26 Jun A walk on the wild side
A nature walk around the Jerbourg cliffs led by Nature Guernsey, the Pollinators Project and part of Les Bourgs 30 Ways to Help Gsy Wildlife. On an overcast but warm June morning, a group of keen nature lovers met in Jerbourg carpark. Armed with sweep nets, binoculars and cameras, the intrepid bunch set off to see what was out and about on this fine summer’s day. As this peninsula is one of the first landfalls on the island for passing migrants, we may spot a few interesting creatures either here for the summer season or just using us as a waypoint for a journey further north. Guernsey is on a main migrator highway for birds, butterflies, and we may even see the emperor dragonfly which has been recently spotted.
Bumbles bees can be identified according to the colour of their bum!
Buff Tailed bumble bee
Red tailed bumble bee
This giant bumble bee was covered in pollen-(the little white spots)
This Guernsey fuchsia is not native to the island. Notice how the buff tailed bumble bee is going straight through the top of the flower to get the nectar because it can’t fit into the flower. This bee is not pollinating this flower.
Insects are also pollinators. There were a variety of moths, caterpillars and beetles. It wasn’t sunny, so we did not see any butterflies.
Swollen thigh beetle feeding on a dandelion
Even the common fly deserves a mention as it will also pollinate plants. Here it is on yarrow.
The speckled bush cricket was caught in one of the sweep nets
I can see how this fire bug got its name
This is the yellow shell moth. You can tell that it is a moth and not a butterfly because the wings are flat and spread out. A butterfly will fold its wings.yellow shell
This is a Harlequinn ladybird lava. The ladybirds will appear in August and September.
The oak eggar caterpillar likes the warm tarmac so look down as well as up. This will become the oak eggar moth.
Plants – June, July and August are the most colourful months.
Broomrape. This is a parasite, in this case living off ivy. It does not therefore need to make its own food. It is not green because it does not photosynthesise.
Common mallow. There is a large version of this on the west coast with a big soft leaf. Planted in medieval times next to the toilet- guess what is was used for!
A planted, colourful osteospermum and carnation border. As it was overcast most of the flowers were closed up.
This is a succulent called an English Stone crop. It shows all stages- green when it first grows, soon turns red, a white flower, then a dried bud. There is also mossy and biting stone crop in the island.
Stinking Iris. Flower doesn’t have much smell but try crushing the leaf and smell it – you will soon realise how it got its name. You will see cultivated versions in gardens.
This yellow flower is sea radish. Pick a flower and eat it. You will get a peppery taste. It can be sprinkled on your salad.
This is sheep’s bit flower. You can see a buff bum on the bumble bee.
There were a lots of buff bums everywhere today. This is an oxeye daisy
This is a Venus Pennywort. The name wort has medicinal origins. This edible plant has been used for various skin conditions.
This is a sea campion. Seems popular today with our mini beast friends.
This is the red campion. These were all male flowers. Press the bulge just under the flower – if it is empty it is a male flower, if full it is female.
Why don’t you go for a slow cliff walk with (or without… it is not compulsory!) children. Look up, look down, look around and listen. The photos were taken using an iPhone. Take more than one because sometimes the phone focuses on the background and not the bug. Younger children could make a nature scrap book about what they find. You do have to be patient as the mini-beasts move a lot.
Bug man Andy Marquis was very knowledgable about mini beasts and even wore an identification chart……
How to make your own sweep net.