Tuesday, 24 June 2008

More leaf cutter bees.

I observed the leaf cutter bees again this morning. Here are some more pictures.Cutting a section of leaf

Carrying rolled up piece of leaf back to nest

Arriving at the window box where the nest tunnel has been excavated

Chasing off an intruder

Monday, 23 June 2008

Leaf cutter bees

I noticed the leaf cutter bees were visiting the plant again yesterday. Even though it was quite windy, the wind was from the south and so they were realatively sheltered. Today, the weather is sunny and calm and the bees are busy again today. As soon as the bee lands on the leaf it starts to cut with its mandibles.
As the bee cuts the leaf, the section is rolled up beneath the bees body. the whole process takes less than 30 seconds. The bee then lands for a minute or so before heading of to make another chamber to its nest.
Leaf cutter bees dig a tunnel underground and use the rolled leaf segments to make individual nest chambers. Each contains an egg and a ball of pollen as food. The leaf cutter bees in my garden have choisen to make a nest in one of the window boxes again. The soil has dried and pulled away from the side. The bee enters this gap and crawls down to the botton where the nest chamber begins.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


The swifts are still active next door. There appear to be two seprate nests under the eaves. As the swifts fly past in a small group they scream low over our garden, they are almost close enough to touch. However, when the swifts actually visit the nest they approach on their own and in silence.
I found the first froglet in the tank in my workshop. I removed it and released the baby frog into the vegetation on the edge of the pond.
First tortoiseshell butterfly in the garden

I discovered two leafcutter bees resting on tne rockery. It is very windy and they seem to be sheltering. I checked out a plant next to the pond that was used by leaf cutter bees last year and sure enough the tell tale signs that they have been using the leaves to make their nest. Will keep an eye out for more actvity.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Fledged blue tits

After a week spent in schools, this was the first chance to check out the nest box. When I arrived at Easthill Park I headed straight over towards the nest box. As I passed the large tree adjacent to the box I could hear the demanding calls of newly fledged chicks. It did not take long to locate the source of the calls.

Blue tit chicks were calling from different branches, at least one adult was busy collecting food and feeding the chicks in turn. After being feed a couple of the chicks followed the adult, obviously wanting to be next in line for the food.

The fledgelings insistent calls were accompanyed by wing quivers and open gape. One chick (below) followed the adult onto the ground and then flew up onto the bark of the tree.

I noticed a couple of the fledglings were pecking at the branches and leaves. It was difficult to know how many of the chicks successfully fledged. The most I could count inone go was five, but they werevery active and kept moving around making counting them difficult. However, I was pleased to see that the adults had successfully reared some chicks. There was no sound coming from the nest box.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

National School Grounds week

The 9th to the 13th June is National School Grounds Week. School grounds provide excellent opportunities to help wildlife and also to create exciting learning opportunities for children. I have been comissioned by Brighton and Hove council to visit two Brighton and Hove schools to deliver a habitat mapping project I have developed. The project allows schools to map the various habitats that make up their grounds and provide a template for recording the biodiversity that is present throughout the year. This can be used to help indicate areas that can be further enhanced for wildlife. Much of this information can be gathered by children as part of topics that relate to the National Curriculum. The map is electronic and so can also include jpgs, movies and sound files. This approach also increases the scientific skills that children can use studying local wildlife and provides an exciting addition to classroom studies.

Here are some of the animals we saw during the week.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Nest box visit

As it had been a while, I thought I should check out the blue tit nest box. I was pleased to see blue tits busily travelling too and fro. I noticed that they were not disturbed by people walking just a few metres from the box. I walked past slowly and was pleased to hear the sound of chicks inside the box.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

catch up

Not had much chance to report lately so here is a brief catch up. Still plenty of bumble bee activity. Holly blue butterflies no longer around but speckled wood butterflies still visiting and two sightings of a fritilary butterfly of some kind, did not settle so nit sure of the species. I observed two blue tits foraging in the front garden. Our cat caught another slowworm this time it had already shed its tail. Still lots of goldfinch activity. One still sings from the tv ariel on the house across the road. The swifts are nesting in next doors eaves as in previous years.