2018 in Trees

It might sound simple, but trees are without doubt one of the things which makes me happiest in this world. Their architectural limbs during winter; that joyous first flush of green in the springtime; the cacophony of life they support in the summer and the glowing hues of autumn – all through the year they can lift the spirit into their boughs. Here are a few of my favourite photographs from 2018.

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This photograph shows the veins in a lime seed wing with the tree in the background – I love the echo beteen the parent tree and the wing which will take its tiny progeny to a new place to germinate.
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We walked the Peddar’s Way in spring this year – from Thetford all the way to the coast at Holme next the Sea. The green tracks with overarched by mature trees were a joy to walk beneath.
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Another photograph taken along the Peddar’s Way – I love the imagery of the broadleaf trees with lances drawn against the arrayed army of conifers in the plantation; however these are more likely a stress response to the intense shading of the industrial plantation.
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Scilly is one of the places in the UK where elms have held out against Dutch Elm disease – likely primarily due to their relative isolation from the mainland. This was taken of young growth in the centre of St Mary’s
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This photograph was taken in mid-summer but the fallen lime wings made it look as though autumn had come early. This green arched footpath leads down towards Sedgewick Meadows in Grantham
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Limes seem to have figured highly in my photographs this year – this is a lime avenue in a Northamptonshire Estate where we undertook tree climb & inspect surveys one misty morning in autumn
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One of my favourite trees in Richmond Park which brings back memories of my dissertation there many years ago – the Royal Oak is estimated to be 750 years old!
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The silver birch is a typical pioneer tree species of Sherwood, well suited to the sandy, heathy soils. These were taken as the bracken leaves browned in November.
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Whilst obviously not a fan of the inert conifer plantations which pass for ‘woods’ in too many places, there is an undeniable beauty to their straight, uniform structures especially when the light is right!

 

 

2018 in Wildflowers

As anybody who follows my twitter feed will know, wildflowers are a constant source of inspiration and fascination for me. Here are a few of my favourite finds from 2018

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This tiny forget-me-not is called changing forget-me-not because of the way the petal colour changes as the flowers mature – they start off yellow/cream and brighten to blue in time
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Red campion is a common wildflower in the midlands, especially in shady habitats like hedgerows and woodland edges. It can be a beautifully architectural plant
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Wood sorrel is a woodland wildflower of early spring – this was taken in the Quantock Hills in a pine plantation.
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Wood anemone are a characteristic indicator of ancient woodland – spreading at a rate of only a few metres per year, they are testement to the continuity of the habitat
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Green winged orchids are one of the first to flower in the spring – I am lucky enough to live very close to Muston Meadows which has a stunning display each year
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An ancient woodland in South Wales rewarded me with herb paris this year – the first time I’ve seen this species in perfect flower in the UK
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Pasque flowers are a real rarity these days, but are emblamatic enough to be the designated County Flower of two different counties in England. This one taken at Barnack Hills and Holes NNR
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A sea of English Bluebells with a mighty fallen oak branch to lend character to the sunlit scene
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Oxlip is one of our rarest wildflowers – the ancient woodland of Hayley Wood near Cambridge is one of the best places to enjoy them amongst the bluebells
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There can be few sights more synonymous with springtime that the white of greater stitchwort and the bright blue of the bluebell amongst the fresh green leaves
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The limestone grasslands which punctuated the Peddar’s Way in May rewarded us with these salad burnet – tiny red stars set within a globular flower head
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A trip to see the fly orchids in Bedford Purleius NNR has become something of an annual tradition now – they never fail to delight!
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A new species for me this year and a wonderful treasure hunt to find it – violet helleborine in Bedford Purleuis NNR
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Small but stunning – the arable flora on St Mary’s, Scilly away from the industrial scale agriculture of the mainland meant a host of scarce arable wildflowers persist, such as this small-flowered catchfly
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Yellow bartsia – a relative of yellow rattle and eyebright – was another first for me on the Isles of Scilly
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Pale toadflax established on a railway arch near the Thames
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Black nightshade is a member of the same family as potato and tomato and could be found flowering right up until Christmas!
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Wild snake’s head fritillaries flowering in Portholme Meadow, Huntingdon
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Cowslips flowering along the cycle path which passes along the Grantham Canal in early springtime
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Harebell flowering in the dry grasslands in the meadows above Grantham
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Early purple orchid amongst the bluebells and greater stitchwort flowers in a woodland edge in Lincolnshire

2018 in Insects

This is a quick roundup of some of my favourite insect encounters of 2018 – there are some beautiful and highly varied species in the UK which reward the close observer!

