Apr 032019

An expert is going through my hoverfly records from last year at Treshnish. Last year I tried to limit them to those that I was unsure of or new, late and early records. Some new species were obvious but some were very tricky and so I’m pleased that some difficult species have been accepted. I will print an update when he has finished.

20th: About 30 godwits fying west at Haunn cottages were thought to be Black-Tailed Godwits.
Moonwort emerging at Toechtamhor cottage.

18th: 3 Swallows over Treshnish lochan area, 2 Grey Wagtails at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and presumably same at cattlegrid and waterfall.
1 female Northern Mining Bee,

11+ male mining bees lecking at Treshnish wood waterfall which I have realised must be Clarke’s Mining Bee

along with at least 2 females,

there were many fights

but these were copulating

2-5 probable Small Flecked Mining Bee,

This one is, I’m pretty sure, a female

2 Fabricius’ Nomad Bee and 1 bee fly at Treshnish wood waterfall. Bee fly is parasitic on Northern Mining Bee.

An ant was seen carrying a mining bee. I stole it and haver sent it to an expert but I presume it is a male Clarke’s Mining Bee.

A so far, unidentified beetle at the waterfall (on my camera lens)

17th: Chiffchaff(s) heard at waterfall and photographed at cattle-grid and Willow Warblers heard in Treshnish wood, firstly at the cattlegrid. Others saw a Swallow below Treshnish House. All first of the year records for Treshnish.

The bee with bright orange hind tarsi at the waterfall which I thought was Red-backed Mining Bee, I am told by an expert, is probably Northern Mining Bee, a first for Mull with the nearest records being Loch Tay, Islay, S. Uist and Pitlochry. I waited for over 2 hours as it excavated a nest burrow, hoping to get a good shot as it exited. I didn’t.

At least 1 possible Coppice Mining Bee at Nissen hut

2 Clarke’s Mining Bee at waterfall and 1 at Nissen hut.

1 Fabricius’ Nomad Bee at Treshnish side of Ensay Burn cattlegrid and 2 (male and female) at Ensay side.
6+ poss male Hawthorn Bees at Treshnish wood waterfall. One landed on my trousers.

1 furrow bee at Nissen hut.
1 beetle prob Thanatophilus rugosus just over fence to west of Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.

12th: I went to check the plants I had recorded as Butterbur below Treshnish House. I was concerned that I had misidentified them based solely on leaves but the flowers are there so no extra paperwork. I have one more sit to double-check in the boathouse meadow.

11th: 2 Sand Martins over Treshnish wood along Ensay Burn (my first of the year).
2 Long-tailed Tits at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse so I think they must be breeding in the wood this year.
I had another breakthrough with the mining bees with white face, rufous thorax, well defined pale hair bands and orange ‘tail’ at Treshnish wood waterfall. A few days ago I wondered if this and the small grey bees could be the different sexes of the same species with small grey ones being the males. Today I saw 5 possibly 6 of the larger bees in a very small area, sometimes all within the span of a hand. They were exploring and sometimes fighting. I wondered why they weren’t actually doing anything. Usually when I see nest digging there is definitely a certain amount of prospecting but sooner or later they get down to burrowing. Presumably this even more true of spring bees which are more likely to be severely hampered by bad weather. In Scotland this can be true even in the summer, yet these 5 or 6 bees didn’t seem to be anything except walking around in the same area, fighting with occasional short flights only to return quite soon.

It wasn’t until that evening that it occurred to me that these 5 or 6 were actually males and what I was witnessing was lecking or swarming. I am pretty sure that some of my photos of the last few days are females because the pollen basket is visible but otherwise these males look very similar and are of a roughly equal size. I can’t totally rule out the possibility that the fighting I was seeing was actually mating but it did look very aggressive. The area they were patrolling had spoil heaps, presumably of this species so there must have been females around at some time. Now I just have to find out what species they are!
The lecking males were also seen fighting with Clarke’s Mining Bee.

So my original theory that the small grey bees were the males and the larger more brown bees were females of the same species is in fact the exact opposite in many cases.
I have struggled for days even after discovering the small grey bees were females because no small grey females should be flying this time of year which is why I thought they must be males which are often smaller, more grey and difficult to id. I have come to the conclusion that the flight times in the books given for the small grey bees are inaccurate possibly because we have such mild winters; windy but not very cold. So I think the small grey bees are Small Flecked Mining Bee. I have 2 accepted records at Treshnish from the summer last year and one looks very similar to those below. So now I shall submit it and see. (The other small grey bee is Tormentil Mining Bee but that should have yellow legs and supposed to fly even later in the year). There were at least 3 present.

3 Fabricius’ Nomad Bees at 2 sites down Ensay Burn and nearby a mining bee in the meadow to south-east of Ensay Burn mouth. It may be a Gwynne’s Mining Bee.

where there was also a Cheilosia grossa

At least 1 Early Bumblebee (my first of the year) on a willow low down on Ensay Burn and another to west of Ensay Burn mouth

where there was also my first Garden Bumblebee of the year

along with a huge centipede.

A beautifully coloured beetle at the waterfall, possibly Chrysolina hyperici.

10th: At least 2 Buff-tailed Bumblebees queens on the willow at Treshnish House (my first of the year for Treshnish).

This mining bee near the Nissen hut in Treshnish wood looks similar to the white face, orange to tawny thorax, pale-hair banded mining bees at the waterfall in last visits but this one has long orangey hairs on the inner tergites and is definitely a female. It has nest burrows here and the pollen baskets in the slightly orangey legs are obvious. It doesn’t fit anything obvious that should be flying at this time of year but I am less and less sure that the flight times in the books are reliable for Mull.

