The wildlife plot April 2023
April is a time of showers and sunshine, sometimes quite windy and sometimes warmer, others colder. I think we had it all this April and the wildlife responded to it by being visible sometimes and not others. Probably as it should be at this time of year. We did have some sightings of insects I have not really been aware of before and some old friends back again such as this buff tailed bumble bee on the grape hyacinth. I love how furry they look.
This month they have also been on the Skimmia, Lithodora and the early geraniums when it has been sunny. They are always the first bumble bees that I see and the most prolific on the plot.
The newcomer, to me, was the Hawthorn fly. There were swarms of them on the plot and down the path between the wildlife plot and my plot and are quite distinctive. They are all black and hover, settling occasionally on flowers and then darting away (very difficult to photograph) and have long legs that drag behind them as they fly and hover. These give them quite a distinctive shape in the air.
The first photo is a little bit blurry but I have included it so that you can see the long back legs. Here they are settled on one of Dave’s brassicas that he has left to flower. Leaving your veg to flower is a really easy way to invite wildlife onto your plot. Hawthorn flies are particularly keen on hawthorn (!) which is in the hedge at the back of the allotment plot, but are also very good pollinators of fruit trees, apples, cherries and some pears which are in full blossom now. With the planting of the native hedging around the plots a couple of years ago, we should be seeing more of these over the next few years if it is allowed to flower.
I think the one in the photo must be a male because it has a large head and large eyes. Apparently the female has a small head and tiny eyes.
All the blogs that I have read about these flies suggests that they are normally seen around the 25th of April – I think we started to see them about the 20th – and they live for about a week. They are certainly not around as I write this. Strong winds can blow them over rivers and streams and this causes fish that feed on floating insects to rise and this is why fish hooks are made to look like them. No trout or grayling in the pond though.
The next thing I found on the plot was a moth sheltering in a patch where I had left weeds to grow – a good enough reason to leave small patches of weeds in out of the way places on our plots. I have no idea what it is and I can’t identify it online so will ask in the moth facebook group. (Update: Someone on the allotment Facebook group identified the moth as a Silver Y – yes it has little white Ys on its wings.) I do, however, know ladybirds and the sunshine brings them out from the cracks and crevices of the manure spread on my veg plot.
And finally, the holly blue which do not just like holly but also like dogwoods, Spindle and Bramble all of which we have on the plot.
What have you seen lately?