This Saturday saw 10 of us walking 10 km round the RSPB nature reserve at Dungeness to raise money for the birds and the bees – Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the RSPB! We were lead by Dr Nikki Gammans, who is “in charge” of the Shorthaired Bumblebee Reintroduction Project. Dungeness is in Kent and is a National Nature Reserve, Special Protection Area, and a Special Area of Conservation. It also contains 600 species of plants which is a third of all plants found in the UK and many migratory birds arrive here every year.
We set off on our walk at 12.45 from The Visitor Centre on a beautiful warm sunny day and returned by 4 pm – a long walk which also combined taking records of the bees we encountered on the way and the wildflowers they were spotted on. Occasionally Nikki would swoop down on one with a net and put it in a tube to have a proper look at it and then it would be released to go about its business. We recorded rare moss carder bees, honey bees, red-tailed bees, cuckoo bees – and they are only the ones I can remember! Didn’t spot any Shorthaired Bumblebees, which was a shame. Many of the bees were feeding on Red Clover (of which Dungeness is awash), Birdsfoot Trefoil and Ragwort.
The scenery at Dungeness is amazing. It is full of lakes and wildflowers and, of course, many bird species. The Visitor Centre is well worth a visit as well as walking the trails across the reserve. The Centre has boards with details of all the latest bird sightings, there is a shop to buy bird stuff, clothing and binoculars, and panoramic windows with telescopes allow close-up observation of the birds across one of the lakes. Hides are also dotted around for further bird watching.
Between us we raised over £800, which is great! Below are photos from the day.
We also found an interesting bee with a yellow tail and Nikki thought it was a cuckoo (either Bombus campestris or B. sylvestris). However on closer inspection it had a long face (unusual of cuckoos, which are short and chubby). She wrote to Dr Paul Williams of Natural History Museum and he confirmed a male Bombus hortorum, the humble garden bumblebee. However, Nikki had never previously seen one with a yellow tail- so quite unusual but apparently not uncommon!
Once back at the Visitor Centre, tea, coffee and cake was the order of the day, and a stall had been set up to raise further funds for the two charities.
You can find further information on Dungeness’s unique habitat at Dungeness National Nature Reserve.
For more information on the Shorthaired Bumblebee Reintroduction Project, please visit their website.
Photos by kind permission of Dr Nikki Gammans.
Any comments or queries on bees most welcome!
Written by Teresa Sinclair