Saturday 14 April.
The first warm(ish) spring day of a slow, dull year. An old pasture on the margins of Monmouth is carpeted with Red Dead-nettles beneath its ancient oaks.
RDN is a fragile annual usually seen on roadside verges or in neglected corners of gardens. It grows easily on thin bare soil, and it is a favourite with the Hairy-footed Flower Bee.
There were several of these, both the brown males and black females, easily detected by their loud hum, their dashing flight and unusual bee-practice of hovering. Below is a female recovering from a brief sleep in the fridge.
Crawling about on the flowers in more lumbering style were bumblebees in small numbers, mostly big queens including Buff-tailed, White-tailed, Red-tailed both Large and Small. My guess is that under the thick, tall hedge bordering the field are some good nesting places.
A number of much smaller bees turned out to be Short-fringed Mining Bees (Andrena dorsata), a neat little insect with red furry thorax and black shiny abdomen with thin, buff-white bands, broken in the middle. This is a common bee in Monmouth, and it comes in two generations, spring and summer. Later in the season it is regularly found on bramble flowers. This one has found a globe-thistle in the allotments.