Cheshire Garden Bioblitz

A week last Friday I got the chance of taking part in Chris Packham’s bioblitz in North Wales.  It was a fantastic campaign which showed that nature reserves are not enough for wildlife, and that other areas such as parks etc across Britain are just as important.  It also gave a rough idea of the state of wildlife across the British countryside.

It was amazing to see Chris Packham in the flesh after years of watching him on TV from the Really Wild Show to Springwatch.  He is a lot taller than I was expecting and he had a huge presence about him, and his knowledge and passion for wildlife just shone through him like rays of sunshine.

After a very wet day in Wales, I was inspired to do my own little bioblitz on a small strip of garden about 7ft x 40ft.  It doesn’t sound a very big area to support wildlife but its amazing what I have crammed in there to help them thrive.

20180722_162135

In this tiny bit of land there are 2 little ponds made from plastic containers sunk into the ground.  There is a small log pile, bug house and a piece of upturned carpet on the ground for the newts and other small creatures to hide under.

Here are the results for my tiny Cheshire garden bioblitz of 2 hours:

 

Birds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Greenfinch 1
Blackbird  2
Bluetit 12
Starling  7
Sparrow  4
Dunnock  1
Goldfinch  5
Goldcrest  1
Great Tit  6
Greater Spotted Woodpecker  1
Magpie  1
Longtailed tit  3
Robin  1
Rook  1
Song Thrush  1
Wood Pigeon  1
Collared Doves  2
Sparrow Hawk  1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Bees

bees
Garden Bumble bee  12
Carder Bee  9
Leaf Cutter Bee  1
Mason Bee  2
Hairy Footed Flower Bee  1
Red Tailed Bumble Bee  2

 

Spiders

spiders
Harvestman Spider  1
Wolf Spider  2
Cobweb Spider  1
Candy Striped Spider  1
Zebra Spider  3
Garden Spider  11
False Widow Spider  2

 

Butterflies and Moths 

moths

Humming Bird Moth 1
Tortoiseshell Butterfly  4
Gate Keeper Butterfly  1
Large White Butterfly  3
Small White Butterfly  4
Common Blue Butterfly  1
Large Yellow Underwing Moth  2
Cinnabar Moth  1
Cinnabar Moth Larvae  9
Twenty Plume Moth  1
Elephant Hawk Moth  1
Silver Y Moth  3
Carpet Flame Moth 1

 

Amphibians

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Toad  1
Smooth Newt  1

 

Bugs and Beetles

bugs
7 Spot Ladybird  1
Harlequin Ladybird  1
Rosemary Beetle  1
Darkling Beetle  3
Hairy Shield Bug  1
Pollen Beetle  4
Wasp Beetle  1
Flower Bug Liocoris Tripustulatus  2
Capsus Ater Bug  1
Calocoris Stys Bug  5

 

Flies and other insects

hoverflies

Hoverfly (7 different species)  12
Horsefly  1
Earthworm  3
Wasp  4
Woodlice  11
Leaf Hopper  3
Black Field Ant  1
Spider Mites  12
Millipede  1
Earwig  3
Horsehair Worm  1
Rat Tailed Maggot  5
Wood Wasp  1
Black Horned Gem Fly  1
Common Field Grasshopper  1
Garden Snail  1
Brown Lipped Snail  2

creepy crawlies

 

Mammals

squirrel1
House Mouse  1
Squirrel  1

 

Flew Over Garden

Buzzard  2
Rook 1
Swallows  5
Green Woodpecker  1

 

Well, if you have managed to read down to the bottom I hope you found it an impressive list for such a small area.  I should also say I didn’t go lifting wood and looking under shrubs, nor unfortunately do I have a moth trap, otherwise the count would have been a lot more impressive.  There where also some creepy crawlies that I was just unable to identify so was unable to count them.  I also didn’t get round to noting the fauna, of which there are a variety of mosses, grasses and wildflowers.

I had a fun time doing my own little bioblitz and was amazed how many creatures such a small area contained.  Everyone needs to become more aware about the importance of even the smallest areas for wildlife.  Nature reserves are important for wildlife but so are parks, gardens, waste lands, verges etc..

How about spending just an hour where you live to note the different wildlife you see. You’ll be amazed at what you find even in the smallest of areas. You will also discover when trying to identify them, that there are a lot more species out there than you ever thought.

