Annual Photographic Competition

Wednesday 18th November 2015

Winning photos can be found here

 

 

Richard’s NATURE NOTES: May 2016

  I am particularly pleased to report that there have been frequent sightings of water voles this year in Brantingham Beck.  It would appear that there could be four separate water vole territories between the far end of Burrill Lane and the Church.  A water vole is reported to eat about 80% of its own body weight each day; this is the reason it is so often to be seen sitting in the stream eating leaves of the abundant false watercress.  I have also watched a water vole climb the steep bank of the beck to feed on plants out of the water.  Their fur can sometimes seem quite wet when sitting in the stream indicating that they are not fully adapted for life in water.

 The best place to see a water vole in Brantingham is in the beck near the litter bin just before the church.  On one occasion recently I watched a vole repeatedly swim with plant material to a gap under a large pipe.  I had thought – incorrectly - that this might indicate that there was a nest under the pipe and that the vole was bringing food to its mate or young.  Jon Traill who has studied water voles in East Yorkshire told me that this is classic water vole behaviour and provided the following additional information.  Water voles do have food stores which they top up (more often done in the autumn months to see them through the winter), but they don’t take food back to the nest for young, and ‘mates’ are not allowed to share a nest.  Young voles are weaned very quickly (around two weeks) and then venture out to find vegetation close to the nest burrow.  After a few further days they are pushed out by the mother.  She will tolerate them in her territory for a little while whilst they get their bearings, but by three months old they will need to find their own patch/territory.

 Interesting natural history observations can be made anywhere.  At this time of year a few tiny volcano-shaped mounds of excavated earth can be found on my lawn, which is evidence that female tawny mining bees have been digging nests.  So far this year I have found six such mounds, each mound representing the entrance to an underground nest built by one female bee.  My finding one morning of two dead adult tawny mining bees at the entrance to one mound is difficult to explain, especially as one bee showed evidence of having been pecked by a bird.  I have frequently noted that a new mound when found early in the morning is just a pile of earth, but by mid-morning it has a round hole in the top of the mound.  The adult bees are quite distinctive, with dense ginger hairs on the top of the thorax and abdomen.  They can often be seen flying over the lawn just above the top of the grass.

 The tawny mining bee is subject to parasitic attack by a fly called a bee-fly.  There are several species of bee-fly in Britain, with the dark-edged bee-fly being the most widespread; this species occurs in East Yorkshire although I have still to identify one with certainty.  The adult dark-edged bee-fly looks like a tawny-brown hairy bee, but has a prominent needle like proboscis protruding from the front of its head.  This species hovers in front of spring flowers and sucks up nectar using its long proboscis.  The breeding habits of bee-flies are unusual.  The female fly hovers over the entrance to a mining bee nest and then flicks eggs into the entrance; some species coat their eggs with sand which makes them easier to propel.  When the bee-fly larvae hatch they feed on the mining bee larvae.

 Getting to grips with insect identification can be a daunting task.  For instance, 275 species of bees are described in a recently published field guide to the bees of Great Britain and Ireland.  However, if you want to make a start identifying bumblebees, I recommend the identification chart produced by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust which describes eight of the most common species:  (http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/identification/common-bumblebees).

 For tips on identifying common white butterflies, see

http://butterfly-conservation.org/3114-4135/how-to-identify-white-butterflies.html

 

Wildflower Meadow Opening

Sunday 11th May 2014

A large following of members of the 'Wolds & Riverbank Countryside Society' turned out to witness the official opening of the society's new wildflower meadow adjacent to their wood on Brantingham Road. Following the cutting of the ribbon to open the meadow, members had brought along a selection of food and drinks for an afternoon picnic. Though the weather threatened heavy rain showers for the day none were forthcoming and all were able to enjoy a dry afternoon though a little on the cold and windy side.

Tree Planting Project  Link to photographs

 

 

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