LIVING in Clackmannanshire, one doesn’t really need to venture any further than the back garden to experience some really fascinating wildlife – as I so found last week.

The first surprise was an unusual looking bumblebee feeding in amongst my garden flowers.

It was quite like any other bumblebee I had seen before with a warm brown back and a blackish tail with a pale tip.

It was a tree bumblebee and a recent coloniser to Scotland, with the first ones only being recorded here in 2013.

Anthony McCluskey of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust tells me that they are now common in several parts of the central belt of Scotland, having moved in from the south.

These bees are highly active and effective pollinators. Their colonies are usually found well above ground level and they will often use bird-boxes to nest in.

Another most interesting insect also made an appearance last week in my garden. It was pretty large with a dark thorax and abdomen, and a large pale band across the body.

My first thought was that this was some type of bumblebee hitherto unknown to me.

But a search of my reference books revealed this to be a great pied hoverfly – one of the UK’s largest flies.

The female hoverfly lays her eggs in underground wasp nests, with her hatched larvae eating waste products and wasp larvae.

And my hat trick of unusual garden visitors was completed by a nuthatch.

Similar to a small dumpy woodpecker, I now see this delightful bird almost every day.

Like the tree bumblebee, it too is a southern coloniser, first appearing in Scotland about 20 or so years ago.

A sign, perhaps, of our warming climate? I suspect it is.