Sunday 14 April 2024

Moth light..

Day 298 #365DaysWild


Our first night for months with suitable weather for months!



Lunar marbled brown

Larval food Pedunculate oak






Coxcomb prominent

Larval food Broadleaf trees


A month early ..?






Brindled beauty 

Larval food Silver birch, Common lime, Pedunculate oak




Hebrew character 

Larval food Stinging nettle, Silver birch, Common lime, Pedunculate oak



Muslin moth

Larval food Broad-leaved dock, Red dead nettle






Grey birch

Larval food Silver birch


‘..a confined distribution in Nottinghamshire..’ Eakring Birds

Saturday 13 April 2024

‘Evereste’

Day 297 #365DayWild



Crab apple ‘Evereste’ in glorious bloom now. 

A small crab apple whose size is easily managed by pruning in August.

First admired at RHS Harlow Carr Gardens near Harrogate, Yorks. A stellar performer. 

Last year, due to frost, completely failed to crop - in common with our apples, other crabs and fig. 

But in 2022, the abundant fruits attracted many noisy and hungry fieldfares. 

Flower buds now about to break. 

Soon it will be full of nectaring pollinators. A boon for wildlife.

Friday 12 April 2024

At last, a butterfly day

Day 296 #365DaysWild


My first whitethroat’s scratchy bursts of song on the lane this morning. Welcome back!!

In the garden chiffchaff and blackcap continue to be joined by singing willow warbler. It would be quite exceptional for willow warblers to breed in the garden so I won’t build my hopes up.

And, at last, a butterfly day!

Comma, peacock, small white and orange tip on the wing.

The very warm temperatures and dry weather gave perfect conditions for nectaring and basking.

Two peacocks in the meadow - and feisty too. One saw-off a big queen bumble bee as we watched.


A small white enjoyed mums Mothers Day grape hyacinths in a pot on the terrace.

Abundant seven-spot ladybirds.

Thursday 11 April 2024

Early ..

Day 295 #365DaysWild


Early Grey moth. Not attracted to our moth light but


drawn to our faulty garage wall light where it waited this morning.


Early by name and nature. One of our earliest moths of the season.


Grey suggests full or bland- but neither with delicate patterning, especially on a ‘crisp’, newly-emerged individual.


Its larval food plants is honeysuckle of which we have plenty. There were no honeysuckle plants in the garden when we arrived.



We’d gathered juicy red seeds from the native honeysuckle that was fruiting by the footpath near Butlers Hill tram stop - then grew the seedlings onto strong young plants before planting them out.


Some of our plants have scrambled their way four metres up birch trees. Others have bulked themselves into our hedges. Great as a nectar source and their succulent berries are enjoyed by invertebrates, birds and mammals in the autumn and winter.


Subsequently we’ve added cultivars and different species to the mix for variety and colour.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Dead mans fingers..

emerging ..
Day 294 #365DaysWild

Rain greeted me this morning just as it had closed yesterday.

We are in the wettest period on record.

With temperatures higher than ever recorded.


Atmospheric pollution is now 421.9 parts per million (ppm).

The safe level is deemed 350ppm.

The pre-industrial average was 280ppm.


Discussion of climate change and its' impacts seems perfunctory at best. There are still deniers.



It is difficult not to feel bleak for now and for the generations that follow.


The government is broken, with apparently every service on its knees.


Here, Dead mans fingers fungus is emerging from some of the wood rotting in the Woodland Garden.


Fruiting fungus are fascinating and hugely diverse. This one is unique in my limited experience.


Desperate grasping fingers bringing to mind that awful scene with Glenda Jackson above the grate in the film The Music Lovers..


Our exploitation of the earth seems unstoppable. Our grasping hands wringing the life force out of nature.


A metaphor for our age?


Today feels bleak.

Monday 8 April 2024

Dark-edged

Day 292 #365DaysWild


Scooting about. High speed and nimble.

Dark-edged bee flies.

Distinctive. Not only in flight but in appearance too. An extended proboscis gives it access to pollen and nectar in deep-trumpeted flowers.


We’ve certainly seen an increase in abundance over recent years. Could that be our influence as we’ve now got plenty of cowslips, primroses and pulmonaria? 

Or could it be part of a wider increase in population?

Whatever the reason, I don’t tire of watching them.

Let’s all pause for nature!

Orange-tailed..


Day 293 #365DaysWild

That rare thing this spring - brief sun.

Busy bees in the meadow. On south-facing ground. Thinnest of soil. A sparse sward already showing seedling yellow rattle.
In low meandering flight in the company of others of her species.

