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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Looking Back on Xylocopa Past 1

Readers may have noticed that I from time to time back date posts. I may be borderline OCD, but I think it's important to date posts on or near the date of observation if only to create a log or diary of observational data over the months and years. Case in point is the date of emergence of male valley carpenter bees, Xylocopa varipunctata. These photos were taken today (well, not really today as I write this 12 days later, but virtually today as one will read it in the archives). I've been seeing them for about a week now, and today not only was there an unusual number of them (I counted 7 at one time in the airspace over my .13 acre property) but I also had time to try for some photos.

Carpenter bees, being bees, cannot truly hover in one place like hover flies and do not waft like butterflies and so are more a little trickier to photograph in flight. The male bees rarely alight, instead flying a tight yet eccentric zigzag pattern around their chosen territory. It's a bit frustrating since the bee does not fly away, he's still within camera range but by the time you've focused he's moved away an inch or three. Anyway, on this particular Sunday I found the time to stick with it, numbed back muscles notwithstanding, and get a few pictures to mark the 2009 male valley carpenter bee emergence with.

In the past I've noticed male X. varipunctata in flight on May 3 2006, Oct 2 2006, Mar 12 2007, and May 5 2008. I wouldn't have been able to easily get that information if my previous posts on the species weren't dated close to the observation date.

It's noteworthy to mention that this one male bee (the same guy in each of these pictures) did stop for a dozen heartbeats or so on a branch.

Other than that brief pitstop seen in this photo (you'll need to click on it to make it large enough to discern), he spent the time I was watching patrolling the ozothamnus by the mailbox and the hypericum balearicum, another blooming shrub in the garden not mentioned before on this blog, but one that has interesting bark, strange smelling leaves and blooms off and on most of the year. I'll make a point of putting up its picture on some post in the future or the past.


Cindy said...

This post shows up as a new item on Google Reader, but then I need to come to your blog and hunt for it to see the pictures. (I don't know why I can't see your pics through Google Reader. I see most everybody else's).

Anyway, I figured out a while ago that you back-date some posts, so I usually find them with no problem.

Great shots, BTW. I saw a couple of those guys at the arboretum the other week (or did I see the same one 2 days in a row??) and they/he were/was doing a pretty good job of staying relatively still, but I didn't have my camera with me.

Steve D said...

beautiful critter. I had an encounter today while on my cell phone I heard what sounded like a B-29 bomber buzzing up from behind me and saw the shadow on ground nearing my head. Quickly turned to see this giant I thought to be "Mothra" from the Godzilla series and flailed my arms and smacked it with my cell phone hard enough I thought it cracked my phone. Well, I felt kinda bad for the dive bomber as he layed buzzing a bit on his back. I waited and even blocked a little traffic to aid him in turning over and back on his feet, then after preflight inspections were complete is when he took off into sunset. Only thing I could figure is I was wearing olive green scrubs and may have mistaken me for a tree, or 200lb flower to pollinate. Have pic I would love to share.