spotted this ruby-tailed wasp climbing up the kitchen
window yesterday morning. It was continually active, making short flights.
I caught it in a bug box and attempted to photograph it (the blur
on the far right of the photogaph!) but didn't keep it too long as
it gave the impression of having urgent business it needed to get back
Chinery's Collins Guide to Insects identifies it as
Cleptes fulgida; it's the blue area at the front of the abdomen
that distinguishes it from related species. This wasp is parasitic on
digger and mason wasps (although it's mason bees that we find digging
in the soft lime mortar of our house wall). He describes it as rare in
Britain and of southern distribution but the book is dated 1986 so it
might well have spread in last 20 years.
been looking back over old sketchbooks while preparing my garden book
and noticed a drawing (left) of a bare, rubbish-strewn spit of
silt on the river. Today it's jungly with tall vegetation including 'canal
grass' (Phalaris), Himalayan balsam and what looks like oil seed
rape, the seeds of which might have been washed down from the riverside
fields upstream. There's hardly room for fisherman or bird amongst the
The river is rather low and trails of white foam are prominent against
the dark waters.
Richard Bell, firstname.lastname@example.org