Monday, 29 December 2008
Sunday, 21 December 2008
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
If you have not placed feeders for birds because you are worried about cats, check out my entry for December 1st for some ideas that I tried. Its all a matter of placing the feeders in positions where the birds will find them and feel safe feeding. It also helps to be on a bird flight path. When we first moved into our previous house, about 16 years ago, the garden was desolate. However, by hanging a couple of fat balls from the washing line we soon had sparrows, starlings and the occasional green finch and blue tit stop off for a feed.
If you already have bird feeders, but are finding it difficult to attract birds to them, watch how birds use your garden and the surrounding area. The feeders may just need re sighting. People are often disappointed to find only sparrows and starlings visiting their bird feeders - however there is a great conservation concern for both house sparrows and starlings as they have declined greatly in recent years. They are both listed as red status species. So if you are only lucky enough to attract sparrows and starlings take heart in that you are doing your bit for wildlife and for conservation
Thursday, 4 December 2008
Also of note were a pair of robins and 2 thrushes. I caught a glimpse of what might have been a red wing through the branches, but too far off to be sure. Red wing are winter visitors often seen in parks and gardens in very cold weather. It appears that locally they tend to be mainly found in the surrounding countryside and move into parks and gardens for shelter when the weather is very bad. (See also earlier posting Wednesday 30 th January). I also observed a cormorant flying over the park, an unusual sight in Portslade Old Village as we are a fair distance from the sea or any rivers.
Monday, 1 December 2008
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Friday, 7 November 2008
While watching the wasps a red admiral butterfly flew over the garden but did not settle.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Despite being almost decimated once by caterpillars of the large white butterfly, they have continued to spread in front of the house. This years second generation of large white caterpillars are still quite evident on the leaves. They are quite large now and almost ready to pupate - as long as develop quick enough before the cold weather sets in. The caterpillars are mainly eating machines, devouring leaves as they grow. They will shed their skin 4 times before they are ready to pupate. Just before they shed their skin for the 5 th and last time they crawl away to find a safe secluded place to pupate.
The caterpillar above made its way up the front of the house yesterday to find somewhere to overwinter. It will attach itself with silk thread and as it sheds its skin for the last time it will reveal the chrysalis. It will remain as a chrysalis throughout the winter until spring when it will emerge as an adult. Some species, such as peacock butterflies overwinter as adults. They will also find a safe place away from the worst of the weather, such as a hollow tree or a garden shed.
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
The project then aims to guide schools with the aid of a group of specialists in ways that they can improve the sustainability of these different areas. I have been working on the project, with a fellow ecologist, as school grounds specialists. This includes encouraging biodiversity in school grounds and encouraging the use of the school grounds to study and experience wildlife. There are also many other areas of the schools curriculum that could be done outside in school grounds. And of course, time spent outside in the grounds whether it is active sport, drama or quite reading all add to the children's well being.
Here are a few pictures from the Launch
The project launch was hosted by Weald School, one of the pilot schools. The launch took place in the hexagonal library.
The display included a case study and a display stand, two laptop presentations about our work with school grounds, information, exhibits and literature.
Information about nest boxes, bird nest quiz and live exhibits; large white caterpillars, snails and damselfly larvae.
My IT based habitat mapping project, here are examples of several schools. Photographs depicting different areas of the grounds can be linked to the map. These can include both movies files and sound files, (the latter either animal sounds or children's descriptions etc.) linked to the photographs.
Example of how literacy, numeracy, art and other cross curriculum subjects can be used to study the school grounds.
If you would like to see more info about working with school grounds, check out the blog entry for June 2008 "National School Grounds Week."
If you would like to know more about the Enguage Project, check out the Enguage Project link on the West Sussex Grid for Learning below.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Monday, 6 October 2008
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
Sunday, 27 July 2008
Friday, 25 July 2008
Monday, 21 July 2008
Sunday 20th, I discovered a butterfly, wings crumpled as if it had recently hatched. The butterfly, possibly a gate keeper was hanging onto the long grass.
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Thursday, 3 July 2008
A very large (Queen?) red tailed buimble bee flew into our conservatory and needed to be helped out.
One warm, muggy evening the black ants left the nest by our side gate for their mating flight. Both the new queens and the much smaller (winged) males were visible in amoungst the workers. many of course did not make it.
Some ended up in spider webs, some were snatched out of the air by birds while others were picked off the ground by starlings and a herring gull. The idea being the females get a head start and only then 'fit' males will manage to fertilise a queen. The queens that were successful return to the ground and bite of their wings. They will start new colonise. the poor old males are not needed anymore. The successful queens will be looked after hand and foot (so to speak) but are destined to spend their life underground as egg laying machines.
From time to time I spot the tiny movements of a baby frog in the garden. Back in the pond, some of the tadpoles haven't even got their back legs yet.
The two herring gull chicks on the roof behind us were learning to fly in their usual clumsy way.Last, but by no means least, the swifts nesting next door have been putting on spectacular air displays in the evening. The picture don't do them justice (not even the video I took). In the picture above they are just begining to turn for a run across our front garden. They will scream in (lower than the gutter of next doors house) and pass overhead almost close enough to touch if I stood up. Our garden is higher than next door so they are much lower when they pass.
When I stayed with out friends in Tenerife a few years back I would get up early to see them. Our friends lived in the mountains and by about 8 am the swifts had made their way up to us. I would walk a couple of hundred yards down the road and sit on a wall. They flew so close you could actually see their eye move as they flew past, checking me out. Another great experience with swifts was also up in the mountain in Tenerife. At the end of the road was a photo point over looking the valley. The swifts would scream low up the road and at the last moment star burst around us reminiscent of a red arrows display. Swifts would pass each side and above fly out over the valley, regroup and repeat the whole thing again. An amazing experience.