Cabin fever

Today and the next couple of days we are having our hallway plastered. So the house is a little bit topsy turvy. So with little space for Alice to go back and forth we headed out for a walk to prevent cabin fever.

I discovered a new picnic area has been put together with a display showing what wildlife we might see

The spot overlooks part of the mere.

At the moment we have a scarecrow trail around town. At this new picnic spot I discovered one, an actual scary-crow scarecrow.

From there we walked around to the mere’s edge. The mere is a large body of fresh water. It has an abundance of bird life. Within the habitats available it attracts wetland, farm and sea birds. Even on a grey rainy day like today I still saw more variety than many trips to nature reserves.

There were lots of Canadian Geese.

I saw a good number of ducks. Some mallards and some I don’t know.

The jackdaws were hopping in and out of the other birds. As discussed before I like corvids and particularly jackdaws. I know some people consider them evil looking, but I rather like the blue eyes and apparent intelligence.

Alice thought the ducks and geese were hilarious, but they didn’t seem as keen on her.

We saw a number of types of gull. Springwatch released an article last week pointing out that there is no such thing as a seagull. So with that in mind here are black headed gulls and a herring gull.

Within the thistles and cow parsley goldfinches and pied wagtails flitted about. The goldfinch was slightly rude refusing to turn so I could take a photo of its better side.

The thistles were still seeing quite a few visitors despite the colder weather.

After the mere, we walked along the seafront home where we saw the lesser spotted sea pigeons.

Before heading home I gave Alice a quick run around outside the Floral Hall.

The Floral Hall is a community run venture with a cafe and hall. They put on live music, club nights, theatre shows and cinema nights. The flower displays are always lovely. The bug hotel they built this year is looking good and with plenty of teasel around it should see some visitors. Teasel is high on the list of flowers I would like to get growing in the garden next year. It is loved by pollinators and the birds will eat the seed heads.

Not a bad way to fill time staying away from the plastering in the house.

Bees in need

This week is bees needs week. The week is organised by DEFRA and a number of charities. It aims to raise awareness of the role of bees and other pollinators. Today I’ll discuss the aims of the week and a few things you can do to help and share some of my bee photos from the last year.

Bees are vital to gardeners to pollinate many flowers as well as significant to farmers to pollinate crops.

The week is pushing five simple acts.

1: Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees. Having planted in more variety of shrubs, perennials and annuals this year I can see the difference in the number of bees in the garden. Amongst the bees favorites ate the foxgloves and the lavender. Bee and butterfly flower mixes are easy to buy these days. Once sown many will grow easily and self seed allowing the benefit continue. I grow some in my borders, but also in pots for easy management.


2: Let your garden grow wild.

There are a number of parts to this. Leaving grass in winter. Leaving pernial plants uncut gives hibernation shelters. Leaving a few wildflowers like dandelions of thistles gives pollinators there early source of pollen in the Spring. Nettles and brambles are important for many species to lay eggs on. Behind my garden there is a narrow path where nettles and brambles grow. I trim it back as little as possible, so I can still get the wheelbarrow down. This area is particularly good for moths between the thick ivy and nettles.

3: Cut grass less often. Most people don’t need an excuse to leave their lawns. But leaving grass to grow provides a number of species of butterfly good egg spots for caterpillars. Leaving grass after September gives bees nesting sites. With Alice I don’t really want the whole lawn long so I just have areas on the edge I leave to grow longer.

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4: Avoid disturbing nests. Many bees build underground nests in old mammal holes. Trees, walls and dead wood can also be nest sites. So again its about trying to leave them alone over Winter. Bee hotels can be bought or made for many solitary bees that nest above ground. While I haven’t had much luck with bees in mine they are filling with other life.


5: Think about whether to use pesticides. Many pesticides harm bees. Check labels and think carefully before buying. If you do use them try to avoid spraying flowering plants.

The wildlife trust had put out more information sheets here. Nothing very strenuous there, but will give you enjoyment of these vital, wonderful creatures.

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Brownfield

Behind the bus station is an area of brownfield land. I’m unsure what it was like in it’s previous incarnation. There are cement foundations and rubble around, but no clear signs. It has now been taken over by bindweed, nettles, brambles and other wildflowers. As I got home earlier with it being the last day of school, Amy and Alice had gone out, I went went out for a little explore. I have seen rabbits along one of the paths when out with Alice, but couldn’t take the pram down to explore. So I was hoping to see some more.

The area has had an awful lot dumped in it sadly. The site is littered with scrap metal and polystyrene.

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Despite that the site is a haven for wildlife, even on a grey day like today. The bees were out looking ethereal covered in the pollen of the thistles.

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It also provided me with my first sightings of comma butterflies this year. I haven’t seen any on my area. Now I’ve found a site they love. Eight spotted just on a short stretch. I’ve added my sightings to a the Big Butterfly Count along with one small white. It was exciting to see the flash of orange and realise it’s another species I was unaware of within my local area.

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The discovery of the comma’s was a nice discovery during the Big Butterfly Count, so even though I failed to see any rabbits the comma’s made up for it.

I’ve been busy of late, so I’m doing more quick twitter updates for anyone who uses it rather than full blogs. https://twitter.com/Jobasha to follow.

 

Bridleway exploring

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
John Muir

Yesterday had seen an unsettled night with Alice. She stubbornly refused to sleep on her own, so ended up resting on me until half 12. Then her morning nap was much the same. Thrashing and wailing all over the place. We don’t know if it’s teething, a reaction to the measles jab or something else and she doesn’t oblige by telling us. So I gave up on trying to put her down to take her out for some quiet time, pushing her around in the pram. Unlike many babies she doesn’t fall asleep that often in the pram. But I thought some time with her sat still might give her the rest she needed.

