Nature Notes

What's New from our Supporters?

We love to hear what our supporters are seeing out and about in Forncett.  If you have something you'd like to share here please tell us via our email address

July 2022

Large-headed  Resin Bee:  Bee and bat man, Mick Finnemore, got in touch with us about another small bee for us to look out for. It’s not as rare as the Shrill Carder which he talked about at our Pollinator Plant Swap meeting, but nevertheless an unusual and interesting one.  

2022.Large headded bee.Photo.T FinnemoreLarge-headed Resin Bee. Photo: T. Finnemore

 It’s the Large-headed  Resin Bee (Heriades truncorm) which he spotted initially on Oxeye Daisies, and then later on yellow Fleabane, a fairly abundant wild plant around here at the height of summer.  Mick says, “It has a curious bobbing motion as it picks up pollen on its pollen brush under the abdomen.” This characteristic movement helps to identify the species.

Ragwort: The golden flowers of common ragwort are a valuable source of nectar and pollen for a huge variety of hoverflies, bees and butterflies etc. Ragwort is also the main food of the Cinnabar caterpillar, larva of the dramatic red and black Cinnabar moth. These unmistakeable gold and black stripy caterpillars are distasteful to birds, and according to Plantlife the cuckoo is the only bird that can eat them!

12586 2022.Cinnabar catapillars.Photo C WakefordCinnabar Catapillars feeding on ragwort. Photo: C Wakeford

Though this plant is usually avoided by grazing livestock, dried ragwort is dangerous, and official advice is to remove it from pastures and hay meadows. A sensible compromise for gardeners (if your wildpatch is situated away from these areas) is to leave a few plants so you can encourage and watch the Cinnabar lifecycle. The caterpillars, working from bottom to top, will completely strip the leaves and eat the flowers too, but you may like to remove any remaining flowers before they go to seed (wear gloves to handle ragwort). Cinnabar caterpillars will also eat groundsel. These dramatically coloured invertebrates pupate underground in September, to emerge as beautiful moths the following May.   

Cinnabar moth Tyria jacobaeae Wikipedia smCinnabar Moth. Photo Charles J. Sharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Buff Tip Moth: One of our supporters sent us photos he’d taken of the brilliantly camouflaged buff tip moth (Phalera bucephela). They look just like short thick birch twigs, and although fairly common, they are tricky to spot. Mainly silvery grey, they have a square cut buffy head and a buff patch at the end of the wings, which gives them their common name. This photo is of a mating pair.

2022.Buff tip. Photo K SuttonA pair of Buff Tip Moths Photo: K Sutton

Purple Loosestrife and yellow Fleabane in abundance around Supporters’ Tony and Rachel Calver’s beautiful wildlife pond.

2022.Wildlife pond.Photo C WakefordThe beauty of a large wildlife pond Photo: C Wakeford

The pond is inhabited by the Forncett edible frogs, that sound like quacking ducks in the breeding season! Read about them here.  But size doesn’t matter. Here’s an example of a more formal, newly constructed and planted small pond for wildlife. Within weeks, great crested newts had moved in. Tip: for the smaller pond choose the less vigorous native plants - many species will completely take over!

2022.Small pond.Photo C WakefordSmall, but full of life. Photo: C Wakeford

And remember to include shallower areas at the edge for bathing birds, and escape routes for inquisitive hedgehogs. 

For more information about ponds for wildlife how about coming to our meeting on 16th September 2022?  Details in Coming Events.




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