Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bumble Bee? rare bee? or not rare bee? that is the question?

Buff - Tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris?

After posting this"Bumble Bee"photo on the my blog last night it already has a few naturalist asking questions? To start with....Yes, this photo was taken in my garden here on Fair Isle, Shetland.
I have to admit I looked in my Collins - Complete British Insects Guide Book?
Once there I was a bit confused, though I was drawn to the photo of Bomus terrestis it didn't have the ginger fringe on the tail? (a trait of the Queen?) So I just called it "Bee! 1st of the year!"And I was very happy with that, if it turns out to be a first for Shetland I'll be thrilled...

to quote one naturalist: 
 "It looks to be a very fresh looking Bombus terrestris queen – a species which has not yet been recorded in Orkney or Shetland so far as I know. Was the photo definitely taken on Fair Isle?
 If so it’s a very surprising find!"

I have added 4 more photos to make sure the identification is correct.

What do you think? 
Could it Bee a 1st for Fair Isle, Shetland & Orkney?

From an Email from Fair Isle's Nick Riddiford in Majorca:
Yes, you've got the bee world buzzing. Northernmost UK record; first northern isles record for Buff-Tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris, congrats. Significant find.

Added march 29th 2012
Henry's Bee found in the school play ground - Photo by Amber

Two days ago when I told my son 11 year old son Henry that I saw the first Bee of spring... He said, "Ha! I had one yesterday in the school playground." Cheeky! So yesterday when I told Henry that the Bumble Bee I saw was a first for Fair Isle, Shetland & Orkney he thought he should have that record. As Henry tried to steal my thunder once again, I told him he should of taken a photo. He remembered he didn't but, his classmate Amber did with the school camera! I made a call last night and I was emailed this photo this morning from the school teacher. (Thanks Lisa!) Ha! not the same Bee! but I have not definitive identification for this species either? My Collins Guide Book - Complete British Insects isn't showing any Bee in this stage or view? using the book my best guess was Bombus pascuorum? or Bombus muscorum? but I went online to the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust website for further help with their guides and photos and now think it maybe Bombus humilis Brown Banded Carder Bee?

I need your help! again? what will it Bee?

Hey kids! the pros say it's a very early record of 
Bombus muscorum (Shetland Bumble Bee)
earliest ever recorded in Shetland

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Birds & the Bees & New Fire Station? New Spiny Starfish

Spiny Starfish - it's a new one for Henry & I
 With the low Spring tides it makes for great tidepooling! Here are a few of the more interesting finds. 
I like how the setting sunlight illuminates this Scorpion Fish.

Henry catches his biggest Squat Lobster ever!

Sand Goby
 Construction of the new Fire Station Building started Monday.
Gound Breaker - Magnus, David & Alistair
Engineering LTD.

Day 1

Day 2

The Birds
Siskin -female

Fair Isle Wren
It's Spring & I love hearing them sing!

& the Bee!
1st of the year!

Can you find the skulking Goldcrest in the old Christmas tree?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Norwegian Girls - Birds - Sports Relief - Tidepooling

The Norwegian girls play around... of golf!
 Media students from Norway have been staying at the Auld Haa Guesthouse and have extended their stay to last though the weekend due to heavy fog in Shetland making transport impossible.

A female Siskin

Birds have been on the move... 
I had a Goldcrest in the garden today!  other birds  around the Isle include Wagtails Pied & White,
a Kestrel, Siskins, Chiffchaff, Brambings, Black Redstart, Bean Geese & even a Puffin or 2 off shore.
Greylag, Pink-footed & Bean Geese. a real mixed gaggle!

How does Henry find these things!
Little Cushion Star - Asterina phylactica 
With the very low Spring tides we did some tidepooling of the South Lighthouse.

We found all sorts of things! High lights are... Henry refound 6 of his famous Little Cushion Stars. 
6 Sea Hares, 1 sea slugs Limacia clavigera, 1 Sacoglossa Elyia viridis, a Squat Lobster, Hermit Crabs, 
& a Long Clawed Porcelain Crab! we have only found one other but that was dead and in the stomach contents of a cod we caught last year.

Sea Hare - 2cm
Nudibranchia - Sea Slug  Limacia Clavigera  about 1cm

The UK's most remote Sports Relief runners on Fair Isle.
They ran about a mile up hill, from the Puff Inn to the School/Hall parking lot.
Henry & Deryk set a fast pace! but wisdom of age gave in to youth.

My Lighthouse Art Studio Window

The sun tries to burn off the clouds

Sunset at Fair Isle's South Lighthouse

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Certain Glow - Northern Lights & Aurora

Auld Haa House has a certain glow about it.
The Green haze of the Northern Lights shown bright in the clear moonless sky last night.
It looks oddly familiar in a light pollution hazy way, like a mall parking lot or a distant city just over the hill. 
The light shown brightly about 9pm only to fade into complete darkness by 10pm.
At midnight it shown almost as bright again then fading to darkness by 2pm when I finally went to bed.
Nedder Taft - Taft - Museum - Chapel - as seen from the Auld Haa

high beams lights
The School House
I took some of the colour out of this photo to make it more like what we actually see.

The camera collects light for many seconds while the eyes & brain go from moment to moment.

View from my South Light Studio looking north.

South Lighthouse

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stuart Hubbard - Guest Photographer

Gentleman Siskin
 We came into Fair Isle on the weekend of 16th March 2012, and stayed with Tommy, Liz and Henry at The Auld Haa. We - Shetland Film Club - came in to show films at the Fair Isle Hall on the Friday and Saturday night, but Fair Isle is a beautiful spot and it is always great to wander around to take in the sights; the shore in particular always has something of interest. We like to see the birds, although generally we have no idea what they are. On this occasion we were lucky enough to be accompanied by Tommy who said which was which, who was a regular and who was visiting.

And again. Hen seed is just fine

Fulmars having a chat

The mighty purple sandpiper
 On the shore at South Harbour
Purple Sandpiper. This is my right side. 

And this is my left side

I may or may not be a Dunlin?
 On the park just South of The Auld Haa. My friend the turnstone is just out of shot on the left.

Fair Isle Methodist Chapel by night.
Complete with the Northern Lights!
Cheers, Stuart Hubbard
member of Islesburgh Photographic Club

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Glowing Green For St.Patrick's Day! Aurora / Northern Lights

I knew it was St. Patrick's Day...
 when last night just after midnight the sky glowed green over the Methodist Chapel.
It must of been the luck of the Irish as it has been cloudy every night for the past few weeks! 

The outside door light at Skerry Holm shown on the field below the Museum.

Barkland & Field as viewed from the school parking lot.

Sheep Rock
The lights on the horizon to the right Sumburgh & a boat.
 The real trick is walking the hills near cliff tops after midnight...
The Snipe, Oystercatchers, Ducks & Geese where very disconcerting when flushed in the darkness.
The clouds closed in... better luck next time.