Category Archives: Nature

Magic pollinators

As it is coming to the end of pollinator season for 2019, it seemed an appropriate time to have a celebration of all the magic off pollinators and the work they do.

peacock butterfly

Peacock

Butterflies and moths are only incidental pollinators, it is the bees and hoverflies that visit the flowers for both nectar and pollen.

White tailed bumblebee

White tailed bumblebee

Here are some more magical pollinators.

 

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Beautiful Burren

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to visit County Clare for the annual bee recorders event held by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. This is the second such event I have attended and it is wonderful to learn more about our amazing bees as well as meet like-minded individuals who are happy to run across a meadow chasing a bee with a net! This is the bee we were searching for. The Shrill carder bee, Ireland’s second rarest bee. It’s stronghold is County Clare, probably due in part to the flora rich habitats.

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Shrill carder bee (Bombus sylvarum)

I have not been to County Clare for many years. It is renowned for it’s spring flowers but it’s late summer flowers are just as amazing and brilliant for pollinators.

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Exposed limestone pavement and wild flowers

This area of Clare, where we spent our time, is known as the Burren. The word comes from an Irish word “Boíreann” meaning a rocky place, and it certainly is that. It is a limestone karst region, with much exposed limestone pavement but also flora rich calcareous grasslands.

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Flower meadow

There are so many beautiful meadows. Many like above photograph are dominated at this time of year with devils-bit scabious. But others like the one below are packed with knapweed and hawksbit.

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Flower meadow

There are amazing limestone walls, ancient tombs, the Burren National Park and more.

But really it is the flowers (and of course the pollinators) that make it a really special place for me. We will return.

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Ox-eyed daisy and other flowers

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wild marjorum with bee

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purple meadow

Arable flowers

In the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, which we visited in the summer, they had an area sown with arable wheat which had all the traditional arable “weeds” – which are in fact all wonderful flowers that attract many pollinators. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I liked it so much I took photos from lots of angles.

 

I would really love to replicate this is my own garden. In the summer it provides food for insects and in the autumn food for birds!

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Arable meadow

Large carder bee

This little beauty is the large carder bee or Bombus muscorum.

Bombus muscorum

Bombus muscorum

While widespread in Ireland it is not common and classed are having a near threatened conservation status. I don’t get them in my garden so was real treat to find them on a visit to the north coast of Mayo earlier in the week. Here is the large carder (right) alongside the common carder (left).

You will notice the large carder on the right is larger is size and has a blonde abdomen.

Lens artist photo challenge #58

This week’s lens artist photo challenge is –

Something old, something new, something borrow, something blue

Today we were introduced to some beautiful and very old elm trees. Many elms in Ireland were lost to Dutch elm disease but this is one of a few magnificent specimens that survived.

Elm tree

Elm tree

I haven’t yet introduced you to our new arrivals – they are just over a week old now, seven little chicks!

 

We have borrowed some much from nature including honey bees. All bees were originally wild bees, Apis melifera, but thousands of years ago humans thought it would be a good idea to provide bees with hives so we could steal their honey! This is an interesting article about the history of honey bees.

Honey bee

Honey bee

And finally something blue. Regular readers may remember a few weeks I showed you the Common blue butterfly – I managed to get a photo today of it’s wings open. This is a female not quite as blue as the male, but still very pretty, even if a little weather-worn.

Common Blue

Common Blue