It is July and the blackcurrents and redcurrents we planted a few years ago (mainly for the birds) are abundant and ripening as are the hawthorn and rowan berries. This year there is a very good crop of red currants. This month we have been regularly hearing and seeing chiff chaffs, goldcrests, willow tits, blackbirds, great tits, blue tits and jays.
This delicate lacewing has lava that devours aphids and other pests such as mealybugs, thrips and juvenile whiteflies in massive numbers – so a very useful insect.
We have seen many ‘oak apples’ on the young oaks. Their purpose is to be a nursery for the gall wasp, Biorhiza pallida, that causes growths, or ‘galls’, on the oaks. Galls are formed when the female wasp lays her egg onto an oak leaf or into the bark of the tree. Inside the gall, there are a number of chambers, each housing a larva which eats its way out. Adults emerge in June and July
Meadow grasshopper are abundant now. They can be found in damp, unimproved pastures and meadows and are here throughout the summer. Males can often be seen rubbing their legs against their wings to create their distinct chirping, ‘rrrrr’ song for the females. Grasshoppers go through a series of moults and each time shed their exoskeletons as they grow. Adults start appearing in June and they feed on the plants and grass. After pairs mate the female lays her eggs in the soil in a pod, ready to hatch the following spring.
As summer progresses we are now seeing more butterflies and moths, especially the large skipper (shown here in flight) and meadow browns. Other species seen so far this month include ringlet, cabbage white, speckled wood, red admiral, and peacock. Day flying moths regularly seen include yellow shell and various species of grass veneer.
This month we have seen common blue damselfly, blue-tailed damselflies, emperor dragonfly and, on several occasions, the large, and very distinct, golden-ringed dragonfly.
Alt-y-garreg is a 20-acre nature reserve created in 2010 from four fields that had been improved pasture. There are areas of new woodland (over eighteen thousand trees of eighteen native species), wildflower meadows, scrub and ancient hedgerows. Two of the fields are now a natural burial site. The area is teeming with wildlife.