Tuesday, 9 November 2010


During the sunny days, over the last week or so, I have noticed a lot of wasp activity around the oak (species) tree that over hangs our garden. The wasps are mainly high up, buzzing around the branches, occasionally flying off.

Today I managed to get a relatively close up picture of a couple of the wasps. I think they might be the German Wasp, because of the hairy head and thorax. The yellow marking on the face in this species also bears three black dots, but none of the pictures were clear enough to show this. These wasps make a nest made from chewed up plant fibers and produce a chemical which repels ants, which the secret at the base to prevent ants invading the nest.
What was particularly strange is that a few metres away, an apple tree overhangs our garden. On the shed roof is a pile of windfall apples and yet the wasps showed no interest in them.

Like the common wasp, these worker wasps collect insects and caterpilars to feed their young (earlier in the year) and so these an benificial insects

Monday, 8 November 2010

Winter bees

 A sunny weekend and the odd bumble bee is still active in my back garden, visiting the Hebe. I also noticed one checking out flowers in the front garden too.

I heard recently that scientists are investigating the growing phenomenon of bumblebees remaining active throughout the winter. They believe this may be due to the recent warmer winters, linked to climate change, also our passion for gardening. With the increasing popularity of exotic plant species and winter flowering shrubs, flowering plants are available in the winter from which bees can collect food. The species they have been monitoring is the buff-tailed bumble bee.

Another theory being explored is that the bees may be hybridising with foreign bees, which remain active in winter. It is thought that these may have escaped into the wild after being imported into Britain to help with the pollination of crops in poly tunnels.
The "winter bees" seem to be an entirely urban or suburban phenomenon. It appears that the queen bee only goes into a mini hibernation in October and then starts foraging again, rather than sleeping through the winter and waking up in March. However this could leave these bees
particularly vulnerable and a severe cold snap could be devastating to a species that is already struggling.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Yellow Iris Seed Pods

The seed pods of the yellow iris growing in my pond have started to split open.
Autumn is a great time for taking arty shots of nature as it prepares for the winter

Friday, 5 November 2010


Jays love acorns and this often leads to some quite close observation of this relatively shy, colourful member of the crow family.
I have seen and heard a jay in the oak tree that over hangs our garden on and off for the last couple of weeks.
Today however there a great commotion as three jays chased each other back and forth from the tree to the garage roof.

No need to fight over the acorns as there are more than enough to go around - even for the wood pigeons that also visit the tree.

Eventually there was only one left.
Jays frequently bury acorns and dig them up later.I have noticed small holes in our front lawn and had previously blamed squirrels, but this may have been caused by jays retrieving their stash of acorns.

Jays have a rather bad reputation as like other members of the crow family they will also feed on the nestlings of other birds