Advertisements

An insect view of flowers

I love to sit and admire all the flowers in my garden and watch how much the insects love them too.  I love their beautiful colours, different textures and exquisite scents.  I sit and watch delicate flower heads nodding in the soft summer breeze and listen to the tall grasses rustling.  A tortoiseshell butterfly flutters upward as I brush past the lavender bushes, whilst bees buzz past me trying to capture the lavenders sweet nectar.  Hoverflies land on the wildflowers whilst trying to hang on as the breeze throws the long flower stems from side to side and tiny pollen beetles nestle securely deep inside the flowers stamen.

Sitting here, I wonder what these flowers look like to insects.  I sat down on the grass and looked closely at a daisy.  The many delicate white petals surrounding the intricate yellow flower head.  One daisy flower in the garden even has a red dot in its centre too.daisy petal

I decided that the only way I could get a closer look was to see what the flowers looked like under a microscope.  Luckily for me, I have a microscope attachment for my phone so I was able to instantly see the delicate structure of the flowers in-situ in the garden.

A yellow viola’s centre looks like its covered in white powder under the microscope.viola petal

A buttercup looks just as shiny and buttery close up and the stamens are large and protruding to entice pollinator in. buttercup petal

I always think hedge woundwort flowers looks like pretty little orchid flowers but they look even more stunning under a microscope.  It’s amazing to see all the tiny hairs on the flowers which makes it look furry close up.  You can see why it entices so many bees to its flower.horshound petal

Finally I took a microscopic photo of a geranium petal.  A close up photo shows the petal looks wrinkled with white hairs in its centre.  Under the microscope though, it looks a wonderful metallic colour full of minute dots.geranium petalI’m glad I took the time to have a closer look at flowers and it’s made me appreciate even more how they attract pollinators.  Next time you are in your garden why not stop and take a closer look at your flowers too, as you maybe surprised at what you find.

 

Spiders in the garden

Today I went on a spider hunt in my Cheshire garden.  I have a love/fear relationship with these creatures.  I have a fascination for them and think they are lovely to just sit and watch but if one crawled on to me I’d proper freak out.  I like to sit and admire them from a far and the photos I have taken were on my phone using a selfie stick so I didn’t have to get too close, even still my hand was a bit shaky.

The first spider I came across was basking on a piece of cardboard that I had a seed tray resting on by my door step.  It scurried away quickly when it saw me, showing they are more frightened of us than we are of them.  As I sat there for a bit, it soon came back out to sunbathe. It was a beautiful little wolf spider (pardosa).IMG_20180625_171545_951.jpg

The next spider I saw was a cobweb spider which shot out of her cobweb tunnel as I brushed past a tub of chives that are also at the bottom of my door step.  She shot out with lightening speed but then saw me and hid quickly behind the tub.

As I walked towards he pond I came across a garden cross spider. There are a fair few of these in the garden as well as their little spiderlings.IMG_20180625_171937_494.jpg

Tucked up in the corner of the fence I spotted a false widow spider (steatoda).  It had its front legs tucked up tight against its body making it look smaller than it was.  This one was very shiny and brown in colour but I have also seen a black one in the shed too.  The web is quite messing looking. IMG_20180625_171246_375.jpg

The last spider I came across was a Zebra spider. I see quite a lot of these in the garden.  Normally walking along the walls.  I always think they are quite inquisitive spiders too, as they always turn to have a good look at you when you walk past.

There are no doubt many more spider species in the garden but they like to tuck themselves away.  Unless you go specifically searching for them you probably pass them by without even thinking.  It’s a shame spiders get such a bad press all the time as they are fascinating creatures and eat a lot of garden and home pests for us.

 

 

 

A relaxing 30 days wild

Yesterday it was blowing a gale and raining so I spent 30 Days Wild indoors, warm and dry. bev5j44kek7.jpg.jpg I still got to see lots of nature from the window though.  I saw pair of goldfinches on the nyjer feeder, a fledgling blue tit on the fence chirping loudly to be fed and a song thrush smashing up snail shells on the stone path.  In the evening the weather calmed down and the sun made an appearance just as it was about to set on the horizon so I also got to enjoy a lovely sunset too.

img_20160620_214404.jpg

Today I went barefoot in the garden and did some yoga.  It was nice to feel the cool grass under my feet and after the unsettled weather yesterday the air felt cool and refreshing on my face.  It was nice to just lay on the grass and watch the clouds go by too.  Just being one with nature and letting my mind and imagination free was relaxing.20160623_153230.jpgI hope you all had a lovely relaxing day too, and enjoyed whatever you did, where ever it was.

