30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Twenty-six.

103978469_3891626427576127_4930657406489477803_o (1)Day 26: For today’s 30 Days Wild, David and I spent a leisurely two hours walking around the recently re-opened Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve. It had been closed since February 2021 due to the River Alt bursting its banks and flooding the reserve. Lunt Meadows is a flood storage area but I don’t think visitors thought it would be closed for so long! It was nice to be back and see the changes the volunteers and Wildlife Trusts’ have made to the site. New pools and paths and lots of wildflowers had been sown. I took David’s camera along with us and below are a few of my snaps. 

Where is your favourite nature reserve?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Twenty-two.

104131707_3891626307576139_3708370680052442488_oDay 22: This week is National Insect Week, an initiative by the Royal Entomological Society, to highlight the conservation of insects. To celebrate this event, I decided to do a pitfall trap in the yarden. Here’s what I found!

On lifting out the cup from the pitfall I discovered many springtails, no longer considered insects but hexapods, and one scared woodlouse which is a crustacean.  

Have you tried a pitfall trap yourself? If so what species did you discover?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Twenty-one.

83241275_3891626297576140_5949538545065910688_oDay 21: A new series for 30 Days Wild 2021, Mindful Mondays, were we take time out of our busy days and slow down, breathe and experience nature each sense at a time. 

Today is the Summer Solstice. The UK will have 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight. The sun will rise at 4.52am and will set at 9.26pm. The solstice marks the beginning of astronomical summer. Sadly, the hours of daylight after the Longest Day become shorter.

For today’s Mindful Monday, I shall watch the sunset.

I’ve not been particularly successful in catching sunsets, below is one a few weeks ago. Tonight, on the longest day, I shall watch as the sun dips beyond the horizon and savoir the last light of this solstice.

Sunset

How will you be celebrating the Summer Solstice?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Twenty.

103963342_3891626257576144_6629027606530117153_oDay 20: As part of The Wildlife Trust’ Big Wild Weekend, for 30 days Wild, today is the Big Wild Quiz!

At 3pm there is a Big Wild Kid’s Quiz. Then at 7pm the Big Wild Quiz, for adults! David and I joined in last years quiz and it was very enjoyable. A perfect way to spend a Sunday. So this year we will be tuning in once again.

big wild quiz

Will you be joining in?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Thirteen.

104360876_3891626050909498_6041332631517181594_oDay 13: Today’s 30 Days Wild from The Wildlife Trusts’ is all about wildflowers.

David, Riley and I today visited a wonderful budding wildflower meadow in our local park, The Mystery. Part of the Scouse Flowerhouse, a Liverpool City Council lead initiative to create wildflower gateways. Our local park is one of a few new sites in 2021. So we headed out early to try and capture some beautiful wildflowers.

The predominant flowers were ox-eye daisy, field poppy and cornflower. The bees loved them!

wildflowers

wildflowers

Have you spotted any wildflower meadows where you live?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Twelve.

104214819_3891626034242833_5186181618105668430_oDay 12: For today’s 30 Days Wild from The Wildlife Trusts’ I am going to go pond dipping in my little pond to see if there is any life among its waters. 

In 2016 David and I created a washing up bowl pond to encourage aquatic wildlife to the yarden. With limited space this was the best solution. We planted the bowl in some soil with plants around, and bought an oxygenating plant, then left the pond to its devices. 

Over the years we have had mosquito, hoverfly larvae and even a little frog! Here’s what I found living in our pond in 2021. 

The pond dipping experience was a little disappointing actually. I fear my pond is getting slightly stagnant and the oxygenating plant isn’t doing its job very well! All I found was tiny little critters swimming around, I think they were water fleas.

Water fleas?

Water fleas?

Water flees or Daphnia are small aquatic crustaceans. They are filter feeders and can benefit ponds by eating organic matter. So maybe their presence in our pond is a positive after all. 

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Four.

04Day 4: Continuing a theme from the past two years, Close Up, where I throw a spotlight on a given species and delve a little deeper. These Close up days will be on Fridays for 2021!

Today’s Close Up will be all about one of my favourite insects: hoverflies!

Hoverflies or Syrphidae are known as true flies in the order of Diptera (having only one pair of wings). There are around 280 hoverfly species in the UK, which are active between the months of March to November. They are an excellent example of mimics (Batesian). The adults mimic the yellow and black stripes of bees and wasps (but are harmless), while their larvae mimic slugs, therefore looking undesirable food for a predator.

The life cycle of a hoverfly is that of a fly: adult, egg, larvae and pupa. While some adults feed on dead insects, the majority feed on nectar and pollen. Hoverflies are an underrated champion of pollination. Recent studies have shown that hoverflies pollinate flowers, trees and grasses. Whereas hoverfly larvae are helpful in the garden by eating unwanted aphids and other pests, while some larvae feed on fungi and parasitise bumblebee nests. For the conclusion of this post I shall focus on the larvae that are aquatic.

rat tailed maggot microsopy.uk.org

rat tailed maggot microsopy.uk.org

Buzz Club have an initiative to create Hoverfly Lagoons. These lagoons are to aid hoverflies with aquatic larvae to find appropriate breeding environments. Some larvae of hoverfly species prefer to eat the detritus of decaying matter, hence the creation of stagnant pools. Unfortunately named rat-tailed maggots, these larvae of the Myathropa and Helophilus and the drone fly (Eristalis) have tail like snorkels  which help them breathe, while they enjoy the aquatic environment and eat rotten plant matter. Ellen Rothery and Dave Goulson have created some great hoverflies lagoons. Here’s more information on creating a hoverfly lagoon for yourself.

For this years 30 Days Wild, I have tried to recreate a hoverfly lagoon myself. In the past our small pond has been a welcome habitat for hoverfly larvae but I wanted to try my hand at creating a hoverfly lagoon from scratch. I used an old ceramic container, some grass cuttings, (I got from the local park), twigs (for the adults to land on), a handful of leaf litter and some water. I’ll survey near the end of 30 Days Wild and let you know if I get any success in finding any hoverfly larvae!

Have you created a hoverfly lagoon?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx


Further Reading:

RSPB

BNA

Microscopy UK

Wildlife Gardening Forum

Pollinator Project 

Buzz Club  

Nature Spot 

Bumblebee.org

EcoRecord