Periodically, I need to visit Astley Ainslie hospital with a pair of right shoes and it’s an opportunity for a cycle ride with camera in saddlebag. Today I visited Blackford Pond where, as a couple of young(ish) newly-weds, we occasionally visited and there was a family of rather attractive rats; we have very fond memories of sitting on the wall in the sunshine watching their comings and goings. That was all a long time ago; today, that little area is a mini nature reserve-come-adventure-playground for small children - complete with a boggy bit where they can get covered in mud.
In there, I found a clump of snowdrops still in bud while ours at home are just about over and, a yard away was this sunbathing ladybird. Like the many queen bumblebees that I have been seeing enjoying the warm weather, she is most likely doomed. Winter is probably not yet over, and food is still in short supply.
My beloved honey bees are a different matter as they don’t hibernate. On warm days they will fly to go to the toilet and will take pollen from the early flowers: Snowdrops and crocuses come to mind, but there are also gorse and pussy willow and many other wild flowers that need the pollinators. The bees are already thinking about summer and the need for a youthful working population, and they are raising young brood in anticipation. They should have plenty of honey stored their energy but the pollen, which provides the protein to build young bodies doesn’t keep well – even though it is pickled in honey, so a little fresh pollen is very welcome. They will quite happily forage on sunny days like this knowing that they have a nice warm hive waiting for them when it cools down in the evening.