Sap rising

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I know it felt as though the winter would never end, but here we are finally, back at the bug porn season. This makes me very happy, and I know that some of you at least at least will be sharing my satisfaction.

R and I spent some time out in the garden this afternoon, he uprooting a small thicket that’s seeded itself around the oak tree, and me tinkering around with the wildlife pond, doing a little tidying, and taking a lot of photos. The pond is springing back to life now, with water beetles and aquatic snails feeding, larvae of various sizes zooming about, and frogs and newts – newts!!! – basking in sunny spots and then shooting off into the depths if humans get too close to the water’s edge. We don’t have any frog spawn, which is a little disappointing, but I haven’t yet given up hope.

The male hairy-footed flower bees are now out in force, and in case you’re not a connoisseur of bug porn I’ve added a photo of one in flight. I haven’t yet found a bee fly, but the first mining bees are emerging: a female Andrena trimmerana and both male and female Andrena bicolor were basking on one of the aucubas this afternoon. And it seemed as though everywhere I turned there were 7-spot ladybirds – I recorded twelve in total, including this pair, without looking especially hard.

Whenever I see 7-spot ladybirds copulating, the female generally seems completely unaware that she’s picked up a passenger and simply carries on with her day, while the male appears to be clinging on to her slippery wing cases for dear life. When I first saw this pair they were stationary because the female was eating something she’d caught, but by the time I took this photo she was off on her travels again, and I had to scramble across a flower bed to keep up with her.