Right up until the end of the afternoon, my blip had been going to feature the beautiful female ashy mining bee I’ve added below. I love Andrena cineraria, with its elegantly understated livery, and as it’s usually one of the first mining bees to emerge in the spring it’s always an especially welcome sight. I was surprised to find a female today though, because I only spotted the first male of the season yesterday, and normally by the time a female appears there will be a group of males out and about, competing to be the the first to find her and get the chance to mate with her.

I’d finished all my searches of the garden for the day and was sitting reading at the table on the patio when the Peacock fluttered past – if it hadn’t been so big and brightly coloured I doubt I’d have noticed it all, but luckily I was able to track it to where it came to rest at the base of the sunny yard wall. When I attempted a record shot from a respectful distance I was confounded by the fact that I still had an extension tube on my macro lens, which shortens the maximum focal distance from infinity to just a few feet, so I had to stalk the butterfly very slowly and carefully until it came within range. In the end I managed to get very close indeed, which was pleasing as Peacocks aren’t generally so cooperative unless they’re feeding, and as much as anything else it’s this that boosted the butterfly into top spot tonight.

There are some interesting facts about this species here and here. I hadn’t known before reading up on it today that as well as scaring away potential predators with its eye spots, the Peacock can make an audible hissing noise by rubbing its wings together, which I find absolutely fascinating.