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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wildlife Garden

Trying to make the most of the good weather. Some photo's from our Wildlife Garden. ( a small area at the bottom of our garden, recognised by the Somerset Wildlife Trust .)

This first picture is not as good as I hoped for but just shows some type of bee or fly feeding on the head of a Thistle. It had a large proboscis

Since I added the description below I now thnk that the photo simply shows the Flower head beginning to open. I'll check again today and it should be much clearer now!!
On the same thistle I noticed this unusual collection of eggs? They were sitting in the crown of an unopened thistle flower head . They look like eggs to me, but what insect chooses a thistle flower head before it has opened?

Also just starting to flower is this Ragwort, probably Common Ragwort. I have been trying hard to use a key to pin down as to whether it is Common,Oxford, Hoary or something else. Its certainly not Silver as I saw that last year on the Cornish coast and it is quite different.

My favourite umbellifer, Wild Carrot.  Clearly showing the small red flower in the centre and the prominent bracts. Very distinctive.

Wildflowers at the Olympic Park. Should our traditional nature reserves add non native flowers?

Extract from an  article in the Gurdian Newspaper.


Click here to see the article

Matthew Appleby.

If you want to see the big ideas coming out of British horticulture, there's no better – or bigger – showcase than the gardens and meadows of the Olympic Park in Stratford.
The 250-hectare site in east London has been filled with 4,000 trees, 300,000 wetland plants, 15,000 square metres of lawns and more than 150,000 perennial plants, in an ambitious scheme designed to delight visitors to the Games and leave a legacy of a permanent park once the Olympics are over.
First, there are the wildflower meadows, 10 football fields-worth of them, carefully planned and sown to reach their peak just in time for the torch's arrival in east London next Friday, and sporting a suitably Olympic gold colour scheme. Wildflowers are having a moment: sales of cornflowers, field poppies and other pollinator-friendly blooms have tripled this year, influenced by Sarah Raven's TV programme Bees, Butterflies And Blooms, and Chelsea show gardens packed with wispy natives.

Please read the full article.
Interesting comments about the use of non native species which is not a new feature of the English countryside. Many plants seem to have been introduced many years ago.
This links well with the differing points of view generated by the "Fields of Dreams" in South Petherton which are currently benefiting no doubt from the sunshine. By comparison our 4 acre meadow in Curry Rivel is managed to show off plants and flowers which are native to this part of Somerset. Its a challenging thought to consider changing our policy to deliberately  bring in , say , flowers from South Africa or elsewhere. We have a meeting of our management group and I might ask for opinions on the subject. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fantastic summer weather!!

The sun works wonders for wildlife in our meadow.  Photos taken last Saturday whilst showing  some friends around the field.  These photos are not the sharpest in the world but they just show yet again the variety of wildlife activity that is just waiting for some one to slowly walk around and look carefully at the hedges, grasses and wild flowers and insects that live there.

This first picture tries to show the Grass Vetchling , still flowering but at the same time, on the same grass like plant, a seed pod has developed. You can see it towards the top right hand corner. I must find out how to put a marker on a photo!

This yellow flower is,  I hope, a Greater Birds-foot-trefoil, looking resplendent in the bright sunshine. It grows in patches and looks very attractive against the grasses.

Whilst looking at plants which my friends were mostly interested in we found the ants nest, which are pretty numerous in the field , had come alive as ants came out and climbed up the grass stems and eventually flew off. Hundreds and probably thousands from the several nests we were close to. I know very little about this phase of an ants life cycle and I assume we were seeing male and female ants here.
A quick look at Wiki here: ,   gives an idea of the complex world of ants

I feel confident that this flower is Wild Basil. Growing at one end of the field in a patch in front of a hedge over about 30 metres or so. very attractive. Mild herby smell from the leaves.

Just as we were leaving the field we noticed this Gatekeeper butterfly , quite close to the gate as it happens! We had already seen large numbers of Meadow Browns, Ringlet, Large Skipper, Marbled White's , Large White, and numerous Burnet moths

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wildlife in Somerset meadows

We had a bit of drama in our meadow on Sunday. I had just spent a hour or so taking some record photos to show what was surviving the wet and unpleasant weather when a young man came into our field. To cut a long story short he was from Western Power and investigating a loss of electricity in our village. It became necessary to get access to a pole on the edge of our field which meant bringing in three large vans with all their gear to carry out repairs. Having pointed out that the field was a nature reserve they were careful to keep to the edge of the field to minimise trampling the grasses and orchids!

It took an hour or so to complete the work and peace and quiet was restored as was the electricity supply.

Here are a few of the wildlife photos I had just taken:

Soldier Beetles having a party!

 Marbled White on Knapweed  ( Centaurea scabiosa)

Burnet Moth enjoying the Knapweed.  ( Centaurea scabiosa)

Is this the Thickleg Beetle, Oedemera nobilis ? ( with rather thin legs!!)
on Field Scabious  ( Knautia arvensis)

To see a better photograph try this link:

This is just one of hundreds if not a thousand or more in our 4 acres.  Pyramidal Orchid. (Anacamptis pyramidalis) I even found a pure white specimen a week or so ago.