A few short local walks provided the entertainment this weekend. As we entered Pishiobury Park with the dogs we were advised to avoid the “Swarm of Hornets” that were loudly buzzing nearby. From a safe distance I observed about a 100 or so insects buzzing in a furious swarm. Now in my recent walks the only insect I’ve seen that could be doing this in this number is bumble bees, but do they swarm like this? The best I can do is this
Bumblebees don't form swarms like honeybees do. But you might see a few bees flying outside a nest, especially if it's in a bird box or somewhere else above ground. These are male bees hovering outside the nest, waiting for queens to emerge so that they can mate. Male bumblebees cannot sting, and they pose no risk to you at all. Therefore, no action is needed to be taken for them.
On the return leg a stop to scan the skies. Common Buzzard, Kestrel, a few Common Swifts high up, and then what’s this? Something swift-like but not a swift. Larger, fluid deep wing beets, rather falcon like, or possible tern like, or wader like. When it turns I should get a better idea, but it doesn’t turn instead keeps on going where it is joined by two more, similar, possibly the same species. And high and distant these falcony/terny/wadery things keep going leaving me in a complete quandry, and quite exhilarated with the thought of what they could be.
Later on another walk a cuckoo silently jumped up from some long grass with an irate Whitethroat in attendance, and then flew off. Shortly afterwards cuckooing started from the top of an adjacent tree. Presumably this is a pair –I'm assuming the male calling from the tree top is not the bird rooting around in the grass, as this would be the female?
The bumble bees were still there, now identified as Common Carder Bee and on a large patch of Comfrey (thanks to Andy Sapsford). There were also buff-tailed bumble bee workers – like the queen but half the size. I reckoned about 7-10 per square metre, with about 30 sq m of Comfrey gives around 200-300 bees in this area for two species, so about two nests – one per species.
Then this morning a trip with camera to snap Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler. They both performed as well as these species can. Unfortunately I didn’t. Here’s some shots that demonstrate that despite technology advances, some skill is required to get decent shots, and I don’t have that yet.