5 October 2015

Harvest Moon

The enormous harvest moon this month has been a joy to behold in this balmy Indian Summer of an Autumn.  Provided the weather continues this way we look like having a long languid  colour filled  autumn.

The meadow has been cut, dried and is now ready to be bailed.  This year the wilderness team will endeavour  to gather some cornfield annual seeds to pass on.

Butterfly and Bee surveys are coming to an end, but there are still several butterflies such as, Comma, Red Admiral and if you are very lucky Common Blue to be found.  Large numbers of new  Queen Bees are searching for over-winter nesting sites, whilst the workers are slowly dying off.

There are several species of wildflower still evident if you search, in pockets around the wilderness, including  Ragwort, Wild Geranium and Evening Primrose.

The team recently came across a perfectly shaped chamber in the floor of the spinnney that had once been a wasps nest full of combs.  It had obviously been dug up recently having been  raided by badgers and what was left was the wreckage of their visit.  What was impressive was the perfect circular shape of the chamber and the combs.

19 September 2015

Mammal Survey

Using infra red mammal cameras is a great way to monitor the presence of wild animals living in the gardens, but periodically small mammal traps are set up overnight in order to conduct a mini survey of smaller mammals.  

These traps are set at a chosen location the night before and are checked and emptied the following morning.  (Any mammals caught are released safely and unharmed the next morning.)

Off 48 traps laid, 4 mammals were caught. A Vole, shrew, and two field mice.

The meadow has now been cut and is slowly drying out after all the torrential rain.  The hay will then be gathered and baled ready to be used around the gardens.

The Information Shelter is also being prepared for the onslaught of the winter months with its first two coats of protection.  The Bee Hotel will not be treated, as it is made of hardwood and it is essential to keep pollutants away from such sensitive occupants.

24 August 2015

Wildflower Survey

We are now entering the pre-autumn equinox period of crisp azure blue skies and mellow golden yellow and lime green landscape.  I love the early morning freshness of a clean new day after a cosy nights sleep as the temperatures start to drop.  

The Equinox is the period when the sun passes from the northern hemisphere over the equator to the southern hemisphere and  vice-versa  in the spring.

This week we were fortunate to have the expert services of eminent botanist Peter Gateley to conduct  a complete survey of all the wildflowers present in the 'WilderNess'. 

Indiana Jones of Botany

1 August 2015

Autumnal Notes

On checking the blog archive, the weather changed and autumnal stirrings  commenced almost to the date, in exactly the same week last year.  Although summer faded we did have a beautiful balmy September so maybe we will again.

The meadow has past its peak now and is turning yellow and gold and preparing for harvest at the end of the month.  The team have been collecting and scattering seeds as we survey each week.  

Visitors will notice some new signage around the area explaining what the 'Wilder-Ness Project' is all about.

Wild Carrot

Some wildflowers have been in ascendancy and some in decline.  This year there is far more Carrot than 2014, but far less Viper's Bugloss. It is interesting to speculate why this is so as a very broad seeding took place in the early spring.

Field Scabious

Great Willowherb

5 Spot Burnet Moth

There has been an increase in the abundance of bees and butterflies and for the first time bumblebees have been included in the fortnightly surveys.  Despite adding two new species to the list,  again some species have hardly appeared this year such as the Peacock butterfly.  In 2013 there were very large numbers, this year we were lucky to spot ones or twos.  Peacock butterflies  exclusively breed  on nettles and there has been a heavy clearance of them in the gardens so this may have been a contributory factor. 

Slowly the birds are disappearing as the summer fades.  All the adult swifts have left for Africa leaving their young to follow on after.  They must be hard wired in the genetic memory to follow without guidance from their parents half way across the world.

The Robin and Wren are making quiet autumnal  noises in the trees and shrubs and soon the blackbirds will be back squabbling over the ripening rowan berries and blackberries.

The team now have 2 new volunteers on the Wilderness Project, Gill and Tom.  Both are very welcome help in the sometimes overwhelming amount of work that needs to done in maintaining the meadow.

17 July 2015

Butterfly spotting

There is so much to see and survey  in the 'Wilder-ness' that it is sometimes difficult to relax and enjoy the beautiful  vista of wildflowers.  Whilst madly taking photographic records the stress of missing something important can be a distraction. 

As other photographers will have found, the light in Ness Gardens can be very challenging and it can be difficult to find the best conditions to take that perfect image.

With so much to discover and enjoy the team are endeavoring  to put up as much signage information as possible.  There is an appreciation that  the  balance between experience of wilderness and education must ideally not impinge on the other.


Common Blue

Mid July is by far the best time to go hunting for butterflies as all this years new ones  will be on the wing.  At last we have managed to obtain a picture of a Ringlet.  It is a very difficult one to find because of its ability to merge with its environment.  Nettle beds and brambles are very fruitful places to look for butterflies.

Meadow Brown
Red-tailed Bumblebee