30 Days Wild 2019 – Day 15

I saw on Twitter that volunteers are needed to spot insect ‘spittle’; my initial thought was ‘there is loads in the garden, I can do that’.  Last year on June 1st I wrote about cuckoo spit and froghoppers; so carrying on from last year’s blog, today I went out into the garden to take part in the survey. 

The reason for the survey taking place is the UK is on high alert for the Xylella fastidiosa disease which has been found in several locations in the EU.  The disease is moved from plant to plant by plant-sucking insects such as froghoppers.  By people submitting data of where they have seen either cuckoo spit or froghoppers themselves a distribution map of the potential path of the disease can be made.  I think it is important to be clear that the disease isn’t in the UK and the map created from the data will be used to make an action plan if it does ever arrive here.  Please don’t remove any of the cuckoo spit you might find as the nymph growing inside is doing no harm, it will grow into a very cute little bug 🙂

To complete the survey all you need to do is..

Log the amount of time you spend looking for spittle/spittle bugs, take note of how many spittle only / spittle with insect / adult you find on what type of plant and how many square metres you have searched.  It is also important to take a photo of the nymph if you can to submit with your data. 

To be able to see if there is an insect in the spittle you need to tease them out.  I used a bit of grass to slowly move through the spittle; the nymph leaves the spittle enough to be able to have a look at it.  Some would run off down the steam and others would move a little and freeze.

When you enter the data online, each plant species is a separate data entry so make sure you have your data separated out for each plant species.  In total I found..

Plant Spittle only Spittle with insect Adult
Lavender 15 26 0
Penstemon 0 1 0
Rosemary 3 9 0

All of the nymphs found were Meadow Spittlebug (Philaenus spumarius), you can use the ID sheet provided online to help with your identifications. 

When complete make sure you add all your data to the iRecord entry form 🙂

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day 14

I got home late this evening so didn’t get into the garden until the light was starting to fade.  I wasn’t sure what I would find, after a little searching I found what I think is a garden spider (Araneus diadematus), it was in the lavender where it had built its web.  It is tiny; only a little bigger than the aphid it was eating. 

Garden spiders are seen between June and November. 

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day 13

The fox turned up again this evening at exactly the same time, 5.31pm!  She is the same fox as there is a patch of black fur on the top section of her tail. 

I say she; I think she’s a girl but I haven’t had a clear look at her back end to find out!  She started off at the same bird feeder as yesterday but didn’t find much to eat.  I thought she had vanished behind the shed but she reappeared next to the porch and made her way in front of the door and over to the other feeder.  She found more food there as the seed the birds drop falls in between the paving slabs that I have not yet concreted in!  She stayed for a little while looking for food.  She must be really hungry to be back trying to lick up the food. 

I think she might be one of this years cubs as she seems quite small and looks very young.  Cubs of about her size have been seen out on the road – 5 of them with one of the parents!  Thankfully this one seems to be navigating the roads okay.  I don’t know if she is having issues catching food or if there just isn’t enough food about for her to catch; I have left some dog food out so she can have a little meal tonight 🙂         

 

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day 12

Over the past few weeks there has been a fox seen in the patch garden.  It has either been finishing off the cat food next to the front door or been spooked when it has been in the back garden.  No one has got a good look at it other than to say it was a fox! 

This evening I happened to look out of the window and saw it under the bird feeders. 

I quickly ran upstairs with a camera to get a photo out of one of the windows.  Thankfully I didn’t spook her by opening the window.  She looked but didn’t run. 

The birds had cleared the feeder earlier in the day so all she had to eat was scraps she could find in the grass.  I guess she must be hungry to be picking at the meagre left overs. 

She kept looking up at the feeder like she knew there was food there, but she couldn’t get at it.

 

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day 10

Today it has been raining, a lot!  As I haven’t been able to get outside to do anything ‘wild’ I have been sat at my computer planning on how to help the wild.  There isn’t a water butt in the patch garden, so this evening I have ordered one!  The house is a little odd in that all of the down pipes are in really awkward locations; the water is going to have to be collected off of the garage roof so the water butt can be located away from major walkways.  This however means I need to repair part of the guttering and clean the rest of it out.  I was looking at it the other day and there is grass growing in it, so I don’t think it is going to be the easiest of tasks.  I want to get it sorted though so I can make the most of collecting rain water and using it in the garden.  Every little bit helps 🙂

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day 09

I didn’t have any plans for today’s ‘wild’ activity, it was meant to rain and that hampered my thoughts of what I could do.  I decided to play it safe and just spend some time in the garden.  I know at some point I want to take part in the spittlebug survey so I went to have a look at the lavender to see if there was any about, strangely I didn’t find any but did come across a rosemary beetle. 

