Tuesday 23 June 2009

Bee Orchids at Butterfly Park

News from Paul Loughnane...

New Ferry Butterfly Park has had record numbers of visitors this year. Through the seasons the grassland species change. Initially on the lime grassland there was a host of golden cowslips heralding spring. These have now given way to some more unusual plants.

These are bee orchids, rather strange plants that give the striking illusion of a bumble bee nectaring on a pink flower. These plants are essentially a Mediterranean type plant, however they are expanding northwards.

Charles Darwin noticed that insects rarely visited bee orchids. Who would want to muscle in on a bumble bee? So why did they evolve into these bee shape flowers? These plants use bee-like scents instead of nectar to attract a pollinating bee to visit the flowers. Unfortunately for the bee orchid this species of solitary bee does not exist in Britain. So after all this show of flower and frustratingly no visitation from a pollinator, they go for the self pollinating approach. These bee mimics flower for a short time and disappear by the end of June.

More information about the Butterfly Park and its opening times can be found on our website.

Monday 22 June 2009

Sue's seagulls

Here are some photos from Sue, one of our Watch helpers...

This year there are 2 herring gull families on the top of Mount Pleasant car park (near the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool). Not sure if they are the same parents as last year but there are 3 chicks in the same lamp as last year.

Another pair also chose the car park roof as home to bring up their family of 3 chicks. The nest is situated behind 2 large bales of cable and the parents make sure the chicks are behind these when anyone comes close. Therefore, it's not easy to catch them all on camera but I thought you might be interested to see the photos.

Watch group - Pond Dipping

We had a very wet, but still enjoyable, pond dipping experience for the June WATCH meeting.

Thanks to Sue and Margaret for the photos.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Visit to Raby House Farm, Willaston

On Friday evening we enjoyed a guided tour of Raby House Farm in Willaston, farmed organically by David Tedstone.

David is applying for Higher Level Stewardship, a Natural England scheme to provide funding for farmers who manage their land to deliver environmental benefits.

This is one of two barn owl boxes installed by Wirral Barn Owl Trust.

One of the ponds had two families of Canada geese, seen here guarding their chicks from us.

This is one of several wild flower meadows that impressed us. They provide a fine hunting ground for the barn owls.