#30DaysWild – Day 8 Left the car at home

Hi Everyone,

So it’s Day 8 of #30DaysWild and today I tried something different, and it’s something we should I do once in a while, I left the car at home.

Normally I will pick my wife up from work in the car, but today I decided against it, and walked instead.

At first I thought about taking my camera, but I didn’t want to be bogged down with it, plus I would have been more concerned with getting an actual photo for the blog rather than enjoying everything around me, I didn’t even get my phone out to take a snap, instead I just walked, with my senses tuned into THE WILD.

As I walked, I went past the freshly cut fields, I could see birds foraging for worms, a light breeze was cutting through the trees, making that soft rustling sound, not too loud to drown out the sound of the bird song, just enough to accompany it.

As I ventured on further, I was met by explosions of colour and fragrance from each garden I would pass. The Erumpant Rose buds starting to show what they have been hiding away for the past few months, flowers blooming everywhere, reds, purples, yellows and greens, the gardens were alive!

One garden in particular was full of Bees, these pollinating machines were popping their heads in and out of flowers, on a mission to gather as much pollen as possible it seemed. In others there were Butterflies, sunning themselves and feeding on Lavender. I saw 10 species of Birds, 3 species of Bee, 4 species of Butterfly, and countless other Insects, all in the space of a 30 minute walk.

All of this I would have missed if I had taken the car, not only that, I was getting myself and the environment a tad healthier by walking and leaving the car at home.

Why don’t you leave the car and cameras at home for one day during the challenge. It will be worth it.

Matt

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#30DaysWild – Day 3 #WhatsInYourGarden

Hi everyone,

Let’s just take a second to welcome back Mr Sun, Today was glorious! As I drove to work at 5am this morning the sun had just risen, some light mist on the fields, the roads were clear and the only sound you could hear was the dawn chorus of the birds…..Stunning.

The day got better, I was promoted at work 🙂 Wahoo! The elation was short lived however, after arriving home and discovering we had a leak from the bathroom. The kitchen was flooded! Disaster! It completely put a spanner in the works for our Day 3.

So, after the plumber had been it didn’t leave us much time to get out and into the WILD.

I do another blog called #WhatsInYourGarden on a Wednesday or Thursday so I decided to merge the two blogs for Day 3 of #30DaysWild.

So #WhatsInYourGarden……….Red Ants….Quick RUUUUUUUN!

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Well that’s the 1st thing most people do, these Ants have a bad name. Why? Because they pack a painful sting! Only if they feel threatened or you disturb a nest though.

One of the most common Ant species we get in the garden, The Red Ant, Myrmica rubra, is around 4-5mm big. It favours garden soil and lawns but will form colonies under stones and rotting wood.

For me, Ants are without doubt the best insect to watch in your garden. Just spend 10 minutes each day in a different section of your garden and you are guaranteed to see an Ant carrying out its particular job.

One may be carrying a diseased or dead Ant away from the colony.

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One may be bringing back supplies.

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However ambitious.

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You may find some grazing on near by plants.

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and if you’re really lucky, one surfing 😉

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They truly are fascinating to watch, but don’t take my word for it, watch this video I filmed today of two Ants dissecting a small fly, using those powerful mandibles to rip off its wings. Sorry about the background music.

 

Enjoy

Matt

What’s in your garden – You tell me!

Hi Everyone,

So it’s a new week and with the return of BBC Springwatch, Unsprung and Extra to our TV screens it seems Social Media has burst alive with Nature Enthusiast, conservationists and photographers each sharing stories, pictures and events! I love this time of year!!!

As I continue to do these blogs each week, introducing you to species that you can find in your own back garden, I have decided to make it a hashtag campaign. I will be opening up the wall on my facebook page until Autumn for you all to post pictures and stories of #WhatsInYourGarden. Hopefully by doing this we can show how diverse the wildlife is in each garden across the country, even the world. This will also give you a great excuse to get out in the garden, get the children involved and make a positive contribution the Natural World. Simply pop a picture/story on my facebook page, your own facebook/instagram/twitter or a link to your blog or page, whatever it may be. Try to identify the species and where exactly it was taken. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #WhatsInYourGarden. It doesn’t have to be just Insects, although I do love them, it could be Birds or small Mammals, any wildlife that’s in your garden.

Ant with Larva

 

You may find yourself saying “I have no wildlife in my garden”, if so then I urge you to take a closer look, not only that, try and encourage wildlife into your garden. You can do this relatively cheap. A few bedding plants and other flora carefully planted will triumph and bloom into a spectacular array of colour and fragrance and this will be great for attracting Bees, Butterflies and other flying Insects into your garden, which in turn would attract birds. Bug hotels can be constructed quite easily from bits of broken wood and bricks, bird boxes can also be purchased for under £10.   A bird feeder and food could also be purchased from the local pound stores. For a small inexpensive price you could have your garden teaming with wildlife, and believe me when I say nothing is more satisfying than watching a garden alive with wildlife out of your window.  The inquisitive and excited faces of your children as they point,laugh and research what they find and see, watching each little bird lurking, seemingly gambling its chance to fly down to the feeders to secure a quick meal, Butterflies soaring and swooping over the flower beds, Bees actively pollinating your garden, it truly is a beautiful sight. Do this and you are guaranteed wildlife magic in your garden.

So I hope you join me in exploring exactly #WhatsInYourGarden.

Matt

Solitary Bee

What’s in your garden – Solitary Bees

Hi everyone,

I’m back again with this weeks installment of ‘What’s in your garden’. Today I would like to show you one of my all time favourites, The Solitary Bee.

There are over 200 different species of Solitary Bee in the Britain, it is usually the first species of Bee to be seen in our gardens, as early as march. When feeding on pollen and nectar the hairy bodies of these cute little bees and hairy hind legs are covered, the pollen is then often carried back to the nest.

