Monthly Archives: May 2015

Garden Biodiversity

Last week I did a post on International Biodiversity Day. As part of the day here in Ireland the National Biodiversity Centre was encouraging us to record the wildlife in our gardens over the weekend.

I concentrated on wild flowers, trees, butterflies, bees, birds and mammals. In total I had 64 species, though I know that there are more as some birds and butterflies that occur in the garden were not recorded over the weekend. I also didn’t see any frogs or newts which I also know are here. A couple of bees were missing too and I wasn’t able to identify all the hoverflies seen – some are quite tricky unless you have a microscope.

There were forty one wildflowers and trees, and thirteen different bird species, though admittedly I only heard the cuckoo! The hoverfly Leucozona lucorum was a new one for me, though I have since seen about five more. Another lovely find was a small copper butterfly. The peacock butterfly was quite worn but still beautiful.

Nationally on Friday 22nd May – 1,756 records were submitted to the Date Centre,  on Saturday 23rd May – 1,894 and on Sunday 24th May – 1,658 records. A total of 890 different species were recorded which is pretty impressive. More information can be seen on http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/

 

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International Biodiversity Day

Today (22nd May) is International Biodiversity Day. Here in Ireland the National Biodiversity Centre are asking us to spend some time over the weekend recording the wildlife in your garden, locality or nearest wildlife site, and tell them what species you find. I think this is a great idea and will certainly be taking part. Their aim is to record over 1000 records each day of the weekend (http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/).

So, not matter where you live on this wonderful earth of ours, why not take up the challenge too. How many species can you record in your garden this weekend? I will report back later in the week and look forward to hearing your reports too!

Green-veined white

Green-veined white

 

Bees, brassicas and comfrey

Those of you that are regular readers will know I have a soft spot for bees and pollinators in general. Today, with a bit of sunshine, and the bees seemed to be out in force. Over the last week I have seen the first of the workers bumblebees though the queens have been around since mid March. At this time of year there is not a lot flowering in my garden (something I am trying to address), so I always leave some brassicas to flower. The bees don’t appear to have any preference. There is purple sprouting broccoli, brussel sprouts and three types of kale all flowering at the moment.

Bumblebee and brassica

Bumblebee and brassica

Today I counted four different bumblebee species feeding on the flowers, and both queens and workers. Usually the workers are considerably smaller.

White tailed bumblebee, Bombus Lucorum

White tailed bumblebee, Bombus Lucorum

Common Carder Bee, Bombus pascurum

Common Carder Bee, Bombus pascurum

There were also four different hoverflies and a single species of solitary bee. Some of the pollinators were also feeding on the comfrey flowers.

Hoverfly, Rhingia campestris

Hoverfly, Rhingia campestris

Dronefly

Dronefly

Then, while in the greenhouse, I noticed an unusual bee. It had a white tail but only one yellow band. I went looking for my identification guide and I am pretty sure it is a Forest Cuckoo bumblebee.

Forest Cuckoo bee, Bombus sylvestris

Forest Cuckoo bee, Bombus sylvestris

Not the best photo I am afraid. The cuckoo bumblebee, as its name suggests, lays its eggs in another bees nest and does nothing else to rear their own young. The forest cuckoo’s host is the Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) which also occur in our garden.

 

Raheens Wood – return visit

Raheens wood is a placed I’ve blogged about before. We returned last week. The woodland flora is at it’s very best now. So, as time is not on my side this week, just enjoy the gallery.

 

 

 

Orange tips, frogs and purple potatoes

These beautiful Orange tip butterflies are quite plentiful at the moment – or at least when the sun’s shining! The caterpillars of this species feed only on the cuckcoo flower. It’s a spring flower than grows in our meadows and has many local names including Hail Marys. I know the second photo isn’t in focus but I liked the way I had accidentally captured the hoverfly too. I think it is from the species Platycheirus, but open to correction.

This frog was trying to hide in grass  – can you spot him in the first photo? I love to see frogs in the garden as they will eat plenty slugs. Common frog

 

Common frog

Common frog

We’ve finally planted the potatoes. I am about a fortnight behind this year with planting despite the good weather we had for part of April. I have planted three varieties. Charlotte will be the first to crop – most of these are already growing well in the tunnel but the rest I have planted out. Catriona are one of my favourites. They are fluffy, but not too fluffy and have a lovely flavour. This year I’m try a purple variety for the first time. It’s called Purple Majesty and the tubers are purple in colour.

Chitted potatoes

Chitted potatoes – Catriona

Purple Majesty potatoes

Purple Majesty potatoes

The apple trees are really coming into blossom now – so I hope the frost keeps away. We  keep having to chase a pair of bullfinches off the trees. It appears they like variety in their diet and are not content on eating just dandelion seeds!

Apple Blossom

Apple Blossom