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These are variously known as feather-footed or hairy-footed flower bee and are one of the first species to appear in the spring. The males are females are a dark black whilst the males are a rusty brown and spend much of their time searching out females to mate with – a female happily feeding on a flower will often have 2-3 males hovering at a not-so-discreet distance waiting to pounce when they think the moment is right!
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Common blue butterflies at Holwell Nature Reserve (Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust)
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A dead bumblebee at Bedford Purleis NNR which has been found by a party of wood ants who were very slowly transporting it back to their nest
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An enormous roman snail at Aston Clinton Ragpits – these are the largest snails in the UK and are around the size of a golf ball!
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Bee flies are excellent bumblebee mimics which appear early in the season – they parasitise the nests of solitary bees by flicking their eggs into the entrance hole. This one is hovering at a garlic mustard flower to feed.
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Hornets may have a fearsome reputation but they are quite charming creatures up close – this one was trapped overnight and needed a sweet treat to help it back on its way the next day!
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This year saw temperatures remain relatively mild all the way through to December – this wasp was photographed on ivy flowers just 12 days before Christmas!
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With its mottled green and white underwings, the orange-tip butterfly is beautifully camouflaged on a cow parsley flower to spend the night
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This amazing wasp had captured a spider, removed its legs and was busy taking it back to its nest sight – a rather grusome but truly impressive sight!
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This common blue butterfly was settled on a dandelion clock to wait out a rain shower along the Peddar’s Way
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A cockchafer beetle – just about to take flight – in this photo it has just opened its wing-casings to reveal the wings beneath
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A red-tailed bumblebee male leaving a knapweed flower
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A marbled white settled amongst the dry grasses of a mid-summer meadow
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A cinnebar moth amongs the grass in early summer
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A devil’s coachorse – these ground beetles will raise their tail to threaten any intruder in a quite convinving show of bravado!
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A small copper settled on a yarrow flower in early autumn
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Mother shipman moth feeding in a sheltered valley just north of Grantham which is swathed in species-rich limestone grassland flowers
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Memories of summer lunchtime walks in the meadows above Grantham – the long drought gave the grasslands a parched appearance but they were still buzzing with life including this leafcutter bee
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Pollinators beware – you’d need to be on high alert to spot this beautifully camouflaged spider lying in wait on a yarrow flower!

 

Christmas Special – Mistletoe

Along with the holly and the ivy, mistletoe is one of those species which is intimately associated with the festive season. You might almost say it is a hemi-parasite on the cultural Christmas tree…

A small group of us undertook some voluntary tree climb surveys in Clumber Park before Christmas 2018 to look for roosting bats. One of the  trees which I climbed was an old lime set amongst younger trees and this had some beautiful examples of mistletoe right in the top of the crown. It seemed a good opportunity to share some photos and ecological insights into this fascinating plant.

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The lime tree holdings its territory against the younger tree stock crowding around – the mistletoe is visible at the top of the tree

Mistletoe is a obligate hemi-parasite – it is only found growing attached to trees. This is because it is partially reliant on the tree for sustenance – it taps into the xylem system of the tree to source water and soil minerals. It does however phytosynthesise itself which makes it only a half or partial (hemi) rather than full parasite.

Mistletoe does not have roots, rather it grows on the surface of the branch and encourages the tree to grow around it. This gives the illusion of it penetrating the bark to reach into the branch and take its sustenance, but the truth is much less aggressive.

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A new mistletoe sprig establishing at the top of the lime tree

The main ‘mistletoe’ heartland in the UK is the south-west midlands – this is particularly around Herefordshire, Somerset, Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire and up as far as Warwickshire. It is however found sporadically in many other locations around the country – close to Grantham, the village of Bottesford seems to be unusually well covered. The origins of these more isolated pockets of mistletoe is often unclear, but many old parklands and country estates tried to establish colonies in the past and it may be that these give rise to local populations away from their stronghold. Given the history of Clumber, this might be a good explanation for the colony I found!

Mistletoe expresses a significant preference for some tree species over others – cultivated apple is the most well-recorded host with lime (like the Clumber tree) coming in second. Other species include hawthorn, poplar, maple, and willow. They have however been recorded on hundreds of tree hosts and some have particular cultural significance – mistletoe growing on oak was the centrepiece of a Celtic religious ceremony.

