Thursday, 29 June 2017

30 Days Wild day 23- Bullfinch

I walked to a friend's house for lunch today, and part of the route took me along the side of a supermarket car park, lined with small conifers. I was walking along, not really paying much attention, when I heard bird noises coming from one of the trees. It was a pair of bullfinches. I don't often see them- despite the bright colours of the male they are relatively quiet and unobtrusive. They are also in decline, with the UK population 36% lower than it was in 1967. So seeing these charasmatic little birds was a treat, and demonstrated that even the unlikeliest places can provide habitat for wildlife.

Adult male bullfinch
By © Francis C. Franklin / CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0Link

30 Days Wild day 22- Elderflower

I didn't have much time today for random acts of wildness. Various jobs which needed doing on campus and at the house before the end of term kept me busy for most of the day. But the walk between campus and my house in York is really quite special, when I stop and take notice of it.

Path running between trees, lined with cow parsley

In spring, the path is lined with flowering blackthorn and hawthorn, with garlic mustard growing tall beneath them. But in June, the elderflower and cowparsley steal the show. The air smells green and growing from nettle flowers, but if you get close enough the elderflowers cut through it all with their sweet, floral scent. The flowers are incredibly beautiful too, when you look at them closely. The 5 white petals and stamen covered in pollen make them look like tiny stars.

Close up of elderflower. The flowers look like white stars, with yellow stamen covered in pollen.

30 Days Wild day 21

The heat had died down a little today, though it was still warm enough to sit outside into the evening. Clouds had started to appear, and although they made the blue of the sky less striking, once dusk began to come down they glowed golden. Swallows, swifts and house martins darted above the lake. Every so often they swooped down, almost brushing the surface to catch insects newly emerging.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

30 Days Wild day 20- Harlow Carr

Today was my mum's birthday, so Mum and Dad came up to Yorkshire for the day and we went to RHS Harlow Carr garden in Harrogate. It's a lovely place to visit, and there is some great inspiration for wildlife gardening. So many of the flower beds were full of bees- they seemed to particularly like the catmint and salvias which were dotted around the garden.

A bumblebee on catmint (Nepeta sp.)

But we didn't only see insects. There are lots of areas within the gardens where wildflowers grow. Large stretches of grassland were interspersed with yellow rattle, which weakens the grass and allows wildflower species to grow without being out-competed. Wild orchids were dotted around: I think I saw common spotted orchids and pyramidal orchids, although my orchid identification skills need a lot of work! And there were others which I didn't recognise at all.