Eye on Nature: First bumblebees of the year are out of hibernation

Your notes and queries for Eanna Ní Lamhna

Eoin O’Flynn spotted these partially opened queen scallops on Seapoint beach in Termonfeckin, Co Louth.

There was an abundance of these shellfish on Seapoint beach at Termonfeckin, Co Louth, on December 27th. Most were partially open and closed promptly when picked up! We walk the beach most days and this is the first time we have seen so many in this open state. – Eoin O Flynn

They are queen scallops, which are smaller than St James scallop. They live on the extreme lower shore and in deeper water. These have just recently been washed up and are still alive if they close promptly. They can swim very actively by flapping their shells.

These are busy on the shrubs at work since January 11th. And more than one of them! – Gary Cooke

Gary Cooke saw white-tailed bumblebees on mahonia.
Jim Egan saw a white-tailed bumblebee on his cyclamen.

White-tailed bumblebee queens are the first bumblebees of the year out of hibernation, and this mahonia with its yellow flowers is providing food. Jim Egan saw one in December on his cyclamen. It is very early even for both these species, Bombus terrestris and B. lucerum. The temperature was up to two degrees above normal in December and above average too for the first half of January which was also very sunny. Bees need useful flowers like these to stop them from starving – not daffodils and tulips that have neither pollen nor nectar.


Primroses in flower in north Co Dublin on January 15th. – M Maloney

M Maloney spotted these very early-flowering primroses in north Co Dublin.

It’s very early for primroses as well. While the National Biodiversity Data centre have received records of wild primroses for every month of the year, the bulk of them are sent in during March and April.

Saw these two ducks in a car park this week. What are they? – William Telford

A pair of Muscovy ducks spotted by William Telford.

They are Muscovy ducks, generally kept as domestic fowl, but some have become feral and are established in the wild.

John Glynn sent in this lovely picture of a barn owl out hunting in west Clare.

John Glynn’s photo of a barn owl hunting in west Clare.

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