Green Fingers I Wish

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Bird decline blamed on lost lawns

Bird decline blamed on lost lawns

Leaving scraps out on a bird table could help save house sparrows
Decking, patios and gravel gardens may be contributing to a decline in song thrushes, house sparrows and starlings, the RSPB has warned.

Conservationists said their numbers have plummeted over the last 30 years as a trend to replace lawns with a low maintenance alternative has taken off.

Without a habitat for insects, there is less for nestlings to feed on.

The RSPB said studies suggested this was threatening some species' survival rate and urged people to leave lawns.

It said that gardening makeover shows and a lack of time to spend tending a garden had led people to pave over their gardens or lay decking.

Front gardens covering an area roughly 22 times the size of Hyde Park have been paved over in London, while in the North East, nearly half of front gardens are covered, the RSPB said.

Plant a native shrub or climber
Leave patches of long grass
Do not cut back old stems of herbaceous plants and annuals until Spring
Fill a shallow dish with fresh water every day
Put nuts, seeds and household scraps in feeders or on bird tables

Richard Bashford, of the RSPB, said: "We are losing more and more of the natural environment around our homes, particularly our front gardens."

He said research had shown that even tiny front gardens or green verges are vital for urban wildlife and can house more than 700 different species of insect.

"The RSPB is still investigating the causes of declines and why bird populations aren't recovering. Currently there is no one factor this can be attributed to.

"However supplementing natural food with seeds and nuts and planting natural food sources for next spring can only help."

The RSPB is also urging gardeners to plant native shrubs, leave patches of long grass and introduce bird feeders and tables.

Source:- BBC News

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Feed The Birds Day 28th October

About Feed The Birds Day

RSPB Feed The Birds Day is a great opportunity to step up your feeding to help garden birds through the cold months ahead. This year's event is on Saturday 28 October.

Why feed?

It's good to feed birds all year round - for warmth in the cold weather and energy during the breeding season.

Providing a little food, water and shelter can really help birds through the winter - and turn your garden into a wildlife haven for you to enjoy.

Why have Feed The Birds Day in October?

Feed The Birds Day marks the clocks going back and the winter nights drawing in - it's the time when birds and other wildlife need a little extra help as the first frost looms.
'It's good to feed birds all year round - for warmth in the cold weather and energy during the breeding season'

So please fill your feeders, clean your bird tables, put out some water and give a helping hand to the wild birds around you.

And the sooner you start feeding them, the more birds you'll see when you sit down to enjoy the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch in January! You may be surprised how the number changes according to the food you put out.
Get involved

Special events will be taking place across the UK to celebrate Feed The Birds Day on Saturday 28 October. Details will be posted on The Feed The Birds Day pages soon!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Moths and Pupa

There are hundreds of moths in the British Isles, most go unseen as they are nocturnal, only coming into view at lighted windows and around outside lamps. Some of the prettiest are mistaken for butterflies. One of the most spectacular is the Hummingbird Hawk-moth or Clearwing, which is quite large and resembles a humming bird as it hovers while inserting it's long probosis into flowers to reach the nactar.

picture of moth caterpillar picture of moth pupa
The right-hand picture shows the transition stage to a pupa

That's the charming side of these creatures, but as for their cousins, the butterflies, it is the earlier forms in their life cycle which do not endear them to gardeners since they feed on plant material. Most of the caterpillars which attack garden plants belong to moths, either eating leaves, friut or roots; eg. Codling Moths, lay their eggs in apples and the grubs which hatch ruin the fruit.

They start as eggs laid on the underside of leaves, inserted into plant tissue or on the ground. These hatch into larvae (caterpillars) which go through several instars before pupating then finally emerging as adult moths.

Monday, October 09, 2006


There are over 30,000 different species of wasps, some are used in horticulture as biological controls. The best known is the Paravespula vulgaris which is yellow and black, which although feared by many, is also useful to the gardener, eating harmful flies, aphids, as well as caterpillars, nectar, refuse and fruit. They have strong jaws, two pairs of transparent wings, and three distinct body parts; the head, the thorax, and the abdomen.

Picture of wasp eating a caterpillar

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Earwigs can be good - and bad

Small creatures called Earwigs are omnivorous and feed on live or dead aphids, other small insects and some plant material. They tend to attack the petals, buds and flowers of ornamental plants, particularly clematis, chrysanthemums and dahlias; sometimes the soft tissue between leaf veins. They hide inside flowers and debris during the day, and feed at night. Earwigs like a narrow crevice to hide in during the day, preferring to have contact with the upper and lower surfaces of their body. This is probably how they got their name, when they crawled into the ears of people sleeping on straw beds (they do not attack eardrums). They also possess fan-like wings which are greatly folded under what looks like a golden waistcoat, but are rarely seen in flight. The male has curved pincers at the rear and females have straighter ones.

The female lays about 80 eggs in a nest underground or in rotting wood, between November and February. These take about 10 days to 3 months to develop depending on the temperature. The nymph goes through 4 changes over a 40 to 50 day period. The mother guards the eggs and the first stage of the nymph. After this the nymphs leave the nest and fend for themselves feeding on small invertabrates like aphids. They resemble the adult but are paler and lack wings.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

1001 Ingenious Gardening Ideas

This gardening book is on offer at Amazon for just $18.45. Normal price $27.95.

1001 Ingenious Gardening Ideas

1001 Ingenious Gardening Ideas: New, Fun, and Fabulous Tips That Will Change the Way You Garden-Forever! (Rodale Garden Book)