Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Ashy Mining Bee

I came across a sizable colony of Ashy Mining Bees (Andrena cineraria) on a South facing grassy slope just below Morpeth castle. This is the first time I have noticed this species. Males occur first following hibernation then mate and die once mated with the females. The slenderness of the 40 or so bees flying around suggested these were males but I could be wrong. There was a lot of mining activity with spoils of earth being pushed out of some holes and it appears to be shared with the much commoner Tawny Mining Bees which were also active at the same site. 
I looked at distribution maps for the Ashy Mining Bee and it is common in Southern and Western Britain and dots on the map appears to only come as far North as Durham on the East side of the UK but as far North as Western Scotland on the other side of the country. I'm sure like many insects they are under recorded and fellow naturalists further North should keep a look out for this species on their patches. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Turkey Oak

There's an interesting article in the latest British Wildlife magazine about the spread of the Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) in the British Isles (Vol 28, No 3, February 2017) by Ben Rose. Worth a read but this introduced tree was planted chiefly in  parks. It's timber has no particular commercial value but it has spread in various parts of the country particularly Southern England  but it is more sparsely distributed in Scotland and Ireland. In Northumberland it hardly has a mention in Swan's flora and on the BSBI website there are only a few records. I know this species from Morpeth as it grows only a few hundred yards from my house on the edge of High House woods. There are 2 mature trees pictured above and some smaller ones growing nearby. I will post some pictures later in the year as the leaves and acorns are very distinctive.

What a difference a week makes...last week with a biting Easterly and sleet and rain showers it was very cold and miserable brightened by some Waxwings on the street. Above are part of a flock of 26 but there was also more at Coopies Lane industrial estate with a flock of 37 (light very poor for photography). A cat frightened these birds off but they returned a little while later. This weekend was more spring-like with Celandines in flower and a large patch of Crow Garlic on the hillside at Morpeth castle (leaves only at the moment) but much milder and a more pleasant.