Friday, 30 May 2014

Garden snails are fun and good science

I will soon be speaking at a South East Grid for Learning Teachers Conference about habitat mapping in school grounds, to help wildlife and as a teaching resource.
I needed some photographs to support some of the activities. One particular activity great for urban schools with little green space is a study on garden snails. So I photographed part of the activity in my garden - collected some snails painted numbers on them and then allowed them to climb out of the pot and then i recorded where the snails went.

As a project for schools, pupils can speculate where they think the  snails will go (and why) and then evaluate their finds and what they have learned about the habitat requirement of snails.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Bees and ants

The red mason bees are still busy nesting in the 'bee hotel'
Activity is not high as several bees are nesting at the same time and coming and going are frequent.

The pollen on the underside of the abdomen and occasionally you can see a bee carry a mouthful of  mud to construct the cells.

The black ants in our garden are also busy, but in a different way as they colect food and clean up the remains of dead invertebrates.
These ants are cutting up the dead remains of this damselfly

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Blackbird, damselfly and mason bees.

We have blackbirds nesting nearby and the male is often in our back garden looking for worms. 
Here he is tackling a large earthworm  which it took several minutes to subdue to fly off with, it looked like it was going to give up on a couple of occasions, but persevered

The large red damselflies have emerged from our pond, this one is resting on an ornament next to the pond.

The red mason bees are still busy making their nests in the 'bee hotel' 
Mason bees do not have pollen baskets like honey bees or bumble bees, instead they carry it on their body which you can see on the returning bee above.
Lots going on in our greenhouse. Things to eat, plants for the window boxes and also sunflowers which i would miss if we did not have at least a few each year. Good for the bees and birds too.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sea gull neighbours

For teh last few years I have been following the herring gull nest sites that I could see from our garden. One on a chimney behind our garden and a roof top seen from teh front garden.

This year another pair of gulls have moved in behind our house, 2 houses away from the original pair.
 This morning they were mating on the conservatory roof in the garden behind ours.

Later one of the gulls, probably the male, came foraging in our garden.

Gulls rarely come into our back garden as its so small and requires almost a vertical take off to get back out.
Returning to the roof top with a mouthful of grass

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Ant nest

Ant nest on our rockery - ant larvae tended by worker ants

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Foraging great tits

Great tits have been very vocal in the neighborhood

Today two great tits visited the garden, searching in all the flower pots and tubs

They hunted in the cotteneaster, finding tiny green caterpillars

The also found food in the shrubs and next door neighbours tree.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Early bees nesting

Early bees have started to nest in the hole in the shed
Last year red tailed bumble bees nested inside

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Red mason bees nesting

Several red mason bees have been visiting the bee hotel the last few days.

These bees pair up (they are solitary rather than social) and lay their eggs in special cells constructed in the hollow tubes in the bee hotel.

The red mason bees carry mud to make then cells and deposit and egg and food in each.

They will eventually block off the end of the tube protecting the eggs until next spring when the new adult bees will emerge.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Bees visiting my blue berry bush

Bees are very active in the garden now. Over the last few days I have noticed 4 types of bee visiting the flowers on the blue berry bush. I have not managed to see what bees visited in earlier years.

 This solitary bee was the first bee I noticed, not sure of the species, many are very hard to distinguish (250 UK species in total)

 This is a red mason bee. This species nested in my bee hotel last year and they are just beginning to be active again this year

 A queen red tailed bumble bee

A common carder bee

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Buzzards and goldfinch

The Buzzards are a regular occurrence whether they pass relatively low or are tiny dots in the sky, they always. 

The goldfinches are very active with courtship and very vocal and visible. I have noticed several pairs so far.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Great tits and bees

My garden is now alive with live. All the spawn has developed into tadpoles. Lots of birds are active and very vocal.
Great tits are frequent visitors to my garden and their 'see-saw ' call echos from other gardens.

This one has a meal, looks like a spider.

Queen bees, buff tails and red tailed have been visiting the garden for a few weeks, looking for nest sites, this one is visiting the rosemary 
Honey bees  are visiting in large numbers, this one is on grape hyacinth

Red Kite

Great sighting of a red kite over my garden. I was alerted by the raucous swirling herring gulls which usually heralds the passing over of a buzzard (which has become increasingly common).
I was expecting a buzzard as being the cause and was delighted to see stunning bird of prey circling quite low but gaining height. 
The Red kite slowly drifted in a northerly direction towards the South Downs

I have only seen a red kite over my garden once before, back in May 2009

Red kite are making a very good comeback in Sussex and the UK, but they are still a rare sight over Portslade

Saturday, 15 March 2014

hairy footred bee

Male  hairy footed bees have been visiting the pulmonary plants for a couple of weeks now. This is the first female.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Peacock butterfly

The first peacock butterfly in my garden, sunning itself on the rockery. 
This beautiful butterfly with its mimic eye spots over winters as an adult

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Tortoiseshell Butterfly

A queen bumble bee, probably buff tailed, visited our garden briefly.

A small tortoiseshell butterfly visited our garden several times during the day - settling on the Hebe.
I have seen red admiral butterflies on a few occasions this year, but this is the first tortoiseshell.