What’s flowering now – Cornish clifftop

A trip to Chapel Porth on the north Cornish coast, where the wind batters anyone who meets it. Drew enjoyed the wild effect it had on his lockdown hair. I enjoyed the views but not the earache I got from the ‘sea breeze’.

I took a photo of a couple of little solitary bees hunkered down in what I thought were dandelions. The wind was shaking the flowers about violently but the bees stayed put, nestled firmly in.

Large shaggy bee

At home one of the experts on the Bees, Wasps and Ants (BWARS) Facebook group told me this was the wonderfully named ‘Large shaggy bee’ (Panurgus banksianus). A long-term monitoring project called The UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme looked at numbers of bees and hoverflies between 1980-2013 and found that the range of this species had declined by around 54%. So I was lucky to spot these beauties. The males are said to shelter in the flowers in dull weather.

They were not on dandelions as I thought but a plant called Catsear. Moira O’Donnell, the @nervousbotanist, wrote the helpful tweet below to help with ID’ing Catsear.

Moira O’Donnell tweet Catsear

From a distance I’m still not sure if these yellow flowers are dandelions or more Catsear.

Flowers behind a wall

Foxgloves at Chapel Porth

Foxgloves at Chapel Porth

The foot paths past the old mine house and along the coast take you past bright swathes of purple heather, mingled with the wizened thorns of gorse bushes. A few brave little wild flowers survive at the edges. A few bramble stems trail among the heather, but they don’t manage to take over.


Chapel Porth cliff top

Chapel Porth cliff top

It’s mad that this is only the second time I can remember seeing ladybirds this year. Tommy has learnt what ladybirds are from pictures in books. They used to be everywhere. One surreal summer when I was visiting family in Wales, a ladybird cloud was blown in on the beach and covered everything in ladybirds.

Tommy had a good time looking at bees and insects. He had an even better time later when he got an ice cream down on the beach!

Tommy looking at flowers

A little further inland on the way back to the car park was this thistle. Another successful spiky plant managing to survive the eternal wind.


About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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20 Responses to What’s flowering now – Cornish clifftop

  1. disperser says:

    That looks like a great place for walks and finding bugs and flowers (and scenery, of course). Nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Who wouldn’t love something whose official name is Large Shaggy Bee? Lovely photos – I’ll add Chapel Porth to the list of places I’d like to see some day (fingers crossed), but I’ll include a note about the wind. A very solid hat, one that has ear flaps and ties under the chin, may be in order…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Katharine says:

    Don’t they sell the ‘oyster’ there? Was that Tommy’s ice cream?


    • Emily Scott says:

      Possibly… I like the ‘hedgehog’ they do, which they’re famous for… vanilla ice cream rolled in clotted cream and hazelnuts. Tommy just had a chocolate one this weekend.


  4. hencorner says:

    It’s great that Tommy is enjoying insects! We’ve had quite a few ladybirds in London this year, which has been great for controlling the aphids! I remember a ‘cloud’ of ladybirds once – really unusual – yet unlike any other cloud of flying insects (especially ants) we delighted in them…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. thebigbuzz says:

    And as if on cue, this week is Solitary Bee Week this week – https://www.solitarybeeweek.com/about ! I’m really surprised there are so few ladybirds where you are. We can’t move for larvae, pupae and adults here in York. I hope your populations increase soon …


    • Emily Scott says:

      That’s great that you have so many! I don’t use any chemicals at all in my garden and the apple trees are often covered in aphids and yet no ladybirds. Perhaps Cornwall is too wet or windy for them.


  6. Loved the bee sheltering from the sea winds! I have yet to find out whether our yellow weed that the bees love is Catsear or some type of hawkbit. I think I would need to see both plants “live” and have someone explain the difference. Until then I will just enjoy the bees. Amelia


  7. beatingthebounds says:

    We’re on our fourth consecutive day of gales and squally showers. Most un-June like.


  8. Here on the south Devon coast I have seen both males and females sheltering in these flowers, the females with their shaggy yellow back legs. It’s a good way to get photos!


  9. Dandelions do have a few copy cats. There is one type my Chickens absolutely hate. Apparently bitter. I get the stink-eye if I slip a few in by chance!


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