Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wild cherry flowers (Prunus avium)

The wild cherries are flowering with particular magnificence this year in the Sussex countryside. They seem especially fine probably because it has been warm and sunny and there has been little rain or wind to shatter the blossom.

Their flowering gives the best of excuses to post A E Housman's poem:

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Tawny mining bee (Andrena fulva)

Today I was sitting in the sunshine in our garden in East Sussex when I noticed a bee visiting the flowers of wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides): a striking contrast between lime green and auburn.

With its bright orange top and black underside it is easily determined as a tawny mining bee, a species I have not seen in the garden before, though it is common enough in England. Sometimes known as the 'lawn bee', the female digs holes like small volcanoes in short grass areas for her brood.