Friday, 3 May 2013

Our pollinator sampling week in pictures

Here in Reading the sun was shining every day this week and after quite cold nights it warmed up nicely during the day. It seems like that we do not get any rain at the moment, good for the pollinators but bad for anything which wants to germinate (our annual meadow seeds for example). 

We started our week with sampling a nice flower-rich road verge (some people would probably say weed-rich ;-)) in Lower Earley. It was still a bit chilly but the first pollinators had already arrived and frequented the dandelion, daisy and buttercup flowers. Wild spring flowers such as dandelion and buttercup are incredible important for early pollinators and leaving road verges uncut in spring helps to provide nectar and pollen for pollinators.

Flower-rich road verge in Lower Earley

We found this beautiful Cowslip (Primula veris) meadow in Maiden Erlegh LNR in Earley this week as well. The Cowslip flowers were visited by Hairy-footed flower bees and other solitary bees.

Cowslip meadow

We also visited gardens near Palmer Park to carry out our pollinator survey. In the picture below you can see Peter catching a pollinator in a garden full of wildflowers.

We observed that most pollinators could be found in the weedier gardens. Pollinators seemed to like wildflowers such as Dandelion, Green alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens), Comfrey (Symphytum) and Forget-me-not (Myosotis) but also garden plants such as Pulmonaria. Often the immaculate gardens had no pollinators visiting at all.

A weedy front garden but teeming with pollinators
Honeybee and solitary bee visiting the dandelions in a weedy garden

We often saw Hairy-footed flower bees (Anthophora plumipes) in the gardens this week, mostly the black females which are often hovering in front of flowers.

Flower bees often hover in front of flowers

The allotment site in Tilehurst was one of our highlights this week. The weedy plot in the picture below was actually a heaven for bees. We saw Mining bees (Andrena), Mason bees (Osmia), Sweat bees (Lasioglossum), several Cuckoo bees (Nomada, Specodes) and Bumblebees (Bombus) all on this one allotment plot.

This allotment plot is a hot spot for bees

On the same allotment site we also found this beautiful Ashy mining bee (Andrena cineraria), Ellen`s favourite mining bee as she told us.

Ashy mining bee, Andrena cineraria

This bee fly (Bombylius) found the forget-me-not`s (Myosotis) irresistible:

A bee fly visiting forget-me-not flowers

The Dunnock in the picture below might look unimpressive but it had a beautiful song and did not fly away when we took this picture.

A Dunnock singing it`s beautiful song

During our pollinator sampling we normally always see Red kites circling high in the sky. The Red kite in the picture below apparently took some interest in a dog toy someone had discarded. It circled closer and closer until it actually landed on the ground but must soon have realised that the dog toy was nothing to eat.

Red kites are a common sight in Reading

We finished our sampling in a nice woodland nature reserve in Tilehurst and found this Speckled wood butterfly basking in the sunshine. Woodlands often look most beautiful in spring with Bluebells, Lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) and Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa) flowering.

Speckled wood butterfly basking in the sunshine

 All in all a good sampling week for the Reading team: lots of sunshine, nice garden owners, quite a lot of pollinators around and also some other interesting wildlife sightings.

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