26th April 2020

We are now into the last week of one of the warmest Aprils on record. Sadly, we are not able to get out as much as we would like but the sunshine does make things feel slightly better.

Despite these difficult times there is much to celebrate in our greenspaces. My first generation of solitary bees have hatched and the adults are flying in and out on a regular basis, hopefully with more young on the way.

When we first moved into our house the garden had one huge shed and a very large, wooded sided fish pond which had clearly not be used for years. So our garden has evolved pretty much from scratch. The meadow alone has 14 species in it and so far I have avoided the urge to sprinkle wild flower seed everywhere as I am trying to see what comes in naturally. All very common so far, including docks, creeping buttercup and of course dandelion, plus four different grasses. These plants attract lots of invertebrates and as the meadow grows over the next few weeks I will start to see various butterflies and moths, using the different plant species for feeding and laying eggs. Later in the summer I even get grasshoppers and crickets.

We are often distracted by the more showy species, the Six-spot Burnet Moth with its black wings and bright red dots or the Comma butterfly with its distinctive orange and brown, wavy edged wing. If you look more closely, however, there is a wealth of small things to see.

Cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata)
Cocksfoot (from Woodland Trust: Nature’s Calendar)

One of my favourite grasses is the Cocksfoot. It gets the name from the three headed spike of flowers and seeds that resembles a bird’s foot. Not surprisingly there is a small Cocksfoot moth that lays its eggs on the seeds. The caterpillars are tiny and often go unnoticed and the adults are small and a bit dull, but also fascinating and feed on buttercups and daisies, also common in our gardens.

Now is the time of year to really start observing your garden and your greenspaces and record everything you see. One thing we lack in Medway is proper information about our biodiversity and each of us can contribute to the store of knowledge. The more we know about the species we have the better we can care for them.

There is plenty of help on how to identify species and if you are unsure about anything just email us your questions and we will find the answers for you. Please send us any information you have and we will keep the records safe.

It would be lovely to announce in a couple of years’ time, that as a result of what we are doing now, the biodiversity of Medway is increasing! But we can only do this if we have the information.

Tale care
Simon

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