Bee Count time: Lupins, where I am staying, are proving a great source of pollen for Buff-tailed Bumblebees- just look at the colour and size of those pollen-baskets. An average pollen basket can contain around a million grains of pollen! Throughout June, Friends of the Earth want people to record Bees in their garden. There is an easy app for a smart-phone, with identification guide -a good way to really look at the variety of bees visiting your garden. Conditions: Sun and cloud with a

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

breeze. Temperature: Max 20- Min 10 C.


21st May 2017

Greater Celandine -in my occasional series on wild flowers, here is a very widespread plant. Related to the poppy but not to the common Lesser Celandine of early spring, Greater Celandine is often overlooked. Its common name of Swallowwort relates to the way it flowers as Swallows arrive. Recorded in the U.K. since at least Roman times, the definitive identification is its bright orange sap. Greater Celandine often occurs along paths. All parts of the plant can be poisonous if ingested, but it has been used to treat warts and other ailments for many centuries. Conditions: Warm and bright. Temperature: Max 18- Min 11 c.

Greater Celandine

23rd April 2017


We get Stock Doves

Stock Dove

Wood Pigeon- head

as well as Wood Pigeons in the garden now. Though not particularly welcome, they are both species increasing in the urban environment, so worth learning to tell apart maybe! Stock Doves are smaller and don’t have the white collar- see photo’s. I have no idea what the weather is like in Sheffield- reports for this week will be from glorious Pembrokeshire! Trying to learn to do it on a different machine so bear with me.

4th April 2017

There’s been a blog-break, enforced by my computer breaking– hope to be back in action now. Goldfinches are gathering the feathers I put out, seed heads of Japanese Anemones, and they will also use seed-heads of Coltsfoot, to line their nests. Like other birds, they are busy at present nest-building- carefully explore where they fly with moss, twigs etc and you may discover you have nests in your garden. Occasional gentle exploration will not disturb them, and you may get

Goldfinch gathers feathers for nesting


Goldfinch gathering seeheads of Japanese Anemone

information that will help prevent you doing gardening tasks that ruin their nests. This way, my friend Jenny discovered a Robin’s nest in her shed, which has put paid to getting the tools out for a while! Conditions: Cloudy with sunny intervals. Temperature: Max 14- Min 7c.

15th January 2017

Sheffield city nature diary by Penny Philcox

Larch- back in the country, here’s another of the occasional series on conifers. The Larch, the only European native deciduous conifer, was introduced to the UK in the 17th century, planted extensively because of it’s fast growth-rate and resistance to rotting when used for timber. Thought to be enchanted, it was worn or burned to keep away evil spirits. It’s tufts of soft needles are a beautiful lime-green in spring and gorgeous foxy-colour in autumn, before falling, leaving lovely cones. Larch is good for birds (Siskin and Redpoll), Red Squirrels and many moths.

Larch cones in winter Larch cones in winter

Larch cones in summer Larch cones in summer

Larch plantation in Autumn Larch plantation in Autumn

Larch in autumn Larch in autumn

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27th July 2016

Swallow-tailed Moth. With15 more times large Moths than Butterflies in the UK, and hundreds of Micro Moths, we pay much less attention to Moths. Here is a very common one in gardens up and down the UK. Four came to the light of my ‘Heath Robinson’ home made moth trap this week, but you could also attract them with a white sheet lit by a bright light. They fly mostly from late June to early August so this is a good time. They just settled near the lamp, by about 10.30.  At 2 inches across they are easy to see and identify. The caterpillars eat common leaves like Hawthorn, Sloe and Honeysuckle but their favourite is Ivy. Conditions: Sunny intervals. Temperature:Max 21- Min 13c.

Swallowtail Moth

Swallow-tailed Moth

Swallowtail Moth

Swallow-tailed Moth

Swallowtail moth

Swallow-tailed moth