11 February 2010

Velvet Scoter off Crymlyn Burrows Beach

2 Velvet Scoter off the beach today. Seen from the west end quite far out SS6991. The Great Crested Grebe numbered 40, with more in the distance nearer the Port Talbot Docks end of Aberavon Beach. 1 Red-throated Diver also present.

Also today a queen Bombus terrestris flying around searching for a nest site. A large Bumblebee with a buff tail which looked yellow on the Bumblebee I saw today. This feature helps separate the species from Bombus lucorum which has a white tail and can also be seen flying around in February.


Barry Stewart said...

Nigel Ajax-Lewis wrote:


You have beaten me to seeing the first bumblebee for 2010.

The buff tailed and white tailed split between B. terrestris and B. lucorum agg. only holds good for the queens it gets a bit more difficult when it come to some workers later in the season.

Both have two "yellow" stripes, I say "yellow" because B. terrestris is a buffish yellow whereas lucorum has lemon yellow stripes.

The 2 lemon striped white tailed B. lucorum agg. is actually three separate species in GB but I am only aware of B. lucorum in West Glamorgan.

But do count the stripes before the white tail because if it has three stripes 2 on the thorax and one on the abdomen it is B. hortorum another common species which has been out in February in recent warmer winters.

There are only 20 species of bumblebee recorded in Wales and I think Neath Port Talbot is a Welsh centre for bumblebees having recorded 17 species in the county over recent years.

Apologies for my bumblebee pedantry after a tiring week


Mark Hipkin said...

Hi Nigel

I see my trying to sneak a quick bumblebee record under the radar didn't work out. My very simple identification pointer certainly doesn't do the task justice. I must admit my knowledge has barely begun. In fact the little I now know I owe to Edwards & Jenner. Thanks for the info on the other bumblebees. It looks like I'm going to have to start looking a little closer now. It is good to know that there is a keen eye tracking my progress.


Anonymous said...

Still have not seen my first bumblebee for 2010 but might venture out to the winter flowering heathers in front of the civic centre in Bridgend (as it warms up this afternoon) in hope.

I find the best bumblebee id information is on the Natural History Museum website at

This is a site for Bumblebees of the World but has useful links to sections on UK species. The author lists 28 species for UK, rather than my 24, because he has split the B. lucorum complex in 3 species including B. cryptorum and B. magnus and included 2 species, B. cullumanus and B. pomorum which I had ignored because I thought they had not been recorded in the 20th century. He also lists B. smithianus which has now been found to be a variant of B. muscorum. And the other 3 species not found in Wales are B. distinguendus, B. subterraneus [now declared extinct in UK and subject to a re-introduction exercise from NZ because “we” introduced UK stock there in the 18th century] and B. ruderatus which although it is on the S42 list because it has been recorded in the West Midlands, has not been recorded in Wales since the 1950s.

So that leaves all 6 cuckoo bumblebees, 9 “true bumblebees” and 5 carder bees to be found in Wales including a new species for UK, the Tree carder Bee (B. hypnorum) first recorded in UK in 2001, and found first in Wales in Llandaff in May 2009.

So having beaten me to the first bumblebee for 2010, I will race you for the first B. hypnorum in West Glamorgan. It will be easy to spot as it is an obvious carder bee black and buff brown

But it is the only carder bee with a white tail!