This mining bee with orange legs, at Treshnish wood waterfall, is presumably Northern Mining Bee.

Possibly the same 15 minutes later

3+ small grey mining bees at the waterfall. The break-through came today when I saw one burrowing a nest tunnel. That means that at least this one is a female and can’t be the same species as the one with the white face, orange to buff thorax and pale hairy banded abdomen with an orange tail. I saw it start making a burrow and 2 hours it still hadn’t emerged. The light had gone so I gave up waiting.

3+ of the mining bees with white face, rufous to buff thorax, white banded bees and orange tail

3+ Clarke’s Mining Bees at waterfall.
2+ Fabricius’ Nomad Bee at waterfall

1 bee fly presumably Great Bee Fly Bombylius major at waterfall

The Green-veined White was still waiting for more sun but at about noon it flew and could be seen flying around our house.

This geometer moth by Nissen hut in Treshnish wood will take some time to id.

9th: Common Lizard at Treshnish wood waterfall

A Green-veined White must have just emerged and crawled onto our window sill.

I took it to some vegetation and within a minute it looked like this.

and in the evening it was still there

A new beetle for me near Treshnish wood Nissen hut

along with the usual furrow bee(s)

and this mining bee, which I am still working on

this is the same bee from a slightly different angle, so it appears less hairy and the orange ‘tail’ is more visible

and at the same site a tiny bug, possibly Scolopostethus decoratus or a very close relative

1 Fabricius’ Nomad Bee on Treshnish side of Ensay Burn cattle grid along with a probable Gwynne’s Mining Bee and same two species on the other side of the bridge and at least 2 Fabricius’ Nomad Bees at Treshnish wood waterfall

along with at least 1 Clarke’s Mining Bee at Treshnish wood waterfall.

Several times the Clarke’s was seen fighting or rather being attacked by these mining bees with white face, orange to buff thorax and white face

and the small grey mining bee.

I saw them interacting and thought they could be male and female but later events made me rethink that theory.

This is I think is, Northern Mining Bee at the waterfall. If so it is a new species for Mull

1 bee fly at Treshnish wood waterfall. The photo is poor but I think it must be Great Bee Fly Bombylius major.

8th: It was sunny and windy and a late start meant I only saw 3 solitary bees, all the Treshnish wood waterfall. 1 Clarke’s Mining Bee inspecting suitable nesting potential and within a metre 2 Mining Bees which will need a lot of effort to even hazard a guess. They may have been a male and female of the same species as they interacted with each other in flight.
This is the small one which I think is the male

and this is the female.

probably the same

Red-Breasted Carrion Beetle Oiceoptoma thoracicum at Treshnish wood waterfall

Another beetle which needs identification at Treshnish wood waterfall

Red Admiral at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse (first definite of the year for me at Treshnish) and a very dark butterfly which I think must have been a Peacock northeast of the waterfall.

7th: Graeme and Angie, regular guests, saw a Wheatear at Treshnish, the first record of the year.
A new beetle for me possibly Notiophilus substriatus or N. biguttatus near the Nissen hut

Narrow-leaved Helleborine plants near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and the one below the concrete ramp are emerging and have avout 1cm of shoot. I don’t know the exact spot of the one near the ramp so I can’t check it safely.

2nd: Pair of Grey Wagtails at Ensay Burn mouth.
Unopened flowering Bluebell at Butterbur site to west of Ensay Burn mouth. Butterbur also flowering. It always surprises me that this area has the earliest Bluebells and the earliest Early-purple Orchid and yet is it north-east facing which would seem like the worst  aspect for getting sunlight. I must go around now and check for some other areas where I may have mixed up Butterbur and Lesser Burdock leaves. Right now, with them flowering, it is impossible to confuse them.

First Gwynne’s Mining Bee and Fabricius’ Nomad Bee of the year at a new site up from Ensay Burn mouth. The Gwynne’s was digging nest burrows whilst the Fabricius’ patrolled around. The latter is parasitic on the former. Last spring was cold and I was only just learning about how to find solitary bees away from our garden flowers. My previous earliest Gwynne’s Mining Bee was on 8th May and earliest Fabricius’ Nomad Bee was on 7th May, both last year.
The Clarke’s Mining Bee seen on 31st of last month was almost a month earlier than previous earliest which was 29th April last year. I saw it again by the waterfall today and this time it was digging a nest burrow.

Gwynne’s Mining Bee (probably more than 1)

Fabricius’ Nomad Bee

I think this is a Red Wasp Vespula rufa by Treshnish Ensay Burn bridge. It doesn’t look the same as some photos on the identification pages I found on the internet but some angles show the red edges to the abdomen cross bands (bottom image) and there is an overall reddish cast so although at first I was unsure, I have ended up confident that this is the correct id. I have only seen it once before, last year in Treshnish wood.

By Treshnish Ensay Burn bridge saw a hoverfly which only allowed a couple of shots. I think it is a new species for me, possibly Cheilosia chrysocoma, although I have a couple of records submitted from last year that have not been checked yet. It is a Nationally Scarce species which has been recorded on Mull before. In fact Mull is one of the four best areas in the UK for this species. I think I also saw the same hoverfly on the other side of the bridge on the 31st March but again it spooked easily. Hopefully I can re-find it. [I have been informed by an expert that it could be Cheilosia grossa but without more photos it is nor certain.]

Cheilosia grossa in the meadow on the Ensay side of the burn mouth. A new hoverfly species for me.

On the road through Treshnish wood a large fly Tadorna ursina which I have only seen once before, on 10th April last year just a little further up the road.

Thale Cress above the Thyme Broomrape site to west of Ensay Burn mouth. It flowers here every year. It is rare on Mull.

 April 3, 2019

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