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Mistletoe berries like pearls amongst the leaves – although these look ripe, they won’t in fact be ready until the early springtime

Most fruit and berry-bearing species in the UK owe a debt to wild birds who disperse the seeds, but mistletoe has a particular reliance upon them. Some species, such as the aptly named mistle thrush, will eat the seeds and excrete them again – often whilst perched on a branch. Not only does this deliver the berries right to the branches but it comes with its own ‘glue’ in the form of the droppings, to help hold the seed in place whilst they develop. Other species such as blackcap wipe the seeds from their beak directly onto the tree – a cleaning action which is coincidentally very likely to deliver the seed to an ideal spot for germination.

This means of spreading seed is the reason for the common name of mistletoe – ‘mistle’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon word for dung and ‘tan’ derives from the word for twigs. The latin is Viscum album – the album meaning ‘white’ and relating to the colour of the berries.

Small patches of mistletoe often go un-noticed or overlooked – either because it is concealed by the dense leaf cover of its host tree, or because people are simply not looking up and around to spot it. Winter is an ideal time to spot this fascinating species – keep your eyes skywards and look out for the characteristic globes of vegetation suspended bauble-like in the branches!

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Mistletoe high in the lime tree in the late afternoon sunlight

If you want to find out more about mistletoe – its ecology, natural history, cultural significance, distribution and commercial importance – I would highly recommend reading Jonathan Briggs’ Mistletoe Diary blog!

 

 

Thermal Imaging footage of Honeybees and Bumblebees

Thermal imaging technology works by recording the infra-red energy emitted from surfaces – this doesn’t rely on a light source like typical infra-red photography, but instead measures the radiation given off by both living an inanimate objects. The camera can measure the temperature of these items and display a ‘thermal’ image which shows the gradation and variation between different objects within the field of view. In simple terms – it can show a hot object as white/red whilst cooler objects would be shown as green or blue.

In mid-summer, social bees produce a high density of very busy insects in the nest, so it was no surprise that they stand out a mile on a thermal camera! It was also exciting to be able to understand what individual bees had been doing – for example their temperature signature differentiated those who had recently returned to the nest from those who were standing guard and checking in new arrivals.

Wild Honey Bee Nest

We often encounter honey bees when out looking for tree roosting bats in woodland and this was a prime example! Whilst honey bees are often kept in hives, they can establish wild colonies in features such as this.

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Showing the tree cavity feature where the honey bee nest was located

I took the following images around sunset so the tree itself was cooling but you can immediately see just how hot the inside of this tree cavity is compared with the surrounding wood. The temperature reading inside the nest was 33 degrees Celsius, whilst the surrounding tree barn dropped to around 25 degrees.

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A still photograph of the bees within the nest – you can see the differential in heat between the nest itself (yellow) and the outer wood (black). You can also see a recently-returned bee glowing white hot!

Even at sunset, honey bee workers were still returning to the nest and you can see the white-hot glow of these warmer bees compared with the much cooler bees at the entrance. What is also interesting is the pattern of heat in these recently-flown bees – the flight muscles are in the thorax where the wings are attached and this part is much hotter than the abdomen as you can see more clearly in the video below.

The thermal image gave a nice opportunity to watch guard behaviour in action – some honey bees will take the roll of guarding the nest entrance, positioning themselves on the edge and checking returning bees to ensure that they are welcome. The thermal footage clearly differentiates those bees who have recently flown from those which have not, and you can see the much cooler guard bees intercepting the warmer returning workers as they pass by.

If you’re interested in guard behaviour, you might also like this post from a couple of years ago regarding this behaviour in hornets!

Bumblebee Nest

These images and videos come from a bumblebee nest which was situated underneath a loose cobble in the courtyard of our office.

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The stone beneath which the bumblebee nest is situated

I think the bumblebees are either white-tailed (Bombus lucorum) or buff-tailed (Bombus terrestris) bumblebees – this photo shows one of the worker bees returning with well laden pollen baskets.

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Bumblebee worker returning to the nest with well-laden pollen baskets.

The thing that I found most surprising on the thermal footage to see just how hot this cobble got compared with those around it, even though the nest is buried beneath! I assume this is due to the heat rising with the warm air from the next and heating the stone as it passed by.

