22nd June 2018

A Leaf Cutter Bee, American research has shown, carries out 20 times the pollination achieved by a honey bee. They are some of the 250 species of solitary bee that use cavities in the ground, wood, hollow stems and bee-nesting boxes to rear their young. They are fairly easy to spot as, having no pollen baskets in which to gather their pollen and nectar, they collect it all on the undersides of their body. They work hard over several weeks, to breed young they never see: finding suitable nesting holes, they cut semi-circular portions of leaves (you’ll have seen the neat holes in

Leafcutter Bee, and a tiny parasitic wasp

Leafcutter Bee, its underside holding collected pollen

Leafcutter Bee gathering pollen and nectar on its underside.

Leafcutter Bee carrying a piece of cut leaf to its nest.

leaves in your garden or park) and carry them, one at a time, under their bodies, (see photo) to line the hole, before laying an egg in each lined tube and stocking each with quantities of pollen and nectar. Finally, they cut a different shaped pice of leaf and seal each cell with it, using saliva as a glue. Conditions: Blue skies and hot sun. Temperature: Max 20- Min 9C..


15th June 2018

Jays, like Robins and some other birds, often cock their heads so they are looking with one eye- monocular vision– in order to better locate their food as they feed. They also practice forward planning, rare among birds, by collecting surplus food and caching it. Coal Tits do this too. Pre 1998, Jays, normally shy birds, rarely came into small gardens to feed but they now do so with increasing regularity- as this one shows, a few feet from our window. Their Latin  name describes aspects of their behaviour- Garrulus (noisy, chatty) Glandarius (related to their favoured food of acorns) . It is thought the reduction of acorns in the wild is part of the reason they eat more from garden feeders now. Conditions: sunny and calm. Temperature: Max 20 Min 11 C 

13th June 2018

Adult Blue Tit after raising young

The shevelled and the dishevelled: it always fascinates me to see the contrast, at this time of year, between the adult and juvenile Blue Tits. Exhausted and with feathers in a bad state of repair, ready for moult-time, the adults look diminished and ‘tatty’ after brooding and feeding a nest full of young, compared to the fluffed up and healthy, larger-looking juveniles, some of which are still demanding feeding. So here are some recent

Juvenile Blue Tit

photos showing the contrasts. Conditions : breezy, with some bright spells. Temperature: Max 21 Min 14C.

10th June 2018

Young Blue Tits, paler and fluffier than the adult, are still singing, or more accurately calling for their supper in our garden, though most of the juvenile Tits are now able to feed themselves. May and June are such busy times for the adults that they encourage the young to feed independently as soon as they can. With broods of at least seven young to raise , research shows that, on average, only one adult and one juvenile Blue Tit survives to breed the following year. Conditions: Mist clearing to sunshine. Temperature: Max 22 Min 12 C

Adult feeding young Blue Tits

18th May 2018

The Great British Bee Count is underway again between now and the end of June. It is easy to download the free app from Friends of the Earth and you can record as often as you like and from wherever you like- garden, park, walk, work or school grounds etc. Here are a couple of the easier Bumble Bees to identify, but there is a guide to help you on the app: The Red-tailed Bumblebee and the Tree Bumblebee in our garden in Sheffield. I won’t be near wi-

Tree Bumblebee

Tree Bumblebee

Red Tailed Bumblebee

Red-tailed Bumblebee

fi much over the next couple of weeks so there won’t be much blog activity, but then it should resume as usual. Conditions: Continuing the recent days of blue sky. Temperature: Max 18 Min 7 C.

15th May 2018

Shield Bugs- one of the easier insects to identify because the name fits their armoured body and shape

Shield Bug

. This is a common Shield Bug of woodland edges and hedgerows, and gardens: the Sloe Bug, one of 6,500 Shield Bugs world-wide. The adults hibernate and emerge from undergrowth in spring, grazing on leaves and plant sap, flowers and fruit, not just Sloes. The damage isn’t extensive and I find them easy to tolerate in the garden, and interesting to watch. This is a good time of year to see them, as they are out feeding and at their brightest colouring. Conditions: Another beautiful, blue-skied day. Temperature: Max 21 Min 11 C.

12th May 2018

Green-veined White Butterfly: here is the other white butterfly, out and about right now, that is not harmful to your brassicas and, on the contrary, is a helpful pollinator. Try to see this butterfly at rest, or feeding, which is when the ‘green’ veins, actually made up of black and yellow, show most beautifully. They are most marked early in the year, as they tend to fade when the butterfly is older, (much like me really).

Green-veined White

Green-veined White

Female Green-veined White.

As you can see, it loves feeding on wallflowers, Ladies Smock and other open- headed, spring flowers. Conditions: Cloud with sunny intervals. Temperature: Max 16 Min 9C