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…

Mapperton House, Dorset 1 Mapperton House, Dorset 2 Mapperton House, Dorset - Gatepost The later west front of the houseMapperton House, Dorset - west side

The back of the house, from the gardensMapperton House, Dorset - back view

The sunken gardenMapperton House, Dorset - sunken gardensMapperton House, Dorset 5

The sundial (base and column old, dial and gnomon new)Mapperton House, Dorset - sundial

The orangeryMapperton House, Dorset - Orangery

The stables and yard, as seen from the house in the film; and as they areIMG_1487-1030x773Mapperton House, Dorset - stables A

Note Bathsheba’s modern carriageMapperton House, Dorset - stables B

An unusual double-stepped mounting blockMapperton House, Dorset - Mounting Block

The ChapelMapperton House, Dorset - chapel 1

St Ambrose, with his hive and bees – one of several very good pieces of stained glassSt Ambrose and bees, Mapperton, Dorset

Yah, Troy here, yah, the thing is I’ve sort of fallen for this feisty farmer girl, ok?

Tom Sturridge films a scene for the movie Far from the Madding Crowd in Dorset Featuring: Tom Sturridge Where: Sherbourne, United Kingdom When: 22 Oct 2013 Credit:
Tom Sturridge films a scene for the movie Far from the Madding Crowd in Dorset
Featuring: Tom Sturridge
Where: Sherbourne, United Kingdom
When: 22 Oct 2013

Mapperton Map jpg


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.

Summer Bees Dorset 1Summer Bees Dorset 2Summer Bees Dorset 3Summer Bees Dorset 4Summer Bees Dorset 5Summer Bees Dorset 6Summer Bees Dorset 8Summer Bees Dorset 9Summer Bees Dorset 10Summer Bees Dorset 11


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.Bee Query Totnell 1 Bee query Totnell 2

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.

Bee Fly Bombylius maj NHM

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…Pink Moon

An opportunity to remember Nick Drake, I think… Here’s the full album for nostalgics – and just the title track to follow.



Following up my last bee post, here are some more amazing macro shots of bees  from Sam Droege and the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab. This time, it’s up close and personal… 

Macro photograph of bee #11 Macro photograph of bee #13 Macro photograph of bee #14 Macro photograph of bee #6 Macro photograph of bee #9

This is in fact a jumping spider, but I just couldn’t leave it out…Macro photograph of spider All photographs: Sam Droege and the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab 


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.

A female Augochloropsis metallica bee, collected from a tomato plant in San Francisco. A female Halictus ligatus bee, from the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania A male Euglossa dilemma bee from Biscayne National Park A female Anthophora affabilis bee from Badlands National Park, South Dakota A female Andrena erythronii bee A female Eucera rosae bee from Queen Anne's County, Maryland A male Bombus bimaculatus bee from Wolf Trap National Park A Megachile fortis bee from Badlands National Park, South Dakota A female Centris species bee from the Dominican Republic

All photographs: Sam Droege and the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab 


Small Bees at Oxburgh 1

TREE POPPY Romneya coulteri

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.

Small Bees at Oxburgh 2 Small Bees at Oxburgh 3 Small Bees at Oxburgh 4 Small Bees at Oxburgh 5 Small Bees at Oxburgh 6 Small Bees at Oxburgh 7White Poppy with Bees 7


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:

  1. 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.
  2. Lavender – perennial success with bees and butterflies. More planted this spring and very well visited.
  3. 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.

Bees in Dorset Summer's End 1 Bees in Dorset Summer's End 2 Bees in Dorset Summer's End 3 Bees in Dorset Summer's End 4 Bees in Dorset Summer's End 5 Bees in Dorset Summer's End 6 Bees in Dorset Summer's End 8 Bees in Dorset Summer's End 9Blurry, 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?Bees in Dorset Summer's End 7


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’]Hyssop with Bee, Dorset

SMALL COPPER BUTTERFLYSmall Copper Butterfly, Dorset 1 Small Copper Butterfly, Dorset 2 Small Copper Butterfly, Dorset 4 Small Copper Butterfly, Dorset 5 Small Copper Butterfly, Dorset 6 Small Copper Butterfly, Dorset 7


Bumblebee Dorset - Close-upCommon Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum

COSMOS: THE FLOWER (with white-tailed bumblebee)

NOW YOU SEE IT…                 Comos, Dorset…NOW YOU DON’T                Comos & Bumblebee, Dorset