More of the same – this weeks adventures

This week has been another busy week, I’ve been setting up bumblebee transects around the island so that the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s Beewalk surveys can be included in our survey programme this year.

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Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) queen laden with mites. These don’t harm the bee unless there are so many they become too heavy for her to fly. They feed on pollen and other debris in bumblebee nests. When the nest dies off in the autumn, they hitch a lift with the queen as she hibernates and wait for her to emerge and set up a new nest in the spring!

Warning: Lots of acronyms coming up!

The Alderney Wildlife Trust (AWT) participate in a number of regular surveys every year including Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) Field Surveys in July, The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)’s Breeding Birds Survey (BBS) and Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) and our own Long-Eared Owl monitoring programme. As well as adding bumblebee surveys to the programme this year, I also hope to be able to carry our baseline vegetation and floralistic surveys in our Longis Reserve using Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) Phase I and National Vegetation Classification (NVC) methodologies. Add some dabbling in moth trapping, pond surveying and pitfall trapping for beetles and I’m going to have a pretty busy season!

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View down to Crabbie and the breakwater from the Community Woodland at dusk

On Tuesday I went out for the first Long-Eared Owl survey of the year. No owls sadly but I did take a bat detector with me and discovered that there is a fair amount of activity on mild days now. I led an early bat and hedgehog walk this Friday for some visitors but unfortunately the weather had turned colder and the wind picked up meaning that there was no sign of any bats or hedgehogs!

On the practical side of things I have got in some good practice at using the tractor and topper and flail in the last couple of weeks and also got going on our garden at the farm and my veg patch. I’m very excited to see how things grow over the next few months!

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Tractor time on a sunny day
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My new raised bed with some rows planted with veg already – beetroot, cabbage, broad beans, carrots, turnips, spring onion and lettuce
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All sorts of veg sown and waiting for germination – courgettes, tomatoes, lettuces and broccoli

Every day there have been more and more signs that spring is here – some of the things I have spotted this week:

Local flora happy families

  • Boraginaceae
  • Geraniaceae
  • Brassicaceae

Some interesting invertebrates

I was especially excited to find the Glanville Fritillary nest as this is a rare species in the UK, confined to a few populations on the south coast. They are a pretty butterfly with complex patterning on their wings like most fritillaries. The larvae feed solely on Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and the butterflies can be found at a few spots on Alderney. These were right by the road in the Longis Reserve, I’ll try and keep my eye on them over the next few months. The caterpillars will mature towards mid-April and pupate between mid-April and May. Adults are usually seen on the wing around theĀ end of May to beginning of June.

Of course there have also been some wild food adventures this week including wild salads and fresh nettle soup!

 

Finally I’ll finish again with this weeks moths: Only 3 this week, Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) and Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) again and a new one – Early Grey (Xylocampa areola). Apologies for the repetition but I’m doing this so that I learn to recognise them and get familiar with their names so you’ll have to bear with me!

I’m looking forward to next week and getting some more tractor time and enjoying the spring sun (hopefully!)

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The sun beaming down on the inner harbour last week
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