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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

Day 1 of 30 Days Wild

Today is the start of 30 Days Wild were The Wildlife Trust challenge you to do something inspired by nature each day throughout June.  Everyone taking part will be busy bees at the moment I’m sure; taking photos, writing blogs and doing nature based activities.

I can’t believe a whole year has gone by since the last 30 Days Wild.  It only seems like yesterday I was busily planning my months worth of “Random acts of wilderness”.

This year I spent my first “Wild” day at work

…..but don’t sigh….

I work outdoors surrounded by an array of beautiful flowers which attract a variety of wondrous small creatures 🙂

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The wild areas dotted with vibrant red poppies entice hoverflies, butterflies, a variety of bees and other insects

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Caterpillars hide from the mid-day sun and from beady eyed birds ready to carry them away to feed their young family.

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But a silver Y moth and a small copper butterfly look like have had a few near misses

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The ladybirds however, seem to be enjoying the sunshine and are helping keep all those pesky aphids away from the plants.

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Of course, my favourite creatures to watch whilst i’m working amongst the plants are bees.

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I think they bring a ray of sunshine to even the most dreariest of days.

All of these tiny creatures have a big part to play in any garden and I think we must cherish them more.

Hopefully you’ll all have a go at doing something “Wild” this June and show nature just how much you appreciate it.

Counting bees

It was #BeesNeeds week last week and various wildlife organisations encouraged people in Cheshire to spare an hour to go out and count the bees. This was to spread the awareness of bees and how important they are to us and to survey their numbers.

As usual the weather did nothing but rain and rain until finally just as the week ended there was dry weather and a hint of sunshine on the horizon.

I ran out of the door excitedly with my camera, ID chart, notebook and pen. Funnily enough though, I didn’t make it much passed the front door. I have various different types of lavender and they were alive with the sounds of buzzing bees.

I got my camping chair out and sat in front of each lavender bush and started to count.

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In the hour I managed to count a total of 35 bees.

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5 masonry bees

12 garden bumblebees

17 carder bees

1 leafcutter bee

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I hadn’t realised how many different types of bees there were and it was hard to recognise them at first. They were busily buzzing around each flower and it was hard to keep track of them and get a closer look.

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There are apparently 24 species of bumblebee, 225 species of solitary bee and the honey bee in Britain.

Bees are fantastic pollinators but there are also hoverflies, butterflies, moths and other bugs that help to pollinate our flowers and the food that we eat.

So, how can you help the bees and other pollinators?

  • Sow wildflowers or plant flowers that attract pollinators such as foxgloves and lavender. Or, how about leaving those dandelions and clovers in the lawn.
  • Build a bug house. It doesn’t matter whether it is a branch/log with holes drilled in it or a big bug mansion. There will be a bug or bee that will happily live in it.
  • Try to be organic and not use pesticides or other chemicals in your garden.
  • Place a small basin or bird bath near the flowers with fresh water in it. Make sure you put stones inside so that the bees and flies can land safely without fear of falling in the water.
  • Share your sightings with local wildlife recording websites/apps so as to get an idea of the bee/insect population in your area.

Take time out and marvel at these busy little creatures. They do such an important job and we should look after them.

Follow the bees #30DaysWild

It was a lovely sunny day and the flowers were buzzing with bees so I decided to try and follow one to see where it went.

There were lots of bees on the geranium flowers and every time I tried to get a photo they’d gone. It was amazingly hard to try and follow just one bee as I kept getting distracted when I saw a different type of bee. I just loved watching them busily going about their work collecting pollen. They darted from one flower to the next, sometimes stopping to collect pollen but mostly checking the flower before moving on to another.

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Flowers have various ways of attracting bees and other pollinators, like an alluring scent or being brightly coloured but they also have an electrical charge, which is fascinating.

Bees are too busy to waste trying to get pollen from flowers that have already had their nectar taken and the flowers don’t need to attract bees if they have nothing to give, so flowers emit a different electrical signal after their nectar has been taken. acting as a “No Vacancy” sign to other bees.

Nature is so clever!

A world without bees would be no world at all. Think of all the beautiful coloured flowers in your garden and fruit on the trees, all pollinated by little creatures such as this.

I’m glad I saw so many bees today as it shows that the garden is healthy and bee friendly.  There are areas of wildflowers, perennial and annual flowers displays, fruit garden and small orchard, all of which are chemical free and organic.

Here are some things you can do to help the bees:

Leave the dandelions and clover in your garden.

Don’t use chemicals in your garden.

Put a small basin of water or a bird bath with some stones in it for them to crawl on -bees get thirsty too.

Build a bee hotel.

Have a wild area in your garden and sow some wildflowers.

Even if you don’t have a big garden just growing bee friendly flowers in a pot will help.

And finally, sometimes you may see bees on the floor. They can be resting or exhausted so RSPB give advise on how to help them here

 

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