This morning JWR and myself took an unseasonable trip up to the Harthope Valley in the Cheviots.
The weather was warm, but remained stubbornly overcast all morning, not ideal for photography, so bear with me.
On arrival a little flurry of lanky looking critters ran over the road, looking like tiny emus. Three, I think, Curlew chicks, and their parent forced a scrabble for the camera, but they didnt linger long...
First stop at the cattle grids for a cuppa seemed very quiet. Redpolls were feeding young as were Willow Warblers and Whinchat, while a Treecreeper showed briefly. Common Sandpipers and Grey Wagtails were display flighting and a Snipe was heard drumming high over the river. A few plants noted included Climbing Corydalis, Wood Cranesbill, Heath Bedstraw, Thyme, Eyebright sp and Bell Heather. The small meadows here look lovely at this time with a host of wild flowers on display. its not Upper Teesdale or the Machair by a long way, but nice all the same.
As it warmed up, insects became more active, so we checked patches of flowers for a couple of new species. The vast majority seemed to be Buff tailed Bumblebee, but we soon located target number one - Bombus monticola the Mountain Bumblebee. 4+ very small ones were quite elusive, keeping close into the flowers. Look a the pics closely and you can see almost every bloom has been pierced by bumblers seeking nectar through the sides. The other bee looked for was Bombus jonellus, Heath Bumbler, but there was no sign. Maybe they dont occur here?
The Mountain Bumblebee is identified in these shots by the russet red covering almost all of the abdomen rather than just the tail.