Friday, 10th June 2005

ruby-tailed waspBarbara spotted this ruby-tailed wasp climbing up the kitchen window yesterday morning. It was continually active, making short flights. I caught it in a bug box and attempted to photograph it (the blur on the far right of the photogaph!) but didn't keep it too long as it gave the impression of having urgent business it needed to get back to.

bug boxMichael Chinery's Collins Guide to Insects identifies it as Cleptes fulgida; it's the blue area at the front of the abdomen that distinguishes it from related species. This wasp is parasitic on digger and mason wasps (although it's mason bees that we find digging in the soft lime mortar of our house wall). He describes it as rare in Britain and of southern distribution but the book is dated 1986 so it might well have spread in last 20 years.

Calder Island

silt spitpromontaryI've been looking back over old sketchbooks while preparing my garden book and noticed a drawing (left) of a bare, rubbish-strewn spit of silt on the river. Today it's jungly with tall vegetation including 'canal grass' (Phalaris), Himalayan balsam and what looks like oil seed rape, the seeds of which might have been washed down from the riverside fields upstream. There's hardly room for fisherman or bird amongst the shoulder-high vegetation.

The river is rather low and trails of white foam are prominent against the dark waters. Next Page

Richard Bell,