The last few days of May, 2013 included a Bank Holiday. Friday through to Monday was glorious; hot sun beating down. Monday turned to rain but quenched the dry ground. I had to remove a few ticks from my dogs, treating them with anti-tick medication ahead of warm moist conditions the ticks love.
I saw more common bumblebees in that time than I have seen for a while thanks to the dead nettle and pulmonaria attracting them to the garden. Today, Tuesday, it is dark with showers. The temperature is about 10 celsius, but no cold wind blowing like yesterday. Some bees still humming around the garden, despite no sun.
The common carder bee is around, for example, Bombus pascuorum, has shaggy hair and the Scottish colour form is lighter than the English, and looks very similar to the rarer moss carder bee, Bombus muscorum, which has shorter, denser hair. As there is plenty of moss here, I am hoping I am also seeing themoss carder bee, but am no expert. The black, two banded Bombus Terrestris with the white tail is the other bee I mostly see. I am trying to educate myself about identifying these important creatures, using various ID advice off the Internet. I find the National History Museum pages on bumblebees is most useful. I understand the males are not visible until Autumn, only queens and the smaller worker bees.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust are amongst many other pressure groups to be able to say they have succeeded in persuading the EU to halt the use of neonicotinoids and save our bees. The moratorium was issued on April 28th of this year. It does not start until the end of this year, so farmers will continue to spray their crops with these pesticides until December.
There are plenty of garden spiders scurrying around. When digging the garden, it is good to note worms are plentiful. Sand snails and slugs are doing well after the rain brings them out to munch at the garden plants. The white butterflies are the first to come out in larger numbers, but not profuse. Orange tip are the dominant whites just now. A rare glimpse of a small tortoiseshell butterfly emerging from the nettles, not plentiful at all, as they have been in previous years.
I crossed the burn outside our cottage, climbed over the fencing into the newly wooded area, and tramped through the wintered grasses along one of the sikes, named Weddergrain, to a small waterfall on whose banks grew masses of primroses. I photographed them for this blog, plus the cuckoo flower which is plentiful everywhere in this area.
The Spring never really happened, but as Summer approaches, everything is forcing through in a hurry to catch up. All wildlife activity is at least one month later than it was last year. I have not heard a cuckoo, and usually do as the cuckoo flowers growth co-incides with its arrival. Swallows have made forays over our cottage, but only the couple who no doubt are the same pair who nested here last year, have reconnoitered our generator shed, whose door is now firmly shut since we had electricity installed a month ago. But there are still holes for them to get in the building. The conditions are still not attractive enough for them to get started.
22nd May was Biodiversity Day. David Attenborough launched a report to highlight the work of all the different conservation groups who have come together to produce detailed analysis of the status of species since 1950 in the UK. The news is not all bad, and it is a great relief to see species recovering thanks to a great effort of educating the UK population about the importance of thinking first before we destroy more essential habitat for wildlife. But 60 percent of wildlife have declined since the 1950s. We may never see some species again.
Quoting The State of Nature Report: Sir David Attenborough said: “This groundbreaking report is a stark warning – but it is also a sign of hope. For 60 years I have travelled the world exploring the wonders of nature and sharing that wonder with the public. But as a boy my first inspiration came from discovering the UK’s own wildlife. “Our islands have a rich diversity of habitats which support some truly amazing plants and animals. We should all be proud of the beauty we find on our own doorstep; from bluebells carpeting woodland floors and delicately patterned fritillary butterflies, to the graceful basking shark and the majestic golden eagle soaring over the Scottish mountains. “This report shows that our species are in trouble, with many declining at a worrying rate. However, we have in this country a network of passionate conservation groups supported by millions of people who love wildlife. The experts have come together today to highlight the amazing nature we have around us and to ensure that it remains here for generations to come.”
Dr Mark Eaton , a lead author on the report, said: “This report reveals that the UK’s nature is in trouble – overall we are losing wildlife at an alarming rate. “These declines are happening across all countries and UK Overseas Territories, habitats and species groups, although it is probably greatest amongst insects,
such as our moths, butterflies and beetles. Other once common species like the lesser spotted woodpecker, barbastelle bat and hedgehog are vanishing before our eyes. “Reliable data on these species goes back just fifty years, at most, but we know that there has been a historical pattern of loss in the UK going back even further. Threats including sweeping habitat loss, changes to the way we manage our countryside, and the more recent impact of climate change, have had a major impact on our wildlife, and they are not going away. “None of this work would have been possible without the army of volunteer wildlife enthusiasts
who spend their spare time surveying species and recording their findings. Our knowledge of nature in the UK would be significantly poorer without these unsung heroes. And that knowledge is the most essential tool that conservationists have.”