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Nature Notes

News in August 2022

RECENT EVENTS

Jubilee Celebrations Day - 4th June

We had a stall at this lively village event where we signedup eight more households, including young ornithologist Oscar’sfamily, bringing our number of biodiverse gardens to 55.Ourgiant Forncett map, where Supporters’ patches are marked, always attracts attention. Please email if you want to have your own wildlife-friendly garden mapped. We want to sign up more small patches, so if you have a small garden (or are a beginner) this excellent video from Ellie’s Wellies will get you inspired.  Size doesn’t matter to wildlife!

2022.06.04.Jubilee.Photo C Sharp 3
Spreading the word at Forncett's Jubilee celebrations. Photo: C Sharp

Pollinator Plant Swap - 20th May

This evening was popular; a wide variety of plants for all insects were donated for exchange or sale, and the four speakers kept to their brief of an interesting five to tenminutetalk. You can read some of the detail here.

St Peter’s Churchyard Plant Survey - 9th July

At St Peter’s on a hot afternoon thirteen of us recorded wildflowers in the churchyard. A total of 50 plants, including trees and grasses were identified. The close-mown areas were parched and yielded 13 flowers but we saw more in the hedge bottoms and longer grassy areas. Comparisons with last year’s forty species are unscientific as we’d surveyed a month earlier under a more favourable mowing regime looking only at flowering plants. Afterwards we enjoyed cold drinks and cake, shared with a woodmouse under the magnificent spreading oak tree.

2022.07.09.Plant survey.Photo Carol Sharp 1asm
Under the spreading oak. Photo: C Sharp

 MAKING CONNECTIONS

The Wildpatch Open Gardens around Surlingham and Rocklands St Mary were inspirational and it was heartening to meet so many people dedicated to our joint cause: improving biodiversity. The range of wildlife friendly gardens proved very beautiful and productive as well as good for Planet Earth.

Several of us have attended the excellent, free, Norfolk Wildlife Trust Wilder Connections workshops where in-depth information is shared by experts. Ongoing until autumn, it’s worthwhile looking at their programme of events.

We are delighted to report that the Eco play for children at Black Barn was well attended and enjoyed by all on a perfect June day. Full report on page 14 of the August issue of the Forncett Flyer.

WHAT’S ABOUT: Butterflies, Moths and More.

I had the good fortune to see Norfolk’s glorious Swallowtail butterflies on a trip to Hickling Broad in July; good place for bird life too. My companion introduced me to Cornell’s Merlin Birds UK (free app). Birdsongs are identified. Highly recommended!

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 leaves are also the 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!  Though this plant is usually avoided by grazing livestock, dried ragwort in hay 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, leave some plants so you can encourage and watch the Cinnabar lifecycle. I allow a few plants where feasting caterpillars strip the leaves before pupating underground in September, to emerge as beautiful moths the following May.

For information about best plants for butterflies see https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions-how-attract-butterflies-your-garden

We’re always keen to know about interesting wildlife that readers have spotted locally, so do let us know using our email address and we'll post them on the website.

 

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