FACT – Only females are equipped to carry the pollen.

These little beauties usually make their nests in the ground. The female will dig the nest and stock up her pollen and nectar before sealing it back up leaving the young with a nice starter a meal.

Mining Bee

These Bees are excellent pollinators and having them in your garden will do wonders for your Flora.

Now, why are they called Solitary Bees? Well the Answer lies within the name. They are Solitary. They are not social Bees like our Honeybee or Bumblebee, although you may find lots of nests together when a piece of prime real estate is on the market. Nest sites are likely to be in the lawn or where there is bare soil. The nest tunnel is vertical and is usually topped by a mound of fine soil with a hole in the top to get in and out. These Bees can vary in size from 3mm up-to 15mm.

These Bees do have a sting but very rarely use it. They are quite harmless and not aggressive at all.

To attract these little cute fluffy Bees to your garden is quite simple. Lots and lots of flowers will help, but you could also construct or buy a bug hotel. These normally come with chambers made from bamboo for the Bees to make a nest. You could also leave any dandelions that pop up in your garden for as long as possible to help give these Bees a kick start in the early spring.

So here it is, a beautiful portrait of a Solitary Bee in my back garden on a Dandelion.

As normal any question please ask.

Macro Matt.

Solitary Bee

#Day51 of #100DaysofNature

Hi all,

Well what a day today has turned out to be,

!!!!!!!!!!!!BBC Autumnwatch have invited me to feature on the Autumnwatch Extra (red button) show and possibly Unsprung to discuss this challenge and showcase some photos, I AM SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, onto today, #Day51 and how ironic that after me writing that we had no Butterflies in the garden in yesterdays post, one happened to appear today.

I was busy trying to photograph a spider that was tucking into a recently snared froghopper when this beauty landed on the girls pink sandpit.

Not the best of places for a photograph but having one of these in the 100days is better than none. This is a Speckled Wood, Pararge Aegeria.

The cream-on-chocolate wings of the Speckled Wood make this an easy butterfly to identify. Females have larger yellow patches than the male, while later broods of both sexes tend to be darker than those that emerge earlier in the year.

Typically a common butterfly of woodland rides and glades, but can also be found in hedgegrows and even in gardens like mine 🙂 (Source Wild Guides Britains Butterflies)

So here it is, The Speckled Wood.

Enjoy

Matt

#Day50 of #100DaysofNature

Hi everybody,

So here it is, the half way point, #Day50 of #100DaysofNature, yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

Sorry lol, but I’m very pleased with myself for getting this far. When I started this challenge 50 days ago I had no idea what I was about to uncover in my own backgarden, yes we all know there are spiders and caterpillars etc but when you delve deeper, when you sit and watch just one patch of grass or one bushy area you begin to see a whole different world, it’s quite amazing.

I’ve had lots of questions sent via facebook and flickr regarding my garden. A lot of people assume that because of the variety of species I’m finding that I live in a country house or have a huge jungle of garden, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. I live on a council estate, my garden is just like yours. 

It’s an active, used garden. Full of kids toys, swings, garden shed etc, Nothing out of the ordinary. The only thing is we don’t use any chemicals, and we tend to just let things grow, no matter what it is, and this seems to have an effect on the wildlife living in it.

One thing you will notice in our garden is the lack of colour, and this is also reflected in my 1st 50 days, no Butterfly’s or Bee’s, it’s too late to start planting flowers now but next year we plan on using the wildflower seed pack we got from the RSPB butterfly feeder to grow a patch of land and make it our little personal meadow, maybe this will attract new wildlife.

I have also not had any birds in the garden despite filling up and changing the feeders regularly, I hope however this will change as the winter nights draw in and birds start searching more actively for food as it gets cold and the Insects begin to disappear.

It’s been a real eye opener and My family and I have learned so so much. My 2 young girls have always had a keen interest in Nature and this challenge has cemented that.

(Jasmine with a frog in the garden)

When I asked Jasmine(6) what she want’s to be when she grows up she replied a ‘Bug Hunter’ just like you daddy, when I asked Amber(4) what she wanted to be when she grows up she replied ‘a Butterfly’ haha that will do for me 🙂

(Amber with her ladybird friend)

I hope you have enjoyed this blog upto now, I know I have, it’s been tiring doing this after work every night but it’s so worth it. I have updated various ID’s that I got wrong and/or didn’t ID in the 1st place, there is some still outstanding though which I hope to ID before day 100.

So, thank you for following, sharing, liking and reading this blog and my pictures, it means a lot, and thank you once again to BBC Springwatch, without you putting these challenges out there things like this would never happen.

Now, onto #Day50, another bug from the ugly big ball again lol.

This is a Common Striped Woodlouse, Philoscia muscorum, An active woodlouse found in damp leaf litter and under flowerpots, very common and widespread. Adult is grey-brown with a dark head and dorsal stripe.

Enjoy

Matt

#Day46 of #100DaysofNature

Hi all,

So, if you have been keeping up-to date with the #100daysofnature challenge started by the #BBCSpringwatch team then you should be at day 50, However I had a break to France for 4 days so my challenge was put on hold until I got back. I promised to give you 100 species just from my garden and up-to now I am doing quite well 🙂

Now….Who’s hungry? Have you ever tried caterpillar/larvae before? No? me neither, but this shield bug and other predatory insects love them.

This is today’s species, The Bronze Shield Bug, Troilus luridus. This one is at it’s Early Instar stage of development.

It’s a large predatory shieldbug in it’s adult form and has an orange band on the penultimate antennal segment, legs are usually brown and the scutellum lacks an orange tip.

So, here it is 🙂 #Day46…oh and again a new find for garden.

Enjoy

Matt