Richard Jones

Latest posts by Richard Jones

1 to 10 of 22

Talkback: Big Garden Birdwatch 2014

Posted: 28/03/2014 at 09:38
So those sparrows I was going on about on Wednesday, they're do well then? I look forward to more squawking in the undergrowth.

Talkback: Old lady moths

Posted: 18/03/2014 at 21:21
Hummingbird hawks are regular migrants, so their appearance has more to do with weather, climate and temperature in Europe and North Africa, as well as here. Received wisdom has it that they do not survive British winters, but...who knows these days. The likelihood is that the very mild winter we've had in the south of England probably means that some could quite easily have overwintered successfully here.

Talkback: Brimstone butterflies

Posted: 08/01/2014 at 20:53

Great to come late into this conversation. I was really pleased that various people were reporting brimstones from 2 January. And I subsequently discover that my sister regularly gets small tortoiseshells hibernating in her wardrobe. This needs further research. 


Talkback: Old books and migrant birds

Posted: 06/12/2013 at 21:45
The trouble is that no matter what anyone else might think, if it reaches pest proportions, then it becomes a pest. It's all very subjective. We have swifts in East Dulwich; I've no idea where they nest. No swallows or house martins hereabouts though.

Talkback: Wasps

Posted: 25/10/2013 at 17:15

I must admit I'm very sceptical about those hanging-bag wasp nest deterents. Most wasp nests are subterannean, and only a few species (subgenus Dolichovespula) make a paper carton attached to a branch. More sales pitch than animal behaviour, I think.

I took a live male wasp (and several females) along to the natural history club I run at Ivydale School in Nunead. They all peered suspiciously as I clasped it between finger and thumb. There too many children, and they get a bit excited, so I decided to forego the hands-on (or fingers-on) activity. If only for the sake of the poor wasp.

I've yet to hear from the parents, but I think I'm safe in betting that not one of them will have a go at picking up boy wasps off the ivy on their own, and that not one of them will get stung because of my lesson.

But I can be sure that they went away from school less scared, less muddled, more informed and more enthusiastic about wasps than when they came into the classroom that day.

Talkback: Horse chestnut miner and blue tits

Posted: 22/10/2013 at 09:13
Just from personal observation, South London horse chestnuts seem to be less affected by the leaf-miners this year than previously. I wonder whether the cool weather in spring delayed them, or leaf-growth, and that by the time everything had caught up leaves were browning and falling anyway.

Talkback: Ivy bees

Posted: 21/10/2013 at 12:43

Just after posting this blog a new map of spread was put up on the BWARS website:

It's continuing to spread. And now Penny Frith has found it in Peckham:

Still none in East Dulwich though. Double harrumph.

Talkback: Caterpillar in the honeysuckle

Posted: 29/06/2013 at 21:44
Nondescript! Pah! This is one of the prettiest little moths in the garden. It also holds the record for having the greatest number of wings of any insect — 24 of them. Despite its 'common' name, it actually has 24 plumes, each based around one of the usual 6 reinforcing veins in its four wings. At rest it fans out the plumes into a delicate semicircle, beautifully mottled with a series of undulating chevrons. Lovely!

Talkback: Cuckoo flower

Posted: 08/05/2013 at 09:31
To me it is always ladies' smock, food-plant of the orange-tip.

Talkback: Queen wasp

Posted: 20/04/2013 at 21:51
Dear Matty2, indeed anyone who has been stung by a wasp

It has become something of a cliché that every year I defend wasps, because 'they are our friends'. After birds and spiders wasps are some of the most important insect predators we have in our gardens, eating flies, caterpillars, aphids, leaf hoppers and all manner of other small critters. They are part of the natural balance that keeps us from being overrun by pests and diseases. They are pollinators too.

Wasps do sting, but so too do honeybees and bumblebees. In all the posts about bees on the Gardeners’ World website never once has anyone commented on the beastly unpleasantness of bee stings. Yet wasps constantly suffer this repeated accusation.

Enough is enough. Now I rant. And to achieve pompous grandiosity, I’ve written this in the third person pleural. For added emphasis.

We interact with the environment in many ways. We see it, but we also touch it, feel it, smell it, taste it, eat it, play in it, walk in it, lie down in it. We are the richer for this tactile, olfactory (and all the other) sensual interactions. Sometimes we react to the environment in a less than pleasant way. We might get a rash from rue, we might get a splinter from a log, or a thorn from a rose, or stub a toe on a rock. But beyond a quietly uttered curse, we do not complainingly disparage them.

Stinging nettles sting. Grass pollen may make us sneeze, or a tall plant stem might poke in the eye when we’re bending down. This does not make the world, or even individual parts of it, intrinsically dangerous or evil. It just means we are not merely casual observers of a disinterested cosmos. Life really isn’t like watching the telly. It’s a natural world out there. We are part of this natural world. So are wasps.
1 to 10 of 22

Discussions started by Richard Jones

Talkback: Big Garden Birdwatch 2014

So those sparrows I was going on about on Wednesday, they're do well then? I look forward to more squawking in the undergrowth. 
Replies: 1    Views: 721
Last Post: 09/04/2014 at 09:21

Talkback: Cuckoo flower

To me it is always ladies' smock, food-plant of the orange-tip. 
Replies: 2    Views: 951
Last Post: 12/05/2013 at 10:14

Talkback: Most common garden pests

Wot? No berberis sawfly? I await, with great anticipation, to see what effect the mild winter will have on all these 'pests'. 
Replies: 2    Views: 1335
Last Post: 14/10/2014 at 01:06
3 threads returned