Pollinator Placement

Every June & July we offer a valuable opportunity to gain practical experience in observing, catching and identifying Bumblebees and other pollinating insect species around the National Park.

This year the placement was taken up by Ian Cole who spent five days working with our Rangers spotting Bumblebees & Butterflies and learning about their habitats.  Ian sent us some feedback on his time with our Ranger team and shared a selection of his incredible macro photographs of the species he was able to see during his time with us.

Polar Hawk Moth
© Ian Cole

Immensely enjoyable

“The time spent out in the National Park was immensely enjoyable. It was fascinating to see just how variable the plant make-up of hay meadows can be and how this, in turn, affects the number of pollinator species which are found in specific habitats. With Ranger Shaun Hackett’s help, I could see from the behaviour of some bees that they were moss carder bees (Bombus muscorum), visiting one or two flowers and then flying off. I learned to distinguish between several types of bumblebee by how they fed as well as by their shape and colouration.

The macro world which surrounds us

During the moth mornings I attended I met with several local residents who very kindly allowed me to spend time at their properties surveying the moth traps. I enjoyed sharing photographs with them and hopefully sharing some of my interest in the macro world which surrounds us. It was interesting to see how the management of fields and grass verges can have such a dramatic impact of local populations of bees, especially those which nest on the surface.

Because of my surveys with Shaun, I have found myself looking at the floral makeup of habitats around my home and I can see subtle differences between areas, just as there were in the meadows in the national park. I understand more the need for co-operation and clear communication between farmers and conservationists to try and establish best practice for habitat management in order to find the balance between productivity and conservation. It seems that often this balance can be struck through education as some farmers may not see the relevance of their actions in relation to the impact on pollinator species.

A beautiful and fascinating place

They may not see the importance of the length of time a field is grazed or the time at which it is cut in relation to the life cycles of an insect population. The Northumberland National Park is a truly beautiful and fascinating place and it has been a privilege to be allowed to visit places which I would normally not be able to. The experience will be invaluable in my studies as I continue to work towards my degree and I would dearly like to continue the association with the National Park if possible.”