Few obvious excavations. These are mining bees - 

Orange-tailed mining bees. Sometimes called the Early mining bee.

Here on dandelion flower. Known as short-tongued bees, they prefer simple flowers.

Each fertilised female will burrow into the sandy soil and lay her eggs. They are not colonial but do congregate together . They produce small ‘volcanoes’ of sand as they excavate.

I

had noticed that the bees were restricted to the meadow where there was none of the moss that had recently been brought to the surface. I spring-raked and took away the bee inhibitor.


Sunday 7 April 2024

Grovelling in gravel

Day 291 #365DaysWild


Extended family Saturday night. A meal for nine. A lot of grub to prepare and for them to eat. Young people, big appetites. And loud music too. But a 21st birthday so it must be done.

The young people walked the garden at dusk. ‘Living the dream’ one said on return.

And that’s how we feel.


But we also know that our lives may be seen as some kind of permanent community payback. Never ending hard graft.

This week is a good example.

The gravel drive for our two homes has compacted and thinned. We put down the edging and levelled and terramed and rolled and raked in 2014 under the foremanship of son Dave. 

So, sixteen tonnes of golden gravel has been ordered to celebrate its tenth birthday. And a mini-digger.

First the colossal job of hand-weeding before the gravel arrives. Stooping. Hoeing. Forking.

It’s my fault. It would be much less effort to spray the weeds to kill them. And we could be foregoing the fun we’ve had grovelling in gravel the day after a family party. 

This is new fun. Believe me.





Saturday 6 April 2024

Wildlife gold!!!

Day 290 #365DaysWild


Golden dandelions. Much maligned.
Deep-rooted lawn perennials.
Pre-digital timepieces!
And a diuretic.
You’ll wet the bed if you pick them!’


Previous generations of gardeners  (and many current ones too!) see (or saw) dandelions as the enemy. Out came the garden tools or

more perniciously the pesticides. Dr Hessayon, the doyen of lawn monoculture and author of ‘Be your own lawn expert’ led the war. I hope we’re reaching a turning point.

Dandelions are sooo important for our invertebrates. They can supply food to a number of different pollinators including bumblebees, butterflies, hover

flies, day flying moths and solitary bees.

They’re a fascinating species - or number of species and micro species. Look out for the different leaves to help identify.

If our aim as gardeners is to boost the population of invertebrates in order to boost those that depend on invertebrate food, dandelions are useful allies.

Wildlife gold!!

Friday 5 April 2024

Orchard pond

Mallards

Day 289 #365DaysWild

Garden of ten ponds’ #1

Ponds bring great richness to gardens. Thousands of ponds have been lost due to the 'improvement' of agricultural land - to the great detriment of wildlife.

Ponds don't have to be big, expensive or require muscle power.


Even small plots or balconies can find a space...

So, I thought I'd share some of my ponds...


Not in any kind of order.

When the first Home Brewery pub in Kirkby in Ashfield, Notts was levelled, the floor joists were rescued and used here…
Damselflies mating

First they were the risers on our garden steps but then I used them to make an orchard pond. Re-used decking on there too. And the last piece of pond liner.



2mx1m. 60cm deep.
Enjoyed by damselflies, owls and mallards….



Thursday 4 April 2024

Do-gooder

Day 288 #365DaysWild


One of those days that probably marks me down as some kind of do-gooder. Or tree-hugger..

First a meeting with the Sherwood Landscape Partnership to walk Bestwood Country Park at the Dynamo House. Thanks to joint vice-chair Ian Hart for opening up and getting the all-important drinks boiling!!

We took the chance to extol the excellent work of the members of the Friends of Bestwood Country Park (FoBCP) Wildlife Group. Although I gave up the chairmanship of the main Friends’ group last year I seem to have retained some of the tasks including attending meetings. In this case it was no hardship. Amused to be introduced as living in my own mini country park!

Marbled white butterfly
We formed the wildlife group because we recognised that the recording of the biodiversity of the 650 acres was being woefully-neglected. Bestwood Country Park is on reclaimed land of the former site of the Bestwood Colliery. It was only after Trees4Climate planting was initiated that we recognised that birds of prey and whinchats were using the rough grassland that would be lost under trees. RSPB Officer Carl Cornish has been especially important in facilitating the group as it has gone on to do so much good work, as has FoBCP joint vice-chair Alan Green.

We shared the recent butterfly edition of the group mini-mag 'The Dynamo' put together by Alan and Dynamo editor David then socked ‘em with the Wildlife Group newsletter and the photo ID sheet of the Butterflies of Bestwood Country Park produced from Group members’ photos. All brilliant!!!

