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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.


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Richard’s nature notes: April 2014 

It is the first week of April and I have not yet seen any tiny volcano-shaped mounds of excavated earth on my lawn, ie evidence that female Tawny Mining Bees have been digging nests.  I know these bees are about because I have seen one female visiting catkins on a weeping willow tree.  The female is quite distinctive with a dense covering of gingery hairs on its back.  Each female builds its own nest, ie they do not build colonial nests like the honey bee and many bumble bees.  However, a number of females can build nests in the same small area, as was evident from the numerous tiny mounds of earth on my lawn in previous years.  Young bees emerge from the nest the year after the eggs are laid.

Much larger mounds of earth, mole hills, are to be seen in a neighbouring field; thankfully at quite some distance from my fence.  There has not been much evidence of new mole hills recently, but there was about a month ago.  I wondered if this might have been related to the start of the breeding season because this is when males enlarge their territories, tunnelling over large areas in search of females.  For most of the year males and females are solitary, occupying separate territories.  You sometimes can see moles on the surface, especially when youngsters disperse away from the parental tunnels to establish territories of their own.  Moles typically have black fur, but there are reports of ‘white’ moles near Skipton (apparently more grey than white, and not albino) and ginger moles in Upper Eskdale.

On the subject of colour variation in mammals, there was a black rabbit in a local field recently.  I have a book that says black rabbits occur throughout Yorkshire but particularly near Sheffield and at Malham.  Seasonal colour variation is well known in stoats, although I have never seen one with a white winter (ermine) coat.  It is reported that in Yorkshire the change to ermine is very variable with white, intermediate (pied) and brown stoats being seen in the same winter.  A stoat in ermine still retains a black tip to its tail. (Weasels lack a black tip to the tail).

Bluebells will soon be appearing.  The British bluebell can be distinguished from other species, eg the Spanish Bluebell, by the colour of the pollen: the British bluebell has creamy white pollen.  This is best checked in a recently opened flower because after the pollen is shed the anther can appear creamy white.  The British Bluebell is not limited in its distribution to the British Isles but it is said to be home to the majority of the world’s population.  This primarily European species was introduced into North America by European settlers.  Another plant introduced there by European settlers, the Greater Plantain, is associated with disturbed ground and was so consistently a feature of European settlements that native Americans called it ‘White Man’s Foot’.

There are very few species of plants or animals that are limited in their distribution to the British Isles, ie are endemic to Britain.  Scientists from Hull have recently proposed that the oldest known endemic animal species in Britain and Ireland are two species of tiny amphipod crustaceans that live in subterranean groundwater, and thereby survived the Pleistocene glaciations. It is believed that both species are at least 19.5 million years old.


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 Last updated: June 2014














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