Tuesday 12 June 2018

When the wind doesn't blow

Gardening at Tense Towers is a challenging pastime. Both gardener and plants have to cope with all that the Orcadian weather throws their way, often horizontally. Chiefly, this is the realm of Our Lass, as the nearest I stray to cultivated flowers is ID-ing the wild stuff that pops up around the place. Valiantly, Our Lass has been tending a border which gains some protection from westerly winds by dint of a low dry stone wall.

At this time of year, the border seizes its moment for 15 degrees of Celsius minutes of fame, before the next howling gale shreds colourful petals and topples enthusiastic stems. Here it is in a photo from Sunday...

It's as though the plants know there's not much point in growing above wall height.

And even on a cloudy day, as Sunday was, the border was alive with pollinators. Silver Y moths were still present, the first Large White butterflies put in an appearance, there were all manner of flies and, best of all, several species of bumblebee.

Although the bees were very active and, ideally for ID purposes, I need them to remain perfectly still for minutes at a time, one species was very recognisable. It was a Great Yellow Bumblebee, Bombus distinguendus, a real northern treasure.

Its presence, amongst the alliums, chives, poppies, knapweeds and Red Campion, is a huge vote of confidence for all Our Lass's hard work.

There were also Garden Bumblebees and Common Carders.

And, as mentioned previously, the Large Whites were on the wing, although this pair had other ideas...

The first photo also has a photo-bombing ichneumon wasp, maybe even the heroine of the previous day's blogpost.

All the above photos were taken as we were trying to leave the house to go and buy some bedding plants. We simply struggled to tear ourselves away! Eventually, however, we made it to the car and drove down to South Ronaldsay to a nursery that was having an open day.

I must say, I was still in wildlife watching mode (is there any other mode?), so carried on photographing insects, as Our Lass chose more flowers for the border.

A hoverfly Sericomyia silentis

A hoverfly Eristalis sp, not pertinax as I first thought, but possibly either arbustorum or abusiva

A hoverfly Rhingia campestris
Later this week, we have a weather warning for a westerly gale gusting to 55 knots. We're nervous for the Aquilegias.


Mark said...

I was blown away when I saw 'great yellows' on the Isle of Harris, only to find out out they have been spotted on the Lincolnshire Wolds! I however think that is spurious. Mistaken identity. Mmmm.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Judging by today's weather forecast, anyone in the north of Scotland seeing a Great Yellow Bumblebee will also be blown away! Re Lincs (as opposed to links - habitat joke!), there are a few other species that could possibly be mistaken for GYB, but it is also possible that there is a tiny relict population of Great Yellow hanging on in previously recorded areas. Remember Nature-watching Rule One - wildlife doesn't read ID guides or species atlases.