'How can we use the
route of the pipeline for wildlife..?'
The group's volunteering to dredge years of sanitary products and wet wipes from a tributary of our River Leen went miles beyond what could be reasonably-expected and must mark them out as wildlife heroes. 

With Carl’s assistance they’ve created a butterfly transect to record the butterflies of Bestwood. This year our first marbled white!

Most-recently they have been locking horns with Severn Trent whose massive pipeline works are cutting a sorry gash across the park. Much wildlife disturbance has ensued including the destruction of a regionally-important colony of waxcap fungi. Credit here to Imogen who has given untold hours with Carl to protecting our waxcaps..

'..a bespoke luxury
residence for voles ..?'

The Sherwood Landscape Partnership also looked at the wildlife group’s innovative use of sheep fleece (which was led by Imogen) as a weed suppressant around the newly-planted edible hedge. No need for nasty glyphosate!! The fleece has also, accidentally, become a bespoke, luxury residence for voles displaced by Severn Trent! Group members Hayley & Rory spent a busy afternoon retro-fitting 500 vole guards around the recently-planted hedge.

But amongst the mud and oppressive sky I was delighted to see my first swallow of the year on the Pit Tip Top. Eagle-eyed Hayley beat me to seeing the swallow by the finest of margins!! The first record of a swallow in Nottingham this year!

Then home for a zoom meeting organised by Notts & Derbys Wildlife Trusts speaking for Friends’ groups across the two counties with the Green Party candidate for the East Midlands Mayor pressing the need for the new mayoralty to promote biodiversity. We had previously met with the Labour candidate at her request in March.

All of this when the lunar calendar said we should be planting our potatoes!

Wednesday 3 April 2024

I need a pig..

Day 287 #365DaysWild


Wood anemones are one of our prettiest. Such delicate little nodding flowers with fragile petals.

Typically they adorn the floor of native coppiced

woodland, where the soil is heavy and damp. I saw them first at Notts Wildlife Trust ancient Treswell Wood in the north of the county whilst doing the common bird census in the mid-eighties. En masse their impact stops you in your tracks.

Although they can spread by pollination and seeding .. they’re under-soil rhizomes can be distributed by panage. This is the traditional grazing of pigs in woodland.

The rootling of the pigs disturbs the anemone roots, spreading them to new locations.

Another way is to buy two plants at a garden centre, plant them with more luck than judgement, forget you’ve planted them and then subsequently glory in them after our wet weather.

Their best year yet.

Now I just need a pig…

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Carder..

Day 286 #365DaysWild


This has been a slow cold wet spring so far.


Each day is marked by rain. 

I’m reminded of a Ray Bradbury book I read decades ago about a planet where rain was continuous.

The landscape was thick jungle and algae. 

Not far from that now.


But a little sunshine today and bees around.

Fewer honey bees about since dear friends Trev and Linda reluctantly moved their hives away.

A common carder bee took a rest for the camera.


Monday 1 April 2024

Woodland Garden in spring

Day 285 #365DaysWild


The Woodland Garden is now flushing with fresh spring green.

Bee flies, solitary and bumble bees were busy on flowering anemones, pulmonaria, and primroses. 
Nest boxes have been checked.
Buzzards in display flight. Chiffchaff and blackcap. We await garden warblers.
And a solitary tree sparrow calling from over the hedge.




Sunday 31 March 2024

blackbird’s whiskers…

Day 284 #365DaysWild


Garden bird ringing today. We assist our pal Rich. He’s the trained one..

British Summer Time has arrived. The clocks ‘spring forward’ and in fog, nets up before dawn. 

Lots of blue tits. Dunnocks. Great tits. Long-tailed tits. A chiffchaff. Robins. A song thrush. Blackbirds. A good session with a number of birds being caught again, allowing us to monitor the age of our garden birds before sending the records to the British Trust for Ornithology. Forty in total.

Today’s notebook entries.

Todays wren had been first ringed by us in 2021 and so, at three years of age, was quite old for a tiny bird.

This time we didn’t catch the garden faithful such as wood pigeon, stock dove, goldfinch or coal tit. Winter migrant Siskin buzzed at us from the conifers above. Summer migrant blackcaps arrived last week and are sharing snatches of song. They stayed away too.
A birds wing feathers
help to age a bird

A special part of bird ringing is seeing the birds in the hand and marvelling at the detail of their feathering or eye colour.

Today, I was specially fascinated by the whiskers around a male blackbirds beak. They’re called rictal bristles I’m told…

I’m guessing some sensory function.

Or perhaps like my facial hair, it is used for collecting dust & fluff.