31 August 2018

Spring Flowers

I haven't gone to see the spring flowers on the west coast in a long time. The Western Cape has been experiencing a harsh drought in recent years, but this year we received slightly better rain. So, I thought I would take a chance on some spring flowers.

Spring flowers at the West Coast National Park

We were not disappointed. It was a beautiful sunny and windless day.

The ground was covered in flowers

The birds were enjoying the show.

Black-Headed Heron (Swartkopreier - Ardea melanocephala) hunting amongst the flowers, also enjoying the view I'm sure

The animals were feeling frisky.

A Cape Mountain Zebra (Kaapse Bergsebra - Equus zebra zebra) behaving like an ass

But the most interesting surprise of the trip was brought to us curtsy of the insects.

With all the flowers around the bees were bound to be having a great time

I had my window open while driving and every now and again some small bees would get sucked into the car, zipping right by my ear.

Stopping at a lookout point, I decided to roll open the rear window for the bees to get out. It was then that I noticed that these bees look a bit different to the usual honey bees. I decided to snapped a few photos before setting them free.

This is a type of Mining Bee

I've been enjoying iNaturalist a lot recently, so the next day I decided to upload the photograph of the bee to the website, hoping to find out more about it. (See the observation over here.)

I was lucky, and the observation caught the eye of an iNaturalist user that was able to identify the bee as part of the Andrena genus. Thanks to him (and I guess me for uploading the observation in the first place) this turned out to be the first observation on iNaturalist of the Andrena genus in sub-Saharan Africa!

Sure, it is likely that somebody else has uploaded one of these bees to iNaturalist before, but this is a great example of how valuable the people are that help identify the observations. There is no way I'm able to tell on my own that this is a type of Mining Bee, yet thanks to international experts like this, who identifying observations by normal citizens like me, we can both help contribute to science and conservation - and in doing so have a lot of fun in the process. I've learnt a ton of fascinating new things since joining iNaturalist. Really exiting stuff!