Nature and Wild Life on the allotments
Like many allotment sites they can be a haven for wildlife, a small pond can attract frogs and newts, a small area not worked with a log pile can provide shelter for many insects, sometimes a wood mouse will build a nest in a compost heap, which when empty in the Spring will be colonized by bumble bees, these are harmless and should be left alone, the colony will die in late Autumn and the compost can then be used. Look out for green woodpeckers which frequent both sites.
Slow worms are burrowing lizards, spending much of the time hiding underneath objects. The skin of the varieties of slow worms is smooth with scales that do not overlap one another. Like many other lizards, slow worms autotomize, meaning they have the ability to shed their tails to escape predators. The tail regrows, but remains smaller. They are common in gardens and can be encouraged to enter and help remove pest insects by placing black plastic or a piece of tin on the ground. On warm days, one or more slow worms will often be found underneath these heat collectors. They may fancy your compost bin as a home. (photo Carl Greenaway)
Convovulus Hawk Moth Caterpillar
This is quite a rare find on the Walton Road site, and unusual to find in this Country A convovulus hawk moth caterpillar. A large species, with a wingspan of over 10cm, this is a migrant in Britain, appearing sometimes in fairly good numbers. Although larvae are sometimes found in Britain, usually on bindweed (Convolvulus), it does not regularly breed.
A home made solitary bee box
A home made solitary bee box, use seasoned timber and drill holes from 8mm to 4mm as deep as possible, many bees will use this, including carder an leaf cutter bees. This box was built by Mick Walters on his Walton Road Plot.
Speckled Wood Butterfly
Speckled Wood. This butterfly once rare in this area but now its numbers would appear to be on the increase. It is a widespread butterfly of woodland edges and rides, where it flies in the dappled sunlight, and can also be seen in hedgerows and gardens. Adults feed on honeydew while the caterpillars feed on a variety of grasses (photo Carl Greenaway)
Phacelia Tanacetifolia with Bee
Planting a small patch of Phacelia Tanacetifolia will attract lots of bees to your garden, as they forage for nectar. The plant is widely grown as a green manure, and is available from Kings Seeds. English Nature have asked all gardeners to help the Bumble, and a small patch of flowers on your allotment is a big help to these delightful insects. (photo Carl Greenaway)
A leaf-cutter at work
A busy leaf-cutter at work. It looks like one of Mick's boxes are paying dividends. Leaf-cutter Bees nest in holes in plant stems, dead wood, cliffs or old walls, and can be seen in gardens. They famously cut discs out of leaves (they particularly like roses), gluing them together with saliva in order to build the 'cells' in which their larvae live. The larvae hatch and develop, pupating in autumn and hibernating over winter.(photo Carl Greenaway)
The Wool Carding Bee or Carpenter Bee
The Wool Carding Bee or Carpenter Bee is attracted to the Starchy Plant and flowers. The male is very territorial and will guard the Starchy against all other bees, however the female carder is welcome. The female will collect the soft down from the leaves to line her nest in a hole drilled in the nesting box, or other cavity. (photo Carl Greenaway)
The Painted Lady Butterfly
Painted Lady, a continental migrant. In general, the Painted Lady is a large butterfly (wing span 5–9 cm ) identified by the black and white corners of its mainly deep orange, black-spotted wings. It has five white spots in the black fore-wing tips and while the orange areas may be pale here and there, there are no clean white dots in them. The hind-wings carry four small submarginal eyes-pots.
A young newt
A young newt from a allotment pond. Common newts are olive green or pale brown with a bright orange, black spotted underside. In the breeding season males develop a wavy crest from their heads to their tails. They are widespread throughout mainland Britain. They are nocturnal and spend the day hiding under large stones or compost heaps. From mid-October they hibernate, emerging again in February or March.
Large Hawker Dragonfly
Large Hawker Dragonfly (common aeshna) a takes a rest whilst inspecting our plots. This is a large, brightly coloured Dragonfly. The males are often seen patrolling by a ponds edge or river, where they fight away intruders, crashing into rival males and spiralling through the air. The females are quite inconspicuous when they lay their eggs, but they sometimes give away their spot by clattering up from the reeds. The males are sometimes very curious and come flying up to you, allowing a close view. (photo John Rayner)
5 Spot Lady Birds
5 Spot Lady Birds (coccinella) looking for aphids their princible food. Rarely found more than a few metres from its preferred river shingle habitat in Britain, yet common in many habitats in Europe. An endangered species in Britain. (photo John Rayner)
Humming bird Hawk Moth
Humming-bird Hawk-moths are amazing animals, which hover like tiny hummingbirds to drink nectar from flowers. They migrate to Britain from North Africa and southern Europe in May and June. They are able to breed here during the summer months but traditionally have not been able to survive our winters. ( photo Carl Greenaway)