Friday, April 11, 2014

The return of spring

The bugles are flowering already - quite early, often they do not start until late April or early May - and the broad-buckler fern is unfolding. Most of the trees are now in leaf, even the oak and the ashes, and I discovered another small hornbeam just outside the western border of TSM.  Flies were warming themselves in the sunshine on leaves and trunks and a beetle ran rapidly along the now mossy cherry-plum log.

2014-04-11 11.58.19

A queen white-tailed bumble bee (Bombus lucorum sensu lato) buzzed about around the logs and bricks of North Wall and the forget-me-not. This bee is, apparently, now defined as a complex of three species B. lucorum, B. cryptarum and B. magnus which cannot be reliably distinguished from each other except by DNA analysis. The new systems of defining species that are now emerging make life difficult for the field naturalist without complicated laboratory facilities and the flora and fauna of the world is becoming a more complex phenomenon than we thought it was. Nevertheless, I still want to be able to talk and write about white-tailed bumble bees without having to explain what I mean in terms of genetics and phylogeny.