and their larva eats the egg or larvae in that cell and when it hatches feeds on the foodstore.
The hosts should give me clues as to which species are involved. The host of Fork-jawed Nomad Bee is solely the Orange-tailed Mining Bee (Andrena haemorrhoa) which I have confirmed records of at Treshnish. That would seem to be the most likely scenario.
Panzer’s Nomad Bee is more complicated as it has several hosts none of which I have recorded yet. The hosts are Painted Mining Bee (Andrena fucata), Tawny Mining Bee (A. fulva), Coppice Mining Bee (A. helvola), Bilberry Mining Bee (A. lapponica), Broad-margined Mining Bee (A. synadelpha) and Blackthorn Mining Bee (A. varians).
Hosts of Panzer’s Nomad Bee in order of likelihood:
Painted Mining Bee: recorded on Mull with 1 record in southern Loch Frisa in 2005 (Gill Nisbit has a couple of good bee records from Loch Frisa). Six other records from West Scotland from Ulapool to the Clyde.
Coppice Mining Bee: recorded near Oban and on Ardnamurchan (1 record each) with 2 other records from Argyll
Bilberry Mining Bee: Only records from west Scotland is from Malaig (1 record) and a few records from the Glasgow area.
Tawny Mining Bee: no records from west or north Scotland
Broad-margined Mining Bee: 1 Scottish record from Tayside area
Blackthorn Mining Bee: No Scottish records
So to summarise if the species I saw was Panzer’s Nomad Bee then I should look out for Painted and Tawny Mining Bees. My next assignment, should I choose to accept it, is to try to and either get better shots or capture the nomad bee and try to get a photo of the mandibles and then release it.
8th:1 Whinchat in our garden and Whitethroat in surrounds.
Went to try and get better photos of the Fabricius’ Nomad Bee and found another new bee at the same spot but on the other side of the burn.
It has been accepted by an expert as a plausible Fork-jawed Nomad Bee. I only saw it for about a minute.
Not sure but this could be showing the ‘forked jaw’.
Fork-jawed Nomad Bee is a cleptoparasite of Orange-tailed Mining Bee which I have had confirmed at Treshnish.
7th: A new bee species for me and the farm, beside the Ensay Burn cattle-grid, Fabricius’ Nomad Bee. It is pretty scarce in Scotland but I see that it has been seen on Mull before.
It is a cleptoparasite of Gwnynne’s Mining Bee which I have only had confirmed as plausible so this is further of Gwnynne’s Mining Bee .
5th: Red Grouse heard behind Toechtamhor
4th: 11 Black-tailed Godwits ssp islandica near Treshnish House. They were in beautiful summer plumage, on their way back to Iceland.
Between 31 April-4 May : Studio guests saw House Martin(s) around Treshnish House.
2nd: Went to try and get Barn Owl photos in Black Park. I was too late to see it leave the box and it was so fast returning that I wasn’t fast enough for a flight shot. It went immediately deep into the box and didn’t show itself until much later by which time it was very dark. These are shot with 5000 ISO.
These could be two different birds (as the first dropped down for a couple of minutes). One looks larger and has a more prominent facial disk outline but that could be an optical illusion. There was a pair in the cliffs at Treshnish Point for a few weeks in 2012 with 2 present from 27th April to 20th May (with singles from before the 21st to 3rd June) but they failed to breed so this looks like it could be the first real breeding attempt.