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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Garden mini beast

Last week we had a period of lovely warm dry weather so I decided I would take the opportunity to get out into my garden and take a closer look at the smaller creatures living amongst the wildflowers and shrubs.

There were carder bees, garden bumbles and red tailed bumbles busily flying from one lavender flower to the next and disappearing into the bell shaped flowers of the foxgloves.

I then saw a few admirals, orange tips and  painted lady butterflies fluttering up and down the garden in the sunshine and never landing long enough for me to take their photo.

I decided to sit by one of my lavender bushes for a while and take a closer look at it. I suddenly realised it was teaming with life. There were drone flies, planthoppers, darkling beetles. and a variety of hoverflies. It was amazing to see so many creatures appreciating my lavender as much as I do.

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I think the most beautiful bug I saw on the lavender was a rosemary beetle.

Unfortunately these attractive beetles are an invasive species which appeared in the UK in about 1994 and apparently eats the new growth of various aromatic plants. The adult beetles are roughly 8mm long with shiny metallic purple and green stripes on their wing cases and thorax.  Adult beetles are usually first seen in late spring, and remain mostly stationary on plants until later in the year. In late summer they’ll begin to mate and lay eggs on the underside of leaves. After the larvae hatch they feed on the host plant for a few weeks before dropping down to pupate below the soil surface.

They are stunningly beautiful though.

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As I walked around the garden I  saw lots of fine threads of silk glistening in the sunshine from tiny garden spiders that have recently hatched out. The best time to appreciate spiders webs of course is when its been raining or a dewy morning as they look like they are covered in tiny glistening diamonds.

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Along a wooden log on the floor I saw zebra spiders sunning themselves and a weevil scurrying by. I then saw what I think is a meadow grasshopper, which I have never seen before. I just love the sound of grasshoppers, as to me its the sound of summer.

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As I made my way back inside for some well earned cake and a cup of tea I brushed pasted my sweet smelling honeysuckle, accidentally disturbing some moths which fluttered about not happy that they had been woken up.

It was lovely to see such a variety of small creatures living in the garden and it was fascinating to take a closer look at the miniature secret world that surrounds us. I shall remember to take a closer look more often from now on.

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