I’ve set myself a challenge for this summer! I am going to try and photograph all of Devon’s bumblebees – I think there are 17 species but there might be more.
I’m not a bad field entomologist even though I say this myself but I do find bumblebees rather difficult. Of the 17 species about half are ‘normal’ bumblebees whilst the remainder are parasitic or cuckoo bumblebees i.e. they prey on ‘normal bumblebees rather than collect nectar to rear their young.
The summer has got off to a good start as I managed to photograph the Tree Bumblebee in my garden in Exeter which only arrived in Britain in 2000 and I had never seen before.
I will post all my bumblebees photos on my Flickr account and will update progress here. Please feel free to correct my IDs if you think I hae got them wrong.
So far I have seen 6 species but only snapped 3. Here they are.
The Tree Bumblebee – Bombus hypnorum
The Early Bumblebee Bombus pratorum
The Common Carder Bumblebee Bombus pascuorum
Every now and again something happens which you didn’t see coming which knocks the wind out of your sails – today was such a day for me.
This year the Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust (now part of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire) celebrated its 50th anniversary and an event to mark this milestone was held. I was aware of the anniversary but was unable to attend to the celebrations which took part on the 8th June in Cranford, Northamptonshire.
In the post today I received a card and a summary of a talk held on the day.
I left the Wildlife Trust in 1997 and to get this card absolutely bowled me over – it brought back so many happy memories and reminded me of all the good friends I had. What a kind and thoughtful thing to do and I must admit it is fantastic to be appreciated after all these years. It just makes me feel guilty I hadn’t reciprocated the gesture in the past …..
Ioan Thomas who sent me the card also provided his speech. I guess it is rather indulgent including it here but it made me happy!
The vast majority of staff and volunteers when I was Director of the NWT were also my friends – looking back on that era – it was indoubtedly one of the happiest times of my life and was incredibly exciting professionally. When I first started in conservation we were considered very marginal and during my tenure the movement found its legs and gained huge credibility.
The Council of the NWT entrusted their organisation to a very young man and even though I say it myself together we made massive progress in the 15 years I worked there.
I was also very lucky to be mentored by some of the really ‘big beasts’ in conservation such as Max Hooper (who signed the above card) and the late and great Frank Perring (whose wife also signed the card).
To Max, Ann, Phyllis, Carry, Alan, Rob, Nigel, Jan, Ioan, Sean, Ann, Perdita, Keith, Bob, Margaret, Judy and Jeremy – I remember you all and have so many happy memories. I wish you all the best and say a big thank you – your gesture is really appreciated.
I keep my beady eye on the Wildlife Trust and am aware you are progressing fantastically.
As you probably will remember I spent some time as the honorary warden at Short Wood and just to let you know whenever I see a bluebell I always think back to Short Wood and my walks and surveys of the place (with my old dog Fossie). To end up – here is a Devon bluebell on one of the special places I am responsible for now.
Today I found a bumblebee in my garden that I have never seen before. The species is Bombus hypnorum – the Tree Bumblebee. The species has spread across mainland Europe in recent years and was first recorded in the UK in 2000. There are only a handful of records so far in Devon but I am sure it is under-recorded. I found 3 individuals in 10 minutes. Note the ginger back and white tail. It is a species which likes wooded areas and gardens.
NB bumblebees all look a bit similar until you get your eye in – can really recommend this book to get you going – Field Guide to Bumblebees in Great Britain and Ireland by Mike Edwards and Martin Janner.
You can see the current national distribution here.
The team comprises of 14 people who squash and racketball. We will play at least 5 games over the summer before a knockout stage. The National Trust sponsors the team as it gives us a profile with hundreds of people of the next three months and gives me an opportunity to talk to participants about the Trust and its work across the south west. In previous years a number of people have joined the Trust as a result.
Our team all get a smart National Trust shirt which many will wear for years!
Here is Jon Hare (Full Fat Photography), Adrian Colston, General Manager for the Trust on Dartmoor and Gary Worth our number 1 at Racketball in our NT / FFP shirts. (NB we all look at bit dishevelled because we have all just play hard matches and it was very hot on court!)
The good news is tonight we won our first match!
Although we scored less points we won more matches and as a result got the bonus points!
Its a great way to talk about our work and our cause whilst also promoting the healthy living / fitness agenda. I am always amazed and heartened by how many people know and love our special places – Parke and Fingle Bridge were mentioned by a number of people tonight.
I will keep you updated on our progress as the summer continues.
The latest issue of Trail Running magazine has 31 National Trust trail running routes highlighting the brilliant nature of the Trust’s special places for running. Well done to @NTSport (Rob Joules) for sorting with the magazine.
There were several Devon routes in the magazine but none from Dartmoor so I thought I would add a few here for you which you can check out.
Parke – near Bovey Tracey – parkland, woodland, riverside and disused railway trails
Teign Valley – near Castle Drogo – run up and down the Gorge and along the river
Shaugh Prior – Dewerstone Woods – run up the Plym on the footpath to Cadover Bridge and back – spectacular
The Upper plym around Trowlesworthy – moorland running up to Hen Tor and then down to Shavercombe Valley and back along the Plym
Hembury Wood near Ashburton on the Dart. Plenty of footpaths throughout the wood – very up and down
Holne Wood, New Bridge on the Dart – great track up the Dart
Explore and enjoy!
This week has seen the launch of two important reports.
The first was called ‘State of Nature’ which detailed massive declines of wildlife in the UK over the past few decades – 60% of species in decline over the past 50 years! Here is a piece I wrote for the NT Press Office blog in my role as the Trust’s Nature Champion – If we think big and long term we can turn nature around.
The second report was called Valuing our National Parks and here is a piece Tom Seaward wrote for the NT Places blog using some of my experiences from 10 Tors and how that makes young people rise to the challenge of impending adulthood. How much do you value getting children outdoors?