Mapperton House in Dorset is not hard to find, but it is somewhat off the beaten track near Beaminster. In the recent film Far from the Madding Crowd the fine manor house, which dates from the c16, became the farm inherited by Bathsheba Everdene. We planned to see the film the weekend it came out, and spent the morning at Mapperton to get into a Hardyesque frame of mind. A form of ‘method’ film previewing, I suppose. It was a dull day, but here are some photos from our visit. And yes, we thought the film was wonderful, with ‘Bathsheba’ and ‘Gabriel’ excelling in particular…
The later west front of the house
The back of the house, from the gardens
The sunken garden
The sundial (base and column old, dial and gnomon new)
The stables and yard, as seen from the house in the film; and as they are
Note Bathsheba’s modern carriage
An unusual double-stepped mounting block
St Ambrose, with his hive and bees – one of several very good pieces of stained glass
Yah, Troy here, yah, the thing is I’ve sort of fallen for this feisty farmer girl, ok?
This is a small selection of bees visiting a Dorset garden during the last month or so. The favoured flowers have been Hyssop, Lavender, Alium and Cosmos. And if anyone knows the name of the pale bee in photo #4, I’d be pleased to know – it’s a real beauty.
First of all, what is this insect? (Amelia? Anyone? NOW SEE BELOW FOR ID) I saw a couple in the garden last year but had no camera with me. Today I at least had my phone. I’m sure it’s completely obvious – ‘a sting-snouted lesser hornet’ – but I’d like an authoritative ruling. Additional clue: they can hover.
Thanks to Jessica of the excellent blog NATURE IN FOCUS for ID as a member of the Bombylidae family, with the common name of bee-flies (see comments below). That lead me to the Natural History Museum website, where I found a very similar creature Bombylius major. The wing patterns in particular look much the same.Here’s the NHM image.
Secondly, there’s supposed to be a pink moon either tonight at around 3.00 a.m. tomorrow morning; or possibly tomorrow night at 3.00 the next night… It’s caused by a lunar eclipse, expected to last from 2.00 am to 4.30. The pink / red is to do with angle and atmosphere (as with dawn and dusk). Apparently. I tried to photograph the moon last night here in Dorset, where the light pollution is not too bad. It shone with extraordinary brightness and ‘flared’ my attempts. I’ve pinked one up in case I don’t wake up for the real thing…
An opportunity to remember Nick Drake, I think… Here’s the full album for nostalgics – and just the title track to follow.
My general rule is to try to stick to posting my own photos, with occasional illustrative borrows. But rules are made to be broken, and sometimes images that are so astounding that they are irresistible are made available online. The Guardian website showed some bees from the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab that are compelling… here are a few ‘in flight’, from their massive reference library of bee species. If you hover over each image, you’ll get the ID and location of the bee.
All photographs: Sam Droege and the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab
This plant at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk was a magnet for small bees. We watched them come and go, filling up their little saddlebags. Photos of bees in flight don’t often work well. These are no exception. Still, they do catch the general bizzyness of the proceedings. The plant was lovely, not one we knew. Another new bee plant find for the year, along with Hyssop.
The bees are working overtime as a chill spreads over September and winter downtime looms for them. So busy are they that there is competition for individual flowers – even though there are more than enough to go round. Bumbles were out in force yesterday, and there are still butterflies around, mainly tiny Small Coppers and Whites of different sizes.
We’ve done a quick assessment of plant popularity this spring and summer that produces this league table:
Hyssop – the runaway winner for bees of many types, ditto butterflies and (new entry) moths. Planted for the first time in May, and has effortlessly thrived (throve? thriven?) to become Nectar Central.
Lavender – perennial success with bees and butterflies. More planted this spring and very well visited.
Cosmos – new to the garden this year, a fast and easy grower, and hugely popular with bees, especially bumbles. Also visited by honey bees and butterflies, but only on their way the the hyssop.
Blurry, I know, but the intruder arrived from nowhere as I pressed the button… Why it didn’t land on one of several vacant flowers next to this one, I have no idea. Maybe fighting drunk on pollen?
Putting aside thoughts of a ‘Two Ronnies’ sketch about policemen in Dorchester, the small copper referred to is a butterfly I photographed yesterday. I only had a tiny old Canon with me (hello, ‘Two Ronnies’ Church Dignitaries sketch), with its ‘battery dying’ light flashing and no charger to hand. So these pics are the best I could get in a hurry…
It’s been a remarkable late summer for butterflies and moths, with many species I have never seen / noticed before – including this little one. It’s possibly because we planted some hyssop in early May that has flourished. At any given time of day, there have been 3 or 4 butterfly species (mostly Red Admirals, Peacocks, Tortoiseshells and Whites); a couple of moth brands; 3 or 4 bumblebee types (mostly white-tailed and carders); and varied honeybees of indeterminate make. Apart from a white buddleia, we have never had a plant that has been so attractive to flying creatures. Even the flycatchers have enjoyed it.
HYSSOP, WITH VERY PRETTY SMALL BEE [ID welcomed via ‘Comments’]