In the Vineyard budburst is well under way and the vine leaves are unfurling and elsewhere on the Estate wildlife is really awakening. The opening image is just a snapshot of a few bee species found on our Trail. The blossom is a great early source of nutrition for so many species and I would really encourage you to take a peek.
This months warm and dry weather has really encouraged the wildlife to wake up. As the bees awaken so do their mimics and their predators. One that is particularly prevalent at the moment is the bee fly. As the name suggests this is actually a fly which mimics a bee – and it does this rather well (apart from the lack of yellow stripes! – Ed)
Bombylius major (Dark edged bee fly) is pictured above which is distinguished by its black markings on its wings. A common species but often overlooked as people only get a glimpse of this wonderful fluffy ball and assume it is a bee. I managed to be patient with this one and wait till it landed to snap a shot with my Iphone (other phones are available). There is a close relative of this bee fly which is Bombylius discolour (dotted bee fly) which is poorly photographed below.
If you squint and look at the blurred image above you can make out the dots on the rear of this fly. I didn’t have the time to wait for this one to land and stay still! Often seen flitting around the flowers and lower vegetation on the Trail and around the Vineyard. In some ways these flies resemble furry humming birds as they hover in front of a flower for a swift amuse bouche. Over the next few weeks the wild flowers associated with the South Downs and our Vineyard will really come into life.
We have also just finished planting another 5,000 hedge plants and a further 250 trees on the Estate. These will supply some shelter for our vines in years to come when we expand our planting regime. The hedge importantly provides a wildlife corridor between the north and south elements of our Vineyard. This will allow butterflies to shelter, insects to breed and a food source for the birds. Once established the 1000m hedge will reduce the wind speed slightly for the growth of our vines – so everyone is happy.
Slightly out of my jurisdiction is the wonderful garden of the Clergy House in Alfriston which is a National Trust property and well worth a visit. The image below was taken last weekend from their orchard area and is the Snake’s head fritilliary. An incredible plant with a striking flower head. One not to be missed.
That’s about it from me on the wildlife aspects of the Estate – a snippet of what is going on. See the events section of the website for all the ‘human’ goings on at the Estate from Tours, Alfest, Sunday roasts, Pop Up restaurants and best of all – making Sussex Sparkling wine.
If like me you over indulged over the Easter break then the image below may look familiar! This queen bumblebee was well and truly stuck in a daffodil in a vain attempt to get some more sustenance – time for me to get out on my bike and burn some of those chocolate eggs I was forced to consume….