If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

About Me

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

09 March, 2014

Say hello to Daphne for me!

In our garden we have a shrub, a daphne, that is in full flower and has been for about three weeks now.
Today (9th March 2014) it has been visited by at least four small tortoiseshells, two red admirals and a peacock. Not only these butterflies but also buff-tailed bumble-bees, honey bees, a hoverfly (Eristalis tenax) and, most surprisingly perhaps, a humming-bird hawk-moth. Also a regular visitor to the garden today, but not to daphne, a brimstone butterfly.
Now I do not write this as an attempt to show off and to say how great our garden is, wildlife gardening is not, despite what some think, a competitive sport! No,
it is just that it has triggered two thoughts in my mind.
These insects I have mentioned have one thing in common, they hibernate over winter. In spring, and today was certainly spring-like, they emerge and immediately seek food. My first thought is, therefore, that there are very few shrubs (if any) in flower in the wild at present so just how important are our gardens to these insects? To me it demonstrates a nature garden does not have to be full of just native plants, any nectar bearing shrub or flower is welcome despite what some theorists might tell you. It also shows the benefit of trying to have plants in your garden that flower at different times of year to provide all year round nectar. 
Secondly, is it not encouraging that in early March such a variety of insects are up and about and, apparently, in good numbers too? The mild winter has, it seems, been a real boon to these creatures and maybe more will have survived than in harsh winters. Given the pressures our insects are under, to have a good boost to the new breeding season must surely be welcome. Perhaps we can look forward to a summer with far more of these little treasures than we have seen in recent years?