There was a lot of buzzing coming from a neighbours garden so I popped round to see if I could find out where it was coming from.  They have a plant on the fence that adjoins our garden which was covered in bees.  There must have been approx. 30-40 bees on the bush at anyone time.  Unfortunately we have no idea what plant it is but it would be great for any garden that wants to attract bees!  

As far as I could tell there were four species of bee; Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) which seemed to be the majority, honey bees which I saw two of, Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) and then Tree bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum).

Once I was back in my own garden I noticed I had a harlequin ladybird larvae on me, I knew there was blackfly and greenfly on the runner beans so I thought that would be a good place to relocate him.  I didn’t expect him to start eating them straight away.  I have never seen them feeding before 🙂

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day 08

This afternoon I searched for ladybirds in the garden.  Last weekend I spotted a couple of ladybird larvae in my Mum’s garden; she has been gardening for years but had never seen them before!  This weekend I decided to see how many she had hiding in the flowers.  After a little searching I found two 7-spots (Coccinella septempunctata) sunning themselves on some leaves…

…and then two 7-spot larvae.  Sadly one of them had passed away but the other was hunting for food.  

As I was watching I noticed some yellow in amongst the leaves, it was a 22-spot ladybird (Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata).  

Ladybirds or ladybugs (if you are American) are common in our gardens and  can be found throughout the UK. There are 46 species in the UK and the 7-spot is one of the most common.  They feed on a variety of aphid species and can usually be found where there is an influx of their food source; they can consume approx. 5500 in their lifetime! and why ladybirds are called a gardeners friend. The 22-spot on the other hand doesn’t eat aphids it feeds on mildew on a variety of plants, usually umbellifers and low-growing shrubs.

All of my finds have been added to iRecord 🙂

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day 07

We have a hazel tree in the garden and today I noticed it is starting to form this years fruit.  I like the hazel tree, it provides a lot of cover for the birds and occasionally in autumn a squirrel will come across the field and collect the nuts.  I don’t think there are a lot of hazel trees in the area, there aren’t any in the hedgerow as far as I know and the copse on the other side of the field doesn’t have any either which is a shame as it is one of our UK native trees.  Its leaves provide food for a number of moth caterpillar; I will have to have a closer look to see if there is anyone feeding on them.

The tree has got a little out of hand and probably needs to be coppiced this year to improve its health, I plan on keeping any branches to use in the garden next year 🙂 

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day 06

This morning I left for work a little earlier as I wanted to get to the patch garden with enough time to watch the feeders for a while.  Over the last couple of days both rook and starling fledgling’s have been seen earlier in the morning; I wanted to try and see them.  The rooks still haven’t got used to people being in the garden with them so I positioned myself in an upstairs window and waited…

I didn’t see any of the rooks or starlings but I was treated to the house sparrows fledging.  I haven’t seen them in the garden before so I think they fledged this morning as the parents were still collecting food and heading up to the roof where they had nested yesterday.  There were 4 or 5 balls of fluffy feathers that were bumbling their way through the hazel and white beam tree calling for food. I kept losing them in the leaves as they were continually on the move.  It was good to see them using the trees as cover as the amount of corvids that visit the garden does seem to be steadily increasing now the rooks have fledged! 

As far as I know it is only the jackdaws that are now left to fledge.  I know they are still in the chimney as they can be heard calling from within the house.  The home owners will be glad when they have fledged – who needs an alarm clock when you have jackdaws!

In other fledgling news, while I was at work walking back to the office a small bird caught my eye very close to me in a pine tree.  I stopped and watched until I could see it clearly; a fledgling chaffinch! I continued watching and one of the parents came back to feed them; I wish I had a camera with me, they were only a few feet away!

When I was leaving the car park a male pheasant chased a female to mate with her and bowled over the chick she had next to her!  Thankfully it got back up on its feet and found Mum again and went back to feeding. I need to start taking my camera to work!