25 March 2010

Blooming Willow everywhere!

Spent the morning looking for migrants at Crymlyn Burrows, Crymlyn Bog and the Tennant Canal. Found my first Willow Warbler of the year at Crymlyn Bog and also found out how tricky it is to digiscope one while it's feeding. Therefore to compensate for this I turned my attention to a Bullfinch, who was far less interested in moving around!Most, if not all, of the Chiffchaffs and Willow Warbler were feeding in, or near to, flowering Grey Willow Salix cinerea Feeding on the insects attracted to the flowering buds. A good number of Bumblebees were using the Willows, but the ones I saw well enough to i.d. were all Buff-tailed Bumblebees Bombus terrestris.

Charles Hipkin notes: "As well as bumble bee queens, blue tits and probably other bird species feed on willow catkins at this time of year, but I've not seen bullfinches doing it before. All these birds are effective pollinators when they do this. Willows are dioecious, i.e. a tree is either a male or a female. The tree in this photograph is a male and this bird will become dusted with pollen on its face while foraging in the male catkins. This pollen may eventually find its way on to the female catkins if the bird visits a female tree. Bird pollination is very common in the tropics, but not in Britain, so observations like this are really important."

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