16th August 2018

Coppice with standards– I’ve talked before about the value of coppiced woodland for wildlife and diversity of flowers, insects and birds and the favoured form of coppicing in Sussex was ‘coppice with standards’. As can be seen in the photo’s, the coppiced Chestnut or Hornbeam, cut in rotation every 12 -15 years for maximum sustainable wood-crops, would also always include ‘standard’ oaks, which were have been spaced through the coppice, and of varying ages. Occasionally a mature Oak would then be felled for timber, and another sapling left to grow on and eventually replace it. This management of woodland produced a wide variety of sustainable wood over

Normanhurst woods, Catsfield- coppice with standard oak.

Recently cut coppice with standard oak.

centuries. Sadly, much woodland is now left to grow too dense for light to filter in and the variety of species to flourish. New Oaks are seldom planted to replace the old. Conditions: Rain overnight in Sheffield. Temperature: Max 20 Min 10 C.


12th July 2018

These wild Honeysuckles, as well as those you grow in the garden, are brilliant for wild-life, including ten species of insects which feed exclusively on them. The wonderful scent, strongest in the evening for attracting their pollinator Moths, can be detected a quarter of a mile away by the Hummingbird Hawkmoth. The caterpillar of the increasingly rare White Admiral depends on the leaves. Dormice use the bark for nest material for their young, and get nutrients from eating the nectar rich flowers. Thrushes nest in them, and eat their bright red autumn berries, as do Warblers and Bullfinches. Clearly, if you haven’t already got some in your garden, it is worth considering. Conditions: Cloudy and humid. Temperature: Max 23 Min 13 C.

Wild Honeysuckle

Wild Honeysuckle

Wild Honeysuckle

6th July 2018

Elephant Hawk-moth: Although this is a common nocturnal moth, with sightings in Sheffield, I have never seen one before this week. I was delighted when I opened the moth-trap in Hampshire to find this stunning individual peacefully resting, before flying off into a nearby bush. Named because the caterpillar is thought to resemble an elephant’s trunk, the adult moth feeds from tubular flowers like Honeysuckle, while the caterpillar eats bedstraws, Enchanter’s Nightshade, Himalayan Balsam and Fuchsia. Such a beautiful

Elephant Hawk-moth

Elephant Hawk-moth

Elephant Hawk-moth

Elephant Hawk-moth

, large moth. Conditions: This heatwave continues, with little or no sign of rain. Temperature:   Max 28 Min 14 C.

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.

30th April 2018

The Dunnock: Previously the Hedge Sparrow, it is an Accentor, not a Sparrow. The Dunnock is often inconspicuous, feeding on insects, worms etc on the ground and

Male Dunnock

Male Dunnock


flying low, so now is a good time to get to know it, as it sings it’s attractive song from posts or shrubs. Whilst some male Dunnocks are monogamous, others behave unusually in their bid to fertilise as many females in their territory as possible and can even be seen pecking the sperm of other males from the cloaca of a female. Young in the same nest have been found to have been fertilised by different males. Conditions: Cool, sunshine and showers. Temperature: Max 10 Min 3c.

16th April 2018

Some colonies of Lichen are over 8,000 years old and we have at least 1,700 species in the UK, so the British Lichen Society’s ‘Next Steps Project’ which aims at helping the non-plussed like me to identify common species is really worth logging onto. I think these, from Coed Lletywalter, are from the Peltigera (leafy) and Parmelia family. A symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae, Lichens extract water and nutrients from the air, which is why they are a good indicator of air quality– in this NW Wales ancient wood they proliferate on bark, stone and ground. Conditions: Plenty of sun with a cool breeze. Temperature: Max 14 Min 9C.

Peltigera (leafy) type Lichen

Peltigera (leafy) type lichen

Parmelia type Lichen