Over the years, as experience builds up, you make a series of 'rules' which help you reach an identification. Until yesterday, one of my rules was "If you see a bee which is less than 20mm long, then it isn't one of the social bees". Applying this rule, I leaned towards one of the Andrena solitary bees for this specimen:
But it didn't match any of the images that I could find in the usual places. When I asked for help, back came "It's a Honeybee". Blinded by assumption (and not helped by the fact that this was roughly 60% - 70% as big as I would normally see), I had excluded the obvious. Factor in the fact that Honeybees have become very rare in our area, and the mistake is easy to make.
Moving swiftly on......
This Eristalis tenax hoverfly has the very dark colouring that we expect to see in early specimens. The summer generation of many of our hoverflies is much brighter due to the higher temperatures. This female will have mated at the end of last year and has managed to successfully shelter in some nook or cranny through the -17 degrees that we endured in December:
|Female Eristalis tenax|
|Queen Bombus lucorum|
With the early willow pollen season being so short, no time is wasted before the willow-dependent moths appear. This is the first Common Quaker - Orthosia cerasi - of the year:
|Common Quaker - Orthosia cerasi|
The Common Quaker is readily identified by the large, rounded, 'kidney mark' which has a pale, thin, outline which matches the colour of the thick band near the trailing edge of the wing.