 

Garden birds

I didn’t write a blog yesterday as I was so busy with gardening, diy and job hunting.  At least I got to still spend some time outdoors though and enjoy the flowers.

Today I had a relaxing day in the garden and watched the birds.  I bought a nyjer seed feeder on Monday and already have a pair of goldfinches visiting it.  I feel so sorry for the wildlife at the moment as everywhere is so dry due to lack of rain.  I always have water dishes and bird baths out for them and they are being well used at the moment.  I have also noticed how tame birds are becoming.  I have had birds a foot away from me and not be bothered by me and some even come to me when they want more suet pellets putting on the feeder tray.sparrows

It’s amazing how many different birds visit a bird table in just half an hour. I even captures some footage of birds on the bird table here.

In just 30 mins I saw blackbirds and a song thrush under the shrubs scratting for grubs and worms and a little gold crest and wren flittering between the branches . On the fat feeder I saw a rook, young squabbling starlings, a magpie and some sparrows.  Blue tit, coal tit and great tit fledglings tweet loudly from the climbing honeysuckle waiting to be fed, sometimes fluttering to the ground clumsily because they’ve missed their perch. 10530952_10204577539542327_2874282285086763644_n

It doesn’t take long for birds to find food and water in the garden and they really need both at the moment, with their growing families to feed and the hot weather causing worms to go deeper into the earth and puddles to dry up.blackbird june16

Even if you can’t put a bird feeder in your garden it’s important to try and put a bowl of water out for them like in a plant pot saucer perhaps.  It will be a great help to the birds as not only can they cool down and have a bath in it but they can have a much needed drink too.fledgling sparrow

Delamere stroll

Another beautiful June day.  The sky is a bright azure blue with the occasional wispy cloud drifting on by.  It’s a great day for taking shade under leafy forest canopy.20180524_133420.jpg

My journey started at Gwesty’s Waste car park where I walked across the road towards Delamere forest.  The earth beneath me is dry with lack of rain and dust kicks up with every step made.  I watched squirrels chase each other around the tree trunks and across branches and I saw rabbits hopping about in the grassy areas.   I saw a centipede shuffle across the path in front of me, whilst a spider scurried off into the undergrowth carrying her egg sac.20180524_141648.jpg

As I walked up to the Old Pale which is 176 metres high I saw buzzards circling high above me on the wind currents.  In front of me I could see a wild grass area full to the brim with dandelion clocks just waiting to be blown off in the gentle breeze. 20180524_140249.jpg

Slightly beyond that a yellow field of rapeseed flowers shines brightly like the sun.  It was such a beautiful clear day it was possible to see a panoramic view of many different counties from Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Denbighshire and Flintshire. 20180524_135827.jpg

All these counties are represented at the top of Old Pale by standing stones of deep red sandstone and brass plaques also point out specific view points for the traveller such as: Helsby hill, Jodrell bank, Moel Famau and Liverpool skyline.20180524_135750.jpg

I  walked down towards the visitors centre for a well earned ice cream before returning once more towards Gwesty’s Waste.20180524_135610.jpg

It was a lovely walk and even though I didn’t see as much wildlife as I had expected, I did enjoy the fantastic views and the shade of the trees from the hot sun.

A bee hunt

Last year when I took part in the big garden bee count the lavenders were all out in flower but even though the bees absolutely favourite flower isn’t quite out yet, there are still lots of bee friendly flowers for them to get lots of nectar from.

The exquisite scent of the mock orange (Philidelphius) flowers waffs about the garden enticing the bees with it’s scent that smells like pear drop sweets.  

Geraniums, campanula and million bells also entice the bees and other insects.  

Wildflowers such as; red campion, horehound and foxglove are always a big favourite with the bees. Their absolute favourite at the moment is the cotonester bush they pries the little tight flower buds open to reach in and grab the yummy nectar and carder bees have even got their nest right next to it for convenience.

Its lovely to sit and watch the bees busily buzzing about the garden.  I’ve tried to follow them as they dart quickly from flower to flower but it’s so hard to keep up with them; and even harder to capture them on camera.  It’s truly amazing how quickly they move about the flowers.

An hours bee count for today

Common carder bee  19

wool carder bee  1

Shrill carder bee  5

Brown carder bee  5

Red mason bee  1

Willoughby leafcutter bee  3

Red tailed bumble bee  2

Garden bumble bee  1

Buff tailed bumble bee  2

I may do another bee count at the end of June when more flowers are out but to be honest I don’t need much of an excuse to follow bees around the garden.