Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Bee Walking, Frogs and Moths

Yesterday, a friend (hello Kaz if you're reading this!) drew my attention to a fantastic bit of Citizen Science that The Bumblebee Conservation Trust are running from now until October: Bee Walking.

It's a very simple concept- you do the same hour's walk once a month and record all the bumblebee species that you see on it. You can send any pics you have for help with IDs and all the data gets put together to work out trends in bumblebee populations. What's not to like?

Here's the link for any of you who are interested in taking part: www.beewalk.org.uk

I shall definitely be doing it, along with my butterfly transects which start in a couple of weeks.

Our frogs are out and about again and are especially busy at night. No-one has been in the pond as far as I can tell, but I found these two busy mating by the garage. Not a very salubrious place but as it has cover in the form of stones and leaves and isn't really a place people go, it probably fitted the bill for the frogs quite well... NB: thanks to Caroline at Ragged Robin for pointing out that these two are actually toads! The wartiness should have been a give-away, but I'll plead bad lighting as my excuse :-)


The moth box went out last night and produced a reasonable number of moths, with two new species for the year: a Nut-Tree Tussock and a Dotted Border (which is also an all-time new species for me in the garden here). They bring the total of species for 2014 to 14 (so I am now one ahead, Caroline :-) ). The Nut Tree Tussock is a good one for Hampshire because there aren't all that many recorded here at this time of the year, and we had 2 appear last night.  It over-winters as a pupa and feeds on beech, hazel, birch and hornbeam, all of which we have around here. I'm assuming he has recently hatched. He's a little early- they are more common from April, but perhaps this is down to the recent mild weather.

Male Dotted Border- a very pretty and delicate moth. The girls are wingless. This one was asleep on J's window where the light from the box had been shining all night.

Nut-Tree Tussock
You do get creatures other than moths in the box from time to time. Here is a variety of Ichneumon Wasp who came visiting yesterday. I'm not Very Keen on Ichneumons on the whole, as they parasite moths and butterflies, laying their eggs in them, so it wasn't particularly great to find him in the box with all the moths! But I think the worst of these unexpected visitors has to be the HUGE wolf spiders (I'm not a fan) who pop in from time to time. I had several nasty shocks with these beasties last year when I picked up a moth-covered egg box only to turn it over and discover my fingers in uncomfortably close proximity to 8 hairy legs waving at me. I hope I have managed to solve this problem by running the moth box on a table.

Ichneumon Wasp

I'll leave you with a pic of our Geum (Tangerine) who is doing Rather Well in her second year with us. Her arrival last year was prompted by me seeing a relation of hers on Jessica's excellent blog at http://www.rustyduck.net/ 



Blogging is great for picking up tips and ideas.  Another one I had this morning was for a company called http://www.seedball.co.uk/ from fellow wildlife enthusiast Caroline at http://raggedrobinsnaturenotes.blogspot.co.uk/. This company produces seed balls of various mixes of wildflowers for bees and butterflies etc packed into attractive re-usable tins. It's worth checking out (especially with Mother's Day looming!).

Wishing you all a peaceful week,

CT :-)

16 comments:

  1. Your bumblebee walks sound like an interesting idea, I hope that you see lots. I have seen several bumblebees already bumbling their way around and about the place which has been nice, although they do seem to choose the oddest places for their homes to me!! All a matter of taste I guess, a bit like your mating frogs!! xx

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    1. It's been a good start for bumbles so far this year...long may it continue :-)
      Yes, I am rather glad I am not a frog on the whole! xx

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  2. Love that Geum nearly as much as your mating frogs picture!

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    1. It is a gorgeous colour and there are lots of blooms this year. Mating frogs=froglets before long! xx

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  3. Thanks so much for the mention CT :) I've been busy dropping out yet more hints today re: seed balls for Mother's Day :)

    The geum is beautiful :) Well done on the Nut Tree Tussock - never had one of those!!! lol re: your moth total - I suspect I will never catch you up now :)

    The bumble bee walks are a brilliant idea - I'm off to check it out. I could combine it with my walks round Marsh Lane possibly.

    Hope you don't mind me mentioning it but your frogs look very warty. Are they by any chance toads? Or perhaps its the way the light is catching them?

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    1. I think you are right, which is great because we get lots of frogs here but our resident toad was eaten by Samantha Helvetica (grass snake) last year, so I'm thrilled to have some more! :-)

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  4. Thanks for the link CT, my geum hasn't flowered yet although it does have lots of leaves. Might have a grope round the foliage tomorrow and see what I can find.
    In the greenhouse today I found an insect shaped a lot like your wasp, but it had bright yellow feet (!) and yellow bits on its head. It looked rather vicious really, so I caught it in a pot and chucked it out. Any ideas?

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    1. Last year only one or two flowers, this year loads, and such a gorgeous colour. Hope yours has too.

      The ichneumons are quite a variable group colour-wise, but all have those big elongated bottoms, sometimes with a long protuberance attached, so if it was a similar shape it probably was one. You can use them for getting rid of clothes moths - they are harmless to humans :-)

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  5. I love the idea of a bumblebee walk. I'd like to record more of my wildlife sightings this year, so this would fit in well with that.
    The geum is lovely and so is the nut-tree tussock!

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    1. I thought the bee walk was a super idea and low on time demands so most folk should be able to do it no problems- all that data must be a great help to helping our furry friends.

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  6. Sorry CT on reflection think you are right over frog id - I think it was the way light was catching them which made them look paler and "wartier" . I noticed my frogs in photos look a bit warty too :)

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    1. I showed some of my fellow ecology students the pics on the blog today and they all agreed - toad. Stupid of me not to even think of it really. I have had a look at both and I think the light makes it hard to see properly, but I'm pretty sure they're missing the brown adam ant type stripe across the face, so they must be toads. Thank you for the correction :-)

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  7. Hi again CT - So glad you sorted out the toad/frog conundrum :) I couldn't see the browny black bit behind the eye either and they did look very warty!!! Mistakes easily made!! I did at first think toad straight away and then had second thoughts!!! The way the light is falling on the photo makes it harder too!! Good news that you have toads though - we haven't seen one for years and years in our garden :( I'll swap a few of my frogs for one of your toads :)

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    1. Tee hee re frog and toad swap :-) We have got frogs, just none seem to want to spawn in the pond, probably on account of their being two enormous lakes across the way :-(

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  8. Thanks CT, i''d like to try doing the bumble bee walk. The Nut-Tree Tussock is a real beauty.

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    1. Could it be the beginning of furry moth season...? :-)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x