A strawbale building is under construction on the St.Ann’s Community Orchard, and it already has an occupant. A Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) has built a nest amongst the insulation at the top of the building’s timber frame, and accessing the nest via a hole in the soffits which is yet to be closed up. I was able to take a couple of photos; they’re not great quality, as I didn’t want to get too close, nor to use the flash, for fear of alarming the birds.
The nest is a well-constructed ball of vegetation, with just a narrow opening near the top; this is probably the origin of the bird’s latin name, which means “cave dweller”. In this photo, an adult bird can be seen at the nest’s entrance, regarding me warily, whilst the yellow gaping mouth of one of the hungry chicks is also visible….
In the second photo, the adult bird can be seen out of the nest, about to go foraging for caterpillars to feed the chicks with….
The birds seems fairly used to people, and untroubled by the ongoing building work! Hopefully the building’s first occupants will successfully fly the nest in due course…
Thanks to Vivien Crump for this photo of a classic May woodland sight…..
Vivien took the photo in Bunny Wood – a Wildlife Trust reserve about 7 miles south of Nottingham. The reserve is one of the closest remnants of ancient woodland to the city, and is reknowned for its bluebells at this time of year. It’s a bit further out than most of the places I feature, but well worth a visit if you can get out there.
I recently noticed an interesting plant growing right by the side of the Western Boulevard ring-road…..
There is a distinctive line of white low-growing flowers alongside the road edge – this is Danish scurvy-grass (Cochlearia danica), a member of the cabbage family. Here’s a closer look, unfortunately not of the best quality….
Danish scurvy-grass is a coastal plant, whose common name derives from the fact that sailors used to chew its vitamin-C rich leaves to ward off scurvy. Its usual habitat is coastal sand, shingle and salt-marsh, but it is no surprise to find it so far inland. It is adapted to grow in places with high salt levels which would be intolerable to most species, and the application of salt to main roads in winter has made the very edge of such roads an ideal habitat for it (and not very good for much else).
The plant has therefore spread inland from the coast along roads and motorways, aided by the turbulence from passing high-speed traffic, which rapidly distributes its tiny seeds. As a result, it is now one of the most widely-expanding native plants in Britain.
Look out for it next time you’re on or near a major road – it’s flowering now and at it’s most conspicuous.
Nic Cairns sent in some fine photos of trees in blossom, taken at Ecoworks Community Garden…..
The blossom shown is all on cultivated trees (Cherry, Apple and Plum) rather than natives – but such flowers are still of great value for pollinating insects such as bees and hoverflies, and a flowering fruit tree can be a worthwhile contribution to any wildlife garden. Thanks to Nic for the photos.