Nature and Conservation

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Wildlife Ways April 2018

BLUETIT

  As I sit at my desk to type, it is almost 9 o’clock in the evening and the garden is still bathed in warm sunshine.  In fact, the weather has been ‘set fair’ for a fortnight now and the front lawn is starting to yellow.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, I am delighted that the summer is finally showing its glorious face and that there is, at last, some warmth in the air.

In the garden, the freshly planted borders are bursting into bloom, the foxgloves and poppies are flowering and the lilac has had a spectacular show of blossom this year. The fences, sheds and garden furniture have had a fresh lick of paint and we are looking forward to enjoying the fruits of our labours –hopefully, some sunny, summer weekends and evenings when we can enjoy sitting outdoors.  

Having recently attended a pollinator workshop I learned that one third of the food we eat in Britain relies on insects to pollinate it and, of those, only one third are honeybees, the rest are wild bumblebees, moths, flies, hoverflies, wasps, butterflies and beetles.  Many of these are in decline due to habitat loss, climate change, pollution, disease and chemicals used in farming.   

In order to help reverse the declining populations it is very important that there are nectar sources throughout the foraging period from April to September.  Having plants that bloom at different times throughout the spring and summer helps to provide a continuous ‘blossom sequence’ as well as ensuring your garden is filled with beautiful colour for as long as possible so it’s a win-win ?.

I am hoping that the flowers I have planted will attract the bees, but I was reminded that providing a food source for the bees and hoverflies is not enough, we need to consider providing places in which to shelter and nest.  Bundling some short lengths of bamboo tightly together or just drilling some holes of varying diameters in your wooden fence posts would help. We also need to think about the larval stages – perhaps some dead wood in the garden and a pond or even just an upturned bin lid with water in to provide a home for the rat-tailed maggots, which turn into hoverflies.  

Back to birds, I heard and saw the first screaming party of swifts over Grantham on 9th May and just 2 weeks later a pair was swooping up to the space above the artificial house martin nest, noisily trying to evict the resident house sparrows.  Sadly, since the house martins I spotted in April, I have yet to see any more and they certainly aren’t in our nest yet.  I have, however, seen many swallows and the greenfinch, a rare visitor to our garden, has finally returned.

 We have had the first blackbird fledglings of the year hopping around on the lawn with their wide gapes on show as they call out to their busy parents but we have yet to see any other youngsters.   The coming weeks will be a very busy time in the garden from both my perspective, with lawn mowing and weeding as well as from a wildlife point of view.  I am looking forward to observing nature’s endless entertainment and hope you are too  ?     

Gail

Please feel free to ask questions, send me your wildlife news or offer suggestions of what you would like me to include in future -113 Ermine Street or gailtalton@btinternet.com and thank you for all of the emails you have sent so far.