As with the honey bees, you can see how much warmer the active bumblebees are compared with their environment. Bumblebees have a good degree of control over their temperature. The hairs on their body provide some insulation and they can use their flight muscles – uncoupled temporarily from their wings – to warm themselves up before taking off. This uses the same technique as they use for buzz-pollination of some flowers. This video gives an idea of just how much heat these muscles can generate, allowing some bumblebees to remain active through the winter, flying at temperatures of just 10 degrees Celcius. You can read more about bumblebee thermoregulation here!

Grantham Verges in Bloom

The verges around Grantham in 2018 are markedly different to previous years – this is a result of the council’s decision to reduce amenity cutting to twice a year, down from the previous seven cuts per year. The result of this cost-saving exercise is that the verges throughout the town are more alive with flowers and insects than they have been in years and I for one am delighted with the effect!

Purple toadflax flowering beside the zebra crossing in Grantham

 

At a time when the many scientists, ecologists and wildlife experts are sounding alarm bells over the catastrophic declines in many of our native species, and the dire threat of our falling pollinator numbers, the unintended consequence of cutting the cutting is the creation of wildflower corridors and habitat which lace their way through the town.

One of the hawkweed species flowering in the road verge in Grantham

Whilst I am wholeheartedly in favour of the new regime, I’ve seen comments from a people complaining about the effect – these comments generally fall into three categories:

The first is safety – and I agree that where the height of the vegetation represents an issue for visibility, especially around schools, then there is no question that this needs to be addressed. But these spots are the exceptions, not the rules, and many areas of town can happily support longer verges with no risk to passers by or vehicle users.

The second is the tidiness and neatness – there is an aesthetic which says that an unmowed verge is a sign that the town isn’t being looked after. This too is understandable, but it is also very cultural and very changeable – the concept of Obsessive Tidiness Disorder is very well addressed in this blog post. We have become so accustomed to nature being managed and manicured on a wholesale basis that this is the normal, and deviation from it is considered a drop in standards. But we have come a long way in the last century to a place where a council is expected to expend vast amounts of money to maintain an aesthetic which is so entirely detrimental to the huge host of species which would otherwise call it home. I would challenge anybody to read this piece about the death of a Cornish hedgerow in an age of mass mechanised maintenance and not feel horrified at what we have lost.

The aesthetic which likes a well-managed verge is now the norm, but councils around the country are adopting more wildlife-friendly cutting regimes and if these become more widespread, then expectations will shift and this perception will soon die away. Flowers provide food for insects which in turn provides food for swifts and swallows which are continuing to decline in numbers and will soon be an absent sound from our summer if steps are not taken to address this. It would be great to see the council really embrace the positives of the change to grass cutting regimes rather than simply defending it as an unfortunate necessity – be bold and be ahead of the curve! We would have support and help from the likes of Plantlife and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust – both of whom understand the importance of verges as habitat and have designed campaigns to change perceptions and behaviours.

Three species flourishing thanks to the reduced cutting of the verges – purple toadflax, creeping cinquefoil and yarrow

The third reason people object seems to be the species which appear – people have commented that it would be OK ‘if they were nice wildflowers’. The plethora of garden flowers which we’re used to, and to some extent the highly vibrant but unnatural annual mixes which some councils sow, are affecting expectations of what our native flora look like. As well as the showy orchids and exuberant vetches are smaller, more subtle species but they are equally beautiful if you take the time to look. The verges are also full of surprises – Ancaster has a population of one of the rarest orchids in the country on its road verges and who knows what might pop up when given a chance. Even the most seemingly mundane flowers can surprise you – some of the yellow dandelion-like flower heads around town are indeed the familiar dandelions, but there are also closely related hawkbits, hawkweeds and nipplewort which you may never even have noticed.

Ribwort plantain, cow parsley and common mallow flowering beside the roads in Grantham

On a lunchtime walk today I counted eighteen species of wildflower in just a short stretch and I am sure there are many more besides. Many of these are not rarities, but they are bright and colourful and provide life for so many bees, butterflies and hoverflies. A few are pictured in this post – see which ones you can spot on your next walk around town!

Nipplewort, white clover and dove’s foot cranesbill – a tiny member of the geranium family, flowering on the uncut verges of Grantham

30 Days Wild 2018

It’s once again that summer month when everybody is encouraged and excused to take a moment out of their busy days to do something wild – the aptly named 30 Days Wild.

