Trip reports

Volunteering at Aberlady

Volunteering at Aberlady
Buff-tailed bumblebee - Rosie Filipiak

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The weather forecast was not encouraging, but five Group members joined with Ranger John Harrison and his team on Sunday April 12th for our first volunteering session at Aberlady of 2015. Removing the Sea Buckthorn is an essential part of the management procedure for the Aberlady LNR and a number of John's volunteer sessions are linked to this activity.

Today we were removing new upstart bushes which had emerged since the last session at this location over the past couple of years. Buckthorn has an extensive root system and will spring up again even when the plant and the majority of the root has been removed. So armed with mattocks, saws and spades we worked away with a couple of welcome breaks.

Migrants were just returning and sand martins were seen above the reserve along with some singing skylarks, a pair of mallard probably looking for a suitable nesting spot and a pair of greylag geese on the same quest. We also saw a grey heron as it posed beside the Marl Loch.

John highlighted to us the importance of maintaining and improving the biodiversity of the area by taking us over to a small Goat Willow. The tree was humming with bees, mainly buff-tailed bumble bees with a few red and white-tailed bees, feeding on the "pussy willow" buds. John pointed out a bee with a ginger thorax and black abdomen, tipped by a white tail, Bombus hypnorum a Tree Bumblebee, and explained that this was the first recorded sighting of this species at Aberlady & probably in East Lothian. This bee only arrived into the UK in 2001 and has steadily spread northwards. It doesn't appear to be damaging our native bee population and is a very effective pollinator, so for once is a welcome new arrival. Unusually for a bee, it nests in tree holes or bird boxes. If you believe you have this bee in your garden visit the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website and report your finding.

Our next visit to Aberlady will be Sunday 21st June, where we will be helping with a plant survey. Meet at the Wooden Bridge carpark at 9.30am.

Margaret Harrison