Insects fascinate me, and by that I don't just mean the obvious butterflies and moths. If I had infinite time, patience and was able to possess all of the many keys available, then I might just attempt at having a proper go at identifying groups such as the beetles, wasps, ants, bees and flies (there are more... many more). It is still possible to appreciate them without the need to name them of course, and that is where I find myself most of the time - something pops up, takes my fancy and maybe, just maybe, gets identified.
There were two species that caught my attention in 2016, both quite showy and eminently identifiable. The first was a rare bee, found at only a handful of sites in southern England, one which just so happens to be the RSPB reserve at Dungeness. Please say hello to Andrena vaga, The Grey-backed Mining Bee:
I had looked for this bee in previous years, but always left it too late (April is the best time to look) or happened to coincide my searches with inclement weather. This April I timed a visit with a sunny and mild (if blustery) day. Several were on the wing and allowed close approach.
The second species was a corker - a very large, violet bee that demands your attention. I saw several of them in July on the island of Majorca - Violet Carpenter Bee:
Pollenca old town was a hot spot, with the steps leading up to the small church a happy hunting ground for me. One well-flowered garden had up to six of them visiting the blooms, allowing me to stand inches away, where I stayed for at least half-an-hour. A procession of tourists walked past, wondering what the strange man was doing lurking in the bushes. I have yet to see this species in the UK, but there again very few people have. It is certainly on my 'most wanted' list for this side of the channel.