Thursday, 20 June 2013

Meadows and Nectar

We have had great weather so far this week, reaching a high of 25°C on Wednesday. So we took the opportunity to get out and begin our meadow sampling and also learn a new skill...... Both our perennial and annual meadows were flowering, so here are some pictures from two of the meadows we sampled this week; Horfield Common (Perennial) and Henleaze Junior School (Annual).
Horfield Common is one of our best perennial meadows. It may look completely dominated by Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthenum vulgare) but many more of the sown species are also flowering; including Meadow Buttercup (Ranunuclus acris), Wild Carrot (Daucus carota), Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra), Red Campion (Silene Dioica) and Vipers Bugloss (Echium vulgare).

Me (Ryan) and Helen having a closer look at the meadow before we get started.
The only flowering Vipers Bugloss in the entire meadow, it took a while to find amongst all the Oxeye Daisy. 
Helen in action, taking a swing at a pollinator on a Oxeye Daisy.
One of our annual meadows at Henleaze, our annuals aren't as far a long as our perennials . But the pollinators are already buzzing around the Virginia Stock (Malcolmia maritima) and Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) that is flowering. 
Me (Ryan) posing for the camera whilst kitting myself up to catch some pollinators at Henleaze.
We were also lucky enough to be given a lesson on how to gather nectar from plants. This will allow us to see which plants carry the most nectar and are most attractive to pollinators, adding another dimension to our data. Here are some pictures of us learning how to gather nectar just like a bee!

Before we could begin collecting nectar we had to bag some flowers for 24 hours, this prevents any insects getting to them allowing the nectaries to refill.
We returned 24 hours later to have a go at collecting the nectar. 
The first step is to remove an individual flower from the head, which is what I am attempting here.
The second step is to extract the nectar from the flower, this flower was so small  Helen had to rinse the flower. The nectar is then extracted with a capillary tube which draws the nectar out.
After the 3 days of glorious sunshine it seems the bad weather has came back, so we may be stuck inside for a while. But we had such a productive few days we certainly wont be short of things to do!

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