The Garden Bioblitz is a great way of discovering your garden from a new angle. It’s a lovely way to get up close and personal and see how many creatures we unknowingly share the garden with.
I’ve tried to create a wildlife friendly garden, packed full of nectar rich perennials with an emphasis of increasing the plant variety year after year. I have a mosaic of free draining surfaces including gravel attracting a host of spiders and small invertebrates, and I’ve added a small pond with shallow edges and aquatic plants.
My log pile is now so huge it is officially a log metropolis and each year I struggle to find another corner for the leaf litter that invertebrates love to overwinter in. The thick flowering hedgerows, which are cut annually in September, regularly reach 12ft tall by the end of summer but provide fantastic nest sites for the garden birds. Luckily I have understanding neighbours who appreciate how vital it is to do what we can for our local wildlife.
It goes without saying that I don’t use chemicals and I hope that all these factors combined has resulted in a fairly varied habitat attracting a variety of creatures great and small.
Although I’ve spent many hours enjoying the busy hum of the garden residents I’ve never taken the time to actually photograph or identify them in a structured way.
So on the Garden Bioblitz weekend at the beginning of June, armed with camera, I ventured out to document anything I found. Unfortunately after a truly dismal cold Spring the day was sunny yet laced with a chilly breeze and very little was around. There was the odd bee, butterfly and cranefly, a few flies, midges, aphids and beetles, I startled a frog by the pond as I tried to photograph a hoverfly but other than the usual birds it was unusually quiet.
This hasn’t been the norm. As my garden has evolved over the last few years it has blossomed with life. I’ve regularly seen a hedge vole visiting the greenhouse which sits alongside a dense hedge and being in a rural location, whether I like it or not the garden is host to mice and rats which live in the compost bins and hedges. We currently have an unwanted rabbit happily munching it’s way through new shoots, I suspect it’s unlikely that it will remain solitary for much longer. Our bird feeders are visited by house sparrows, finches, blackbirds, robins, goldfinch, magpies and wood pigeons. For the first time a visiting pair of song thrush set up a nest last month in the hedge which was immensely exciting as it was in direct view of the kitchen window, and promised to be our very own Springwatch. Unfortunately they were discovered by a Magpie and soon left, no doubt, for a more secure site.
Red Kite and hawks regularly circle above the garden and the hawk has been known to snatch a bird from our neighbours feeders which are a little more exposed than ours. On a warm sunny day the garden is a buzz with bees, wasps, hoverflies, midges, mosquitoes and the pond is frequented by some very pretty damselflies. So although Garden Bioblitz 2013 wasn’t exactly a success for documenting a diverse range of creatures on the day it’s certainly inspired me to get out and try again on a warmer day.
There’s never been a better time to reconnect with nature if you’re not sure what to do then visit BBC Springwatch Summer of Nature, Garden Bioblitz, The Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Buglife, Pond Conservation, Sea Trust and Woodland Trust for projects, great ideas, information, ID charts and places to visit.
Whatever you do get outside, enjoy yourself and help protect this amazing nature filled world that we are so lucky to live in. And don’t forget look around it’s everywhere in the smallest of gardens, our parks, roadside verges and woodlands. It’s in our ponds, streams, rivers and seas and it’s extraordinary!