We failed on the latter, but we're optimistic that by the time all the specimens have been identified we'll have amassed a list that will show the benefits of restoring the heathland. Aided by local experts Tom and David we immediately started finding species I'd never seen (or in some cases heard of) before. Some felled trees near the entrance to the reserve provided the first interest of the day, their upturned root plates providing a vertical profile like a miniature cliff, perfect for nesting bees like the tiny Lasioglossum parvulum. Where you find nesting bees, you often find their parasites, and in this case they outnumbered their hosts, with a small swarm of the smallest Nomad bee in the UK, Nomada sheppardana, loitering around the nest holes.
|The diminutive Lasioglossum parvulum|
|Its equally tiny cuckoo bee Nomada sheppardana|
Moving further into the reserve we were sound being treated to a masterclass in bee identification, as Tom and David demonstrated some impressive field knowledge in putting names to a range of Lasioglossum species which look almost identical at first sight. Final identifications will come from examination under the microscope, but we probably added L.morio, L.smeathmanellum, L.leucozonium and L.prasinum to the day list in a matter of minutes.
|Lasioglossum leucozonium, refueling shortly after being released|
Heading downhill again, we found a few more flowers growing by the side of the track, and with them a new set of bees, including the dazzlingly blue Ceratina cyanea, followed by a lovely female Andrea labiata, with its black tipped red abdomen making it look like a giant version of the many Sphecodes cuckoo bees that were patrolling the heath. Tom also found another cracking non-bee with the spectacular long-horned beetle Rhagium bifasciatum.
After a bit more wandering we ended up at our final site for the day, a large flowering holly that was attracting a range of bees and other insects, including a slightly battered Green Hairstreak and one of the better wasp mimicking hoverflies, Xanthogramma pedissequum.
|Green Hairstreak that's been in the wars|