Monday, 19 August 2013

Practical Session Report - August

It was quite a quiet session. The lawn mower was fixed, so we could get on with collecting all the cuttings. I say we, but Sue and myself did our normal wild flower walk to see what was out and about.

Things are starting to slow down now, if the wild flowers are anything to go by. It was quite a low month for new species in flower and those that are still in flower. We did manage to find some spiders though, which made the session:

Garden spider - Araneus diadematus

Not sure about this one. Help from the Wild About Britain
forums suggest that it may be a pale member of the Metellina genus.
While the rest of the team were collecting the last of the cut grass, Sue and myself were keying out some ferns that we have on site with Ivan's fern book. So all in all a great session. The year is coming to a close now with only three practical sessions left. Until next time, enjoy whatever remains of the sunny weather :)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Parish Life - August



Predicting the weather is always problematic and it may be the reason that we, as a nation, are quite obsessed with it. Or perhaps it is the changeability that leaves us uncertain as to what will be the next forecast. I am writing this piece in the blazing heat of early July and wondering if August will be the same.

Continued dry weather brings problems for wildlife. If you are kind enough to provide bird-baths, please ensure that these are cleaned regularly and always topped up with fresh water. Birds will return to a regular provider and if this is not available, they may struggle to find another source close by. They will use water for drinking and bathing, but also a patch of dry earth can be used as a dust bath to discourage parasites, such as lice.

Plants use a variety of techniques to save water. Our Stonecrops (English and Biting) have small, succulent leaves with thick, waxy cuticles to slow down evaporation and water loss. Navelwort, which also grows on dry-stone walls, is similarly fleshy. It is so-called because the centre of the leaf resembles a navel or tummy-button; it should have a spike of yellowy-red, tubular flowers in August. It is a common plant in the west, but rarely seen in the east or north of the country.

Although bees seem fewer this year (reports suggest that honey bee populations may be down by a third) butterflies seem reasonably abundant. We have had sightings of Speckled Browns, Green-veined Whites and Peacock butterflies so far this year. Bats have once again used the church as a summer roost. Two types of droppings inside the church have indicated that we have colonies of Daubenton’s and Pipistrelle bats in residence. If you would like to be part of our enterprise in maintaining the churchyard as a haven for wildlife, please join us on Saturday 17th August, 9.30 a.m. to 12 noon. If you are interested in a tour, please call at the same time. We shall be carrying out our usual maintenance tasks, such as raking up the mown grass (we have a new grass-collecting machine, kindly donated by Lesley Maddock.) Tools and gloves, and refreshments will be available. Please come and enjoy a session looking after your local environment!

Contributed by: Liz, Coordinator