I head out round to the new housing estate. On the edge is a path taking you between what I think are wheat fields. The paths are pretty much only frequented by dog walkers.

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Along the edge of the path, in the wildflowers, I saw a number of ladybirds. Some were native I believe, rather than the usual harlequins I see.

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A lot of ringlets and red admiral butterflies criss crossed the verges.

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The slugs and snails have been out all over the last week with the heavy rain, but now it’s starting to dry out they are making a retreat.

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I took the footpath past the bunker. This path takes you through an overgrown area of brambles, bindweed, nettles and trees. It is a have for a whole variety of wildlife. Previously I discovered many robins and bluebells. On the walk up to it I passed a buddleja covered in red admirals.

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The bunker is apparently a favourite kids play spot, which is nice that it can now act as a hideout den.

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Around the bunker honeysuckle is starting to flower.

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While walking along this stretch one of the dog walkers recommended a bridleway a little further out of town. A bridleway, for those who are unsure, is defined a path for horses. Motor vehicles are not generally allowed access and they are not for the movement of livestock. Walkers can use them and cyclists, although cyclists are meant to give right of way to others. While cyclists are allowed to use them there is no local authority obligation to maintain them to be suitable for bikes. The path was not overly suitable for the pram and at times was hard going. It did however bounce Alice around enough to put her to sleep, which is what I was hoping would happen. I wouldn’t recommend it as a pram walk though, but I was lucky that the ground was dry and the grass at a length I could push through.

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The bridleway was a lovely route with fields either side, with house martins swooping over, butterflies, bees and hoverflies flitting along the edge. The path gently rolled upwards back to one of the roads out of Hornsea. I didn’t see another soul along the whole stretch.

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A hoverfly on the nettles.

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A small tortoiseshell.

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What I think is possibly a reed bunting. This is a new sighting to me to the area. I haven’t spent much time exploring the local farmland routes. As mentioned the pram is not really designed for this, but as Alice gets walking further we can get to know these paths better.

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Damselflies mating at the end of the path.

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On the way back home I spotted gull chicks venturing out of their nest on a roof.

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As Alice was still sleeping I took a little detour through the park to give her longer sleeping.

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I even spotted some mysterious activities going on at the town hall. They’ve possibly come to unmask local MP Graham Stuart.

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So Alice got a decent sleep in the end and I’ve found out about a new path and seen some new wildlife. A good trip out. I’ll finish with a photo of the hebe I got for my birthday. It’s flowering now and is a lovely colour. The bees are loving it.

Bee 4

30 days of wild: day 27-badgers

Today I went back to check for ladybirds with my class after yesterday. The kids were happy to see one emerged. I hadn’t just made up this crazy ladybird life cycle story to them.

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We also found several bees as I continue trying to teach a love of bees. There normal response is to try to hit them, which they need to get out of that habit.

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After work I went home and we had something to celebrate. My partner, Amy, has got a new job. It’s just part time, but should fit well when Alice starts school. So we celebrated with a beer. As it is Badger Week there could only be one choice. So raise a glass to new jobs and in recognition of badgers.

30 days of wild; day 25-garden watch and a wild drink

Today I have been sat working in the kitchen with the patio doors open working to check over my classes evidence for Local Authority moderation tomorrow. I decided while doing this I’d keep a tally of visible species. As with the RSPB gardenwatch I’ve only recorded the highest number seen at once.

The work I’ve done trying to make the garden more wildlife friendly over the last year is really showing.

Over a two hour period of putting my head up from my work every so often I’ve seen:

Birds

  • blackbirds 2
  • coal tit 1
  • starlings 6
  • common gull 1
  • sparrows 3
  • pigeon 3
  • jackdaws 3
  • collared dove 1
  • goldfinches 2
  • wren 1
  • long tailed tits 2

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Bees

    • Carder bee
    • White tailed bumblebee
    • red tailed bumblebee
    • carder bee
    • honey bee

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Butterflies

  • Speckled wood
  • Small tortoiseshell
  • Small white

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Now most of these species are fairly common to gardens. However these were spotted between about 10 and 11 in the morning. Not a prime time for birding. I wasn’t watching the whole time, so there is a chance there were other species. What this shows is from last year when I moved in the efforts I’ve made are working. Just a small amount of planting and providing homes and food for various wildlife has improved the biodiversity enormously. If everyone contributes that little bit in their garden it all comes together to allow us to coexist in our gardens alongside some spectacular wildlife.

To relax while checking over books I thought I’d try another wild act making a cup of nettle tea. I collected a mug of nettles from the wilderness behind the garden and boiled with 2 cups of water. Once boiled it loses its sting. Nettle tea apparently has many benefits for skin, health and urinary tracts. I can’t comment on that side yet, but it tasted pleasant enough.

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While collecting nettles I disturbed this rather interesting looking moth. I think it’s a small magpie, but the world of moth identification is a much bigger one than butterflies or birds, so may be wrong.

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30 days of wild: Day 24-Summer babies

The day started with a sighting of a juvenile goldfinch. They are the same as the adults essentially, but without the red face. I took this as a good sign as we were off to a baby shower today.

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The adult shortly followed.

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We had a lovely time at the baby shower. It was the baby shower of one of our friends who is having another girl. So Alice will have another friend to play with. Alice had a good wonder in the lovely garden.

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I managed a good few sightings for the Friends of the Earth Bee Hunt.

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Back at home in our garden I spotted this spectacular wasp mimic hoverfly. It was almost luminescent in its colours. I believe it’s a rather nicely named variety known as the marmalade fly (Episyrphus balteatus). A lovely splash of yellow on what started as a grey day.

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