Friday, 30 May 2014

Reading flower meadows in 2014

This is my last blog post about the flower meadows in Reading. The Urban Pollinators Project is in its last year now, with fieldwork completed and only data analysis and publication of results still to do. I myself (Reading team) will leave the project today but the Bristol and Leeds team will carry on to complete the final tasks.

Perennial meadows

The perennial meadows have been quite a success (look here for some pictures) and were alive with many different pollinators and other wildlife from May to August last year. The good news is that Reading Borough Council is keeping three of the five perennial meadows which are now starting to flower or, in the case of Portman Road, are already flowering. Best time to visit the perennial meadows is between June and August.

Perennial meadows which can be visited this year:

Meadway Recreation Ground, Tilehurst

Portman Road (opposite Ashmere Terrace)

Westfield Road Recreation Ground, Lower Caversham

If you like the perennial meadows and want to create your own little meadow in your garden have a look here.

The flower meadow along Portman Road looks stunning at the moment
Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
White campion (Silene latifolia)
Meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris) and Red campion
Red campion (Silene dioica)
Tree bumblebee sheltering in Black knapweed flower head
Red campion and Meadow buttercup
Wild marjoram (Origanum vulgare), soon flowering
Early bumblebee male (Bombus pratorum)
Birds-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Black knapweed and Ox-eye daisies in our meadow along Portman Road
Common carder bee drinking nectar from a Bird`s-foot trefoil flower
Wild mignonette (Reseda lutea)
Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
The perennial meadow in Westfield Road Recreation Ground
Black knapweed (Centaurea nigra) and Ox-eye daisies
Early bumblebee drinking nectar from Creeping buttercup

Annual meadows

Sadly the annual meadows have not been resown this year due to a tight council budget. Some annual flowers such as Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) and Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) have self-seeded from last years plants which looks quite pretty in the former annual meadow in Victoria Recreation Ground in Tilehurst but mostly there are just a few patches of colourful annual plants between more weedy plants.
If you liked last years annual meadows (here are some pictures from July last year) why not create your own little annual meadow next year (or even this year if you are quick) in pots or a spare bit of ground in a sunny corner of your garden. Here is how to do it: How to create an annual flower meadow.

A dung fly sitting on a Pot marigold flower head
A little fly
Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
The former annual meadow in Victoria Recreation Ground
Californian poppies in the rain
Corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas)
Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
Californian poppies and Pot Marigold
Bright red Papaver flowers are glowing even in bad weather
Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Poppies are often visited by bumblebees in sunny weather

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Buzzing in the rain

After all the warmth and sunshine we had in mid-May the weather has now taken a turn for the worse and rain seems to dominate, at least in the South-East. Not very good news for pollinators as many stop foraging when it rains and seek shelter under leaves, in their nests or inside or underneath flowers. But there are still some busy bumblebees to be seen, even in the rain, and flowers can look beautiful when covered in sparkling raindrops.
Next time it rains do not stay inside; waterproof yourself and discover the wet and wonderful world in front of your door.

Purple toadflax (Linaria purpurea)
Red-tailed cuckoo bumblebee (Bombus rupestris)
Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)
Red-tailed cuckoo bumblebee (Bombus rupestris)
Honeyberry (Lonicera caerulea)
Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) drinking nectar from a Phacelia flower
Bumblebees love Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)
This bumblebee is sheltering under Phacelia flowers
Field poppy (Papaver rhoeas)
Red-tailed bumblebee and moneyspider waiting for the sun to return
A borage flower (Borago officinalis)
This little Early bumblebee worker did not manage to return to the nest before the rain started
Rambler rose
Raindrops on Verbascum flower buds
Verbascum phoeniceum
Ragged robin (Silene flos-cuculi)
Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
Verbascum phoeniceum
Sheltering bumblebee
Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) seedhead
Common carder bumblebee worker (Bombus pascuorum) still active in the rain
Unopened flower of Field poppy (Papaver rhoeas)
Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale) flower
Field poppy flower stalk
Buff/white-tailed bumblebee worker visiting a Phacelia flower
Another hiding cuckoo bumblebee
Early bumblebee visiting a Comfrey flower (Symphytum sp.)
A wet Early bumblebee worker
Little fly in a Milk thistle flower (Galactitis tomentosa)