The Wildlife Trust team behind 30 days wild have generated a wealth of ideas and inspirations to help people to connect with nature during June, as well as welcoming the vast array of individual ways which people find themselves.

You can get involved too through the Wildlife Trust’s Facebook Page, Twitter Page or Website. The website has much more info on 30 Days Wild, including the opportunity to sign up, download wallcharts and Random Acts of Wildness Cards (little flashcards which give you hints and inspiration) or to share your adventures on social media.

I’ll be posting my daily wild-fix on this page throughout the month so watch this space!


Day 1: 1st June 2018

It was a day spent in the office writing and thinking about ecology in the abstract, but lunchtime is a time to get out in nature for real!

The Hills and Hollows above Grantham is a cracking little grassland with some calcareous specialist wildflowers which are appearing by the day right now!

I spent a while watching the red-tailed bumblebee workers enjoying the mouse-ear hawkweed with their lemon-yellow dandelion-like flowers.

There was a little nomad bee digging deep as well – these little bees are nest parasites of solitary bees and look like tiny wasps to a casual observer.

One of my favourite meadow flowers had also appeared – salad burnet has both male and female flowers which are very distinctive – the male flowers hang low like catkins whilst the females are the tiny red frilly flowers on the same head.

Other new arrivals included common rockrose with their broad yellow flowers low amongst the sward.

I’ll certainly be back for more to see what else is out and about before #30dayswild is over – bee orchids and southern marsh yet to appear!


Day 2: 2nd June 2018

A day spent in the allotment which, thanks to its location beside a hedge and a river which runs through the village, is a lovely spot to listen to birdsong and watch the world pass through.

However behind the idyllic facade, there is an amphitheater of action on a tiny scale – we watched wolf spiders skittering across the bare soil in hunt of prey, veracious ladybird larvae devouring aphids and nomad bees searching out the nests of ground-nesting mining bees to parasitise.

The most impressive, but gruesome, sight was this spider-hunting wasp which had snipped the legs off its captor and was bravely carrying away a prize bigger than itself!

Another impressive visitor was this ichneumon wasp which hung around a while in the sunshine before heading off.

If you spend some time out and about, nature is always keen to come out and meet you!


Day 3 – 3rd June 2018

We started off in the morning with a few hours down at the allotment again – we’re lucky to have a fair few frogs on the plot, hiding under every leaf it seems and this one hopped out from under the rhubarb. Frogs are fantastic allies in an allotment or garden, having a taste for those creatures which have a taste for your crops!

In the afternoon we went to help out at my parents’ open garden – they are the reason for my love of gardening and growing your own vegetables and their garden is quite a work of art! However so much of the planting and the design is geared towards wildlife with native and pollinator-friendly species, log piles, a frog-filled pond and nest boxes for birds and bees. My role was manning the plant sales – altogether we raised £174 for the Nottinghamshire WIldlife Trust Badger Vaccination Scheme.

Back home to plant out some selfheal seedlings in the lawn (trying to make our lawn a little wilder than the rather neat grass-dominated entity we inherited from the last owners) and then contributing to #wildflowerhour in the evening and seeing what the community had seen this week. A few sample tweets below!


Day 4 – 4th June 2018

Have you noticed a high-pitched buzzing when you walk past wild roses? It sounds a little like a bumblebee has got stuck but in fact they are intentionally deploying their ‘buzz pollinating’ technique. This involves them clasping the anthers between their legs, holding their bodies against them, and using their strong flight muscles to vibratetheir entire body causing the rose to release its pollen. Few pollinators have the size, strength and power to do this and this helps with the specificity of pollination.

I’ve seen this many times but never captured any video so I headed down to Grantham Cemetery to get a video clip of the behaviour. The cemetary was looking stunning – filled with ox-eye daisies and other wildflowers – sadly this was the last time it would be so as by my next visit, the council’s mowing gang had reduced the entire site to clippings.


Day 5 – 5th June 2018

The day started wading through head-height grass and nettles to reach a pond to collect in newt traps set the night before. Amongst the newts were some greater diving beetles – ferocious aquatic predators which hunt the depths!

On my way into the office (and to avoid hitting the schools traffic at 8:30!) I called in at a local calcareous grassland to visit the man orchids once more – these are nearing the most northerly tip of their distribution here in Grantham and are quite a rarity! It’s easy to see how they get thier name…

The calcareous grassland had a few more treats in store as well – abundance of common rock rose and one of my favourite wildflowers – bladder campion.

