Its been a weird year for weather but a very good year for wildlife, here at the rosybee site in south Oxfordshire.
We've been slowly developing the site over the 6 years since we bought it and it seems our efforts are now being rewarded. Most of our focus has been on bees, and the small flock of sheep my husband keeps, but the combined effect seems to be having much broader benefit.
In addition to increased bees, both in terms of numbers and species, this year I counted 16 species of butterflies. I have not been able to keep records of the many day-flying moths but it appears the night-flying ones are also very abundant based on two observations; firstly, some of my bee-friendly plants failed to attract many bees but were clearly being pollinated by something unseen as they set seed prolifically and second, the vast number of dismembered wings we have been finding in the polytunnel.
I had no idea what the significance was of the latter until Andy Salisbury - RHS entemologist - pointed out that this indicates a healthy bat population too. I keep both sides of the polytunnel fully open during the summer so we think that the bats swoop through, catching any moths stuck or sheltering under the canopy.
The increase in butterfly numbers is probably due to good supply of breeding habitats we have: areas of long untouched grass, shortish grass (where the sheep have been), patches of nettles and also a good supply of pollen and nectar. This year it rained so much mid-summer that we had so much grass of the sheep that we were able to keep them off some areas and let the clover flower. It was a joy to walk through with both butterflies and crickets darting out of the way.
Our pond is still a bit of a disappointment, not helped by ongoing issues with the liner that mean it often dries out, but it is still mellowing and showing potential. I can report it was visited by 2 different dragonflies, 3 damselflies, and our regular common newts.
I am beginning to track more than just the bees now so we can see if it was just a good year or if the site is really getting more bio-diverse.