Day three of #30DaysWild found us in Leeds for a wedding. A change of location then but definitely no change in our attempt at doing something wild every single day in June. With time limited (something about needing to put on a suit and polish my shoes apparently) we decided to head to our host’s garden to see what we could see. Despite being in an urban area they have an enviable plot which backs on to mature woodland, partly given over to traditional planting and the rest a vegetable patch. Throw in a couple of ponds for good measure and we had plenty to look at and explore. Now, as I’ve already said, time was a bit tight so a full bioblitz was out of the question (something for a later date perhaps?) meaning that we needed to focus in on one particular area. Given that we’ve already been contributing to the Great British Bee Count our minds were pretty much made up for us and there were certainly no shortage of willing volunteers to make it into the app. Indeed, with most of the garden still in early morning shade several individuals were even docile enough to allow us to practice a little macro photography.

P1080233 - Early Bumblebee
Early Bumblebee
P1080238 - Tree Bumblebee
Tree Bumblebee
P1080200 - White-tailed Bumblebee
White-tailed Bumblebee
P1080197 - Red-tailed Bumblebee
Red-tailed Bumblebee

Not a bad selection at all and I have to say that until embarking on this journey I had no idea how common and widespread Tree Bumblebees were. In fact I can’t ever remember seeing one before but this week we recorded them in our Swansea garden, at work and now up here in Leeds. What’s even more remarkable is that this species is a relative newcomer to these shores, first spotted in 2001 and since then a rapid coloniser making it all the way to Scotland by 2013. As a generalist it feeds on a wide range of plants and flowers and seems to absolutely thrive in our climate, nesting in all manner of locations from empty bird boxes to garden lawns. Best of all they don’t seem to have had any negative effect on our native species which is brilliant as I like them a lot.

P1080262 - Tree Bumblebee

Of course it was hard not to ignore everything else that was going on around us from the harsh call of a Jay deep in the woodland to a friendly Robin no doubt wandering what these mad fools with their cameras were doing in the middle of the Raspberry patch. What I was drawn to though were the ponds as, unlike ours at home which has yet to attract much of note unfortunately, these were full of life. Snails abounded whilst pond skaters slid over the waters surface effortlessly and, after a couple of minutes searching, we caught sight of our first Frog of the day. This was followed up by a spot of pond dipping which revealed a Smooth Newt.

P1080265 - Frog
P1080220 - Smooth Newt

The newt looked about as uncomfortable as I’d soon be when faced with a dance floor and dodgy DJ so we popped it back pretty sharpish. It was time too for us to be off but what an excellent way to start the day. Perhaps a little time amongst nature each morning would set us all off in a better state of mind.


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