At lunchtime I took a walk up to the Hills and Hollows and was pleased to find some of these hoverflies – Merodon equestris – foraging on the hogweed. This is known as the narcissus bulb fly, and is a good mimic of bumblebees. However with its big furry rugged shoulders, it reminded me more of a minature hyena, there wassomething of a malevolent presence around this impressive hoverfly!

I also saw my first large skipper of the year – resting amongst the grasses. This species appears before the small and Essex skippers which will be on the wing in the next few weeks.

And finally, just to round off, I finally found the southern marsh orchids in flower on the plateux – I stumbled across this little colony during #30dayswild last year and have been awaiting their return! Still no sign of the bee orchids…


Day 6 – 6th June 2018

A lunchtime walk rewarded me with more hoverflies and butterflies and I was pleased to get some slow motion footage of this hoverfly – the incredibly good bumblebee mimic which is Volucella bombylans var. plumata. This species buzzes, flies, feeds and looks just like a bumblebee but features such as the eyes, the single pair of wings (as opposed to the two in hymenoptera such as bumblebees) and the tongue give it away. This amazing species comes in two varieties – this one is mimicing the black, white and yellow varieties such as white tailed, buff tailed and garden bumblebee, but I have seen them flying alongside another form of the same species which does an equally good job of mimicing a red-tailed bumblebee!

I posted this video on twitter and instagram with a quiz to identify the species – many recognised this as a hoverfly but it certainly tricked a few people!


Day 7 – 7th June 2018

A lunchtime walk up to the Hills and Hollows above Grantham rewarded me with some beautiful butterflies and dayflying moths. We may not have the variety which grace tropical regions, but these three individuals do a good job of showing some of the distinct and attractive species we get in the UK!


Day 8 – 8th June 2018

The day began in the trees where we were climbing using arboricultural techniques to check potential roosting features for bats. We ascend to the features – such as knot holes, woodpecker holes, failed hazard beams and splits – to assess their suitability and to see if anybody is at home! No bats this time but it always feels great to be up in the canopy!

On the way back, I called in at Holwell Quarry – a Leicestershire Wildlife Trust reserve – to have a hunt for bee orchids – allegedly this reserve has the largest population in the county! I didn’t find a single one (still!) but it was good to see all of the common spotted orchids coming into bloom!


Day 9 – 9th June 2018

I put the trail camera out a few days ago, by the river which runs through the village, to see what uses the trail. I had hoped for badgers, but the camera footage still showed a few species including fox, hedgehog and bank vole, along with wood pigeon and blackbird.


Day 10 – 10th June 2018

After finishing off Robin Kimmerer’s excellent exploration of the cultural and ecological significance of mosses – Gathering Moss – it was an afternoon spent in the garden with a few more native and pollinator-friendly species joining the borders. One small but beautiful visitor to the garden was this mint moth – a fan of (surprise surprise!) mints, along with other members of the deadnettle family.

On a trip to Thistleton nursery (highly recommended!), we also called into Cribbs Meadow to see a few of the common spotted orchids, before horseflies chased us away!

In the evening it was time once more to catch up with what the twitter community have been finding in bloom this week – here are a few of my highlights!


Day 11 – 11th June 2018

There has been a significant reduction in the cutting regime in Grantham this year, after the number of ‘amenity cuts’ was reduced from 7 a year to just 2. Whilst there is surely still so much more which could be done to allow our verges to flourish, this reduction has resulted in a plethora of wildflowers within the town which is great news for biodiversity.

I went out at lunchtime to see what i could find, and wrote up a blog post to celebrate the mini strips of habitat which have sprung up from the inert short-mown grasses which we take so much for granted. There are a number of voices who are ‘disgusted’ by the state of the verges in the town and whilst everyone is entitled to their opinion, I wanted to contribute a positive response to the new regime!

A link to the blog post can be found here.


Day 12 – 12th June 2018

The grasses are most definitely in flower right now, as my hayfever attests to, but despite the snuffles, there are some stunning flowers out there!

Grasses can be a tricky group to identify in the middle of the winter, but the flower spikes at this time of year really help to reveal the different species.

Pictured below are two which were looking particuarly stunning first thing as the sun was breaking through – cock’s foot and crested dog’s tail.