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Archive for June, 2013

The chapel was deemed to be in danger of shedding the odd lump of masonry onto anyone below, so was surrounded by a protective boarding. The Indian Bean Tree just to the north of the chapel, was thought to be a bit dodgy in the branch shedding area, so has protective wooden fencing in front. The bench near the bean tree has been removed. The effect of this has been surprisingly good for wildlife.

The east side of the chapel, 11.7.2013. a wide bare a path worn through the grass.

East side of chapel 30.6.2013. Lush green growth extends out from the chapel.

Usually the whole area is walked over and sat on and the odd fire lit for late night (after the gates have been shut) companiable drinking session. The grass is trashed and flowers beaten down before they can get more than the odd flower bud out. Not this year. This year a chunk of the grass is not available for walking over and it has blossomed.

North of chapel 30.6.2013. Narrow bare path between growth.

The paths established around the obstacles are by many feet going across the area from point to point. They have left a flower meadow. At the moment it is mainly buttercups and clover, but grasses have flowered, near the chapel there is a fine display of other taller plants and a lushness I don’t recall before.

Small part of wildflower meadow north of the chapel 30.6.2013

The usual comfrey clump seems to have more insects around it too. 2 bee species Bombus hortorum and Bombus pascuorum, are busily going from flower to flower, speckled wood butterflies are sunning themselves and a ladybird resting on the leaves.
The insect life in the flowery areas is very much greater than usual, (in a few minutes this morning – 4 hoverfly species, 3 bee species, flies etc) which has had swifts swarming round the chapel collecting flying insects in the early morning. It must be good for bats too at the other end of the day. Hoverflies and bees are gathering nectar from the flowers. Spiders are sunbathing on the leaves, and then some spiders are getting eaten by the blackbirds.

Blackbird hunting for spiders. 30.6.2013

Bombus hortorum on red clover 30.6.2013

Cloud of swifts round the chapel 7.6.2013

Even the fence posts and the boarding are proving to be a great place for early sunbathing. Insects sit on the tops in the sun, getting up to temperature to be active. Wasps have been gathering wood from the rough fence. Small species of bees have been disappearing into holes in the wood.
Overall, it has greatly improved the area for the wildlife and probably increased the biodiversity by encouraging in new species.

Link to June photos of Abney Park Cemetery which includes bees and hoverflies found in this area.

Link to insect list for Abney Park Cemetery

Link to Butterflies in Abney Park Cemetery

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Platycheirus albimanus

It is not often that I share an intimate moment with an insect, but this was fascinating.  A Platycheirus albimanus, a little scrap of life, a small hoverfly, laid a series of single eggs on the underside of leaves on several plants. I was so taken by it that I forgot to look at which plant it was.

Link to insect photo collection

 

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..P.S.  the eggs were laid on Small-flowered Buttercup, Ranunculus parviflorus

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The bees this year are quiet. I don’t know if you have noticed. I have a garden dedicated to growing flowers suitable for bees, and they come in sometimes large numbers, it is just a stones’  throw from Abney Park, and it has got bees visiting the flowers very clearly and visibly. As I look along the line of the flower beds I can see them, but I can’t hear them. Usually there is a background hum to the garden, but not this year. It is the same in Abney. There are bees, the numbers may be down, but the hum of bees is just not there.

Maybe it is the reduction in numbers of honey bees. Local hives have been hit badly. I’m surprised by the people who have told me they keep hives and how badly they are doing, when I didn’t even know they were interested in bees. Do honey bees buzz more loudly than other types of bee? Other species look to be doing quite well, but they are only the more visible ones.

There are many bees in the UK, they include the big bumble bees but the range is wide. Identification online by comparing photos is possible through BWARS. I have spent a couple of days getting used to looking a them, but with a series of close photos it is possible in most cases that I have tried.

Link to all photos of insects.

Link to June photos with just recent insect photos.

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