Fly eating competition

The male flycatcher

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has installed (one of?) his mate(s) in a nestbox outside the polytunnel

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which provides him with a handy all-weather fly catching zone

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Plenty of insects here

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but he may not know he is competing against some fly-hungry plants

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Sunbathing time

Today was the first hot sunny day in the life of this juvenile Robin and he took full advantage of it

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Meadow Browns arrived in the Meadow for the first time this year

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And while the damsel flies have been around for some time

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the Broad-bodied Chaser also made its first appearance of the year

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as for us and the bees

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no time for basking.

Insects and other small treasures

We only need the windscreen test to know what is happening to insect life.

A recent analysis published in Biological Conservation reported “The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”. More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.”

So we don’t take for granted the smaller occupants of our plot

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Who knows what lives in the depths of the ponds, from where bubbles mysteriously rise

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On the surface, where waterboatmen row by

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there is evidence of metamorphosis

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Above fly a variety of damselflies

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One we have not seen before:

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The spider that chooses this spot

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can ensnare a colourful meal

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In praise of Rhinanthus minor

The fields around us look like this

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a grass mono-culture.

Ours looks like this

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an ever changing mix of species with new ones arriving all the time

(There is a rather out of date list of species here)

We scythe off the vetetation after each flowering season to reduce the soil fertility.

Another major agent is this

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Yellow Rattle – Rhinanthus minor

Because it gains some of its nutrients from the roots of neighbouring plants it helps to weaken the grass to allow space for a greater diversity of plants.

Our Rattle has been spreading well over the last couple of years, partly by its own efforts and also due to us collecting seed and spreading it further.

Here is a patch with a low density of Rattle

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and here is one where it is more dominant

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Long Live the Rattle