Sunday, 28 June 2015

New Species

The Summer Solistice has passed and the season is already starting to wind down as the daylight hours get shorter.  Despite, June and July are the peak months for seeing a large variety of wildflowers, bees and butterflies.  The meadow is looking rich and verdant with growth and the special beds are particularly rich in colour. 

Two new species of butterfly have been recorded for the first time at Ness in the Wilderness.

The Brimstone Butterfly who particularly  favours  the plant Alder Buckthorn which was especially planted three years ago. The second one, Ringlet is very much an exciting find but despite much effort and energy we still do not have a photograph yet.  There are fewer butterflies recorded in Cheshire this year, possibly due to the late spring. Despite this bumblebees seem to have done quite well.


The bee hotel is also creating much excitement as bees and mammals have already moved  inA weasel recently poked its head out at one of the team as they walked past.

Having selected a suitable cavity the bees reverse backwards into the hole and lay eggs at intervals along the length.  The hole is then sealed off with mud until the larvae hatch and dig their way out.

Most of the baby birds have fledged and left the nest but one or two sparrows and blackbirds are still stilling sitting on late eggs.  On the ponds at Ness we can still observe very tiny coot and duck chicks.

Tall Hogweed is now towering over the avenues of seeding Cow Parsley.  This in turn will be  towered over by random stems of Giant Hogweed.(Cow parsley appears like an open umbrella  the correct way up, Hogweed looks like the wind has blown it inside out.)

Monday, 15 June 2015

Mobility Scooter

Well done the 'FRIENDS' of Ness Gardens, getting such wonderful mobility scooters.  As a volunteer I was resigned to weeks of not being able to get to the meadow (broken foot) at the most beautiful time when all of our previous months hard work is coming to fruition. It was great whizzing around most of the usual places.  The only problem I had was everyone else wanting a go.  Eventually I was hijacked by our leader.

Now is a great time to start watching the different growing stages of the meadow.  Posters have been installed in the Information Shelter of what to look out for.

More and more butterflies and bumblebees can be seen  in and around their favourite nectar bearing flowers.

Small Tortoiseshell
Many birds are now onto second and third broods and the bushes and shrubs echo to the sound of constant badgering mutterings of  fledglings waiting to be fed.   At this stage the male adult bird  carries on feeding whilst the female lays another clutch of eggs.

Red-tailed Bumblebee

During the last short period of sunshine some of the adult birds could be seen chilling out and sunbathing in the warmth.  One magpie I could see was  panting in the heat.

What to look out for :

 Solitary Bee

Damsel Fly

Friday, 29 May 2015

Summer is in

As the swifts announced very loudly last week summer is in, which of course means heavy showers and rain.  Nevertheless this is good news for the meadow as all the autumn winter planting is now beginning to flower.  From May onwards it will be difficult to keep up with the finds but we will endeavour to feature as many as we can over the coming weeks.

Common Blue
Over the next few weeks there will be fewer butterflies as last years adults die away and the new caterpillars have yet to metamorphise. 
Peacock Butterfly

As May slips into June the wildflowers appear in increasing numbers so now is great time to study what is happening in the meadow and  discover if we have succeeded in our planting. Hopefully some new species will appear to add to last years list.  This in turn will attract a wider range of plant specific insects and butterflies.

Four Spotted Darter

Ragged Robin

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Bluebells and Bats in profusion

The 1000 bluebells planted last autumn have blossomed in their first season  the Spinney.

Everywhere is draped in white veils of blackthorn and hawthorn blossom broken by spots and strips of golden yellow gorse.  The trees  too soon  are loosing their blossom in the wild wind and deluge of rain and the ground is carpeted in multi-coloured petals.

Solitary Queen bumblees can seen digging holes for their nests in the sandstone in and around the waterfall.

Pink Campion

Meadow Buttercup

May is a great time to start searching for the smaller, more delicate wildflowers as they have the light and space to propagate before becoming overwhelmed later in the summer by bigger and more lush relatives. 

Ones to look out for include :

Lily of the Valley, For-get-me-not, Fritillary,Common Butterwort, Yellow Rattle, Comfrey,Wood Sorrel, Herb Robert.

Cow parsley

As has been  seen from  night camera photographs, Ness Gardens has a considerable active night life. What is less obvious is the large bat population that lives and feeds in the area also.    Species include :

Soprano Pipistrelle,  Noctule Bat,  Daubenton's Bat, Whiskered/Brandt's Bat,  Brown Long-eared Bat, Mouse-eared Bat. 

Monday, 27 April 2015


Wirral sandwiched as it is between the sea and two large rivers tends towards its own micro climate. The siting of Ness gives a unique panoramic experience of the sky and the subsequent weathers rolling in from the North Sea. In spring and autumn when the sun is lower the fantastic blues, and puffy, peach, cream and paynes grey cloud  formations are so easy and wonderful to observe.


Cirrus (mare's tails)

This season is  a very luscious one for wildflowers and weeds, depending on how you view these things. Both are best when it comes to supporting the biodiversity of insects, butterflies and bees.  It is time we as gardeners went with the flow and let wilderness be itself.  Sympathetic management yes, obliteration a definite no, which is what we aspire too for the 'Wilder-Ness Project'.  Already the bounty of the hard work is beginning to show !as more and more the wildflowers expand and take hold and attract bees, butterflies, bumblebees and solitary bees.  Species are  now being discovered hitherto new to Cheshire. 

The Cowslip field in the meadow is looking wonderful this year and hopefully will grow from strength to strength as it seeds and spreads.

Orange tip (male)

Orange tip (female)




There is a great crop of dandelions on the Wirral this year and these are now being left by enlightened councils to proliferate for bees and butterflies. They are not seasonal dependent therefore provide much needed food throughout the year.

  The BEE HOTEL is finished at last..............

 and new tenants have been checking it out already.