12 March 2012 – Wildlife report just in! BP always does a weekly walk round the Gardens and records his findings. The warm weather of the last few days has seen insects stirring. All sighted at the Gardens today, a seven spotted ladybird, a bumblebee, and a millipede. Close to our bird hide a great spotted woodpecker and a goldfinch have been spotted. BP also reports hearing a mistlethrush, a buzzard and a greenfinch. New flowers this week, are the lungwort.
Also, the birds have been more active with Spring approaching. Some have started singing, including Dunnock, Wren and Nuthatch, and Great Spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper have both been present. The treecreeper is a small, inconspicuous brown and white bird that climbs trees looking for insects. An old name for it is ‘Mouse Bird’.
A rare non-native plant found last year, at Martineau Gardens, that has kept the experts guessing, has finally been confirmed as the tooth-pick plant (Ammi visnaga (L.) Lam). A garden volunteer was weeding an area around the sundial lawn and spotted a plant that she didn’t recognise. Our wildlife advisor, Brian Perry (pictured here) , called in Mike Poulton (Botanist for the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust) who took a sample which was sent to the Botanical Society for the British Isles (BSBI) referee for alien plants Dr J. L. Mason who confirmed our find. Mike says: “The Martineau Gardens tooth- pick plant find is a first for Birmingham.” The plant is an annual, so we will have to see if it returns.
We have been appreciating the fungi in the woods today. I am told by BP our wildlife recorder, that the mild weather has extended the season for mushrooms and toadstools. Today I have just been shown wood blewit, milk cap, bell cap and a wonderful shaggy parasol nestling in piles of leaves in the wildlife area of the Gardens.
Why not come down to the Gardens this week and see if you can find any fungi? You’re welcome to borrow a field guide to help you with a fungus walk whilst you’re here. Have a look at these pages on the Woodland Trust’s website for further details.
Veronica Lawrie (Ecologist for Atkins) carried out an early spring wildflower survey, identifying a further 66 species to add to our records.
On March 18 2011, in the bright sunshine of early spring, Veronica toured the Gardens recording her findings:
“As winter passes to spring there are a few species that start flowering much earlier than most. These species include snow drop and spring crocus which are just finishing flowering at Martineau Gardens. The first yellow dial-like flowers of lesser celandine were found open, and purple toothwort could be seen emerging through the soil of a new location within the garden. Patches of lungwort and the less common red lungwort were recorded, as well as a variety of daffodil species. In the woodland the flowers of creeping comfrey and early dog violet were found. Primrose flowers were just opening. Several species of bee were seen foraging around these early flowers. Spring is underway at the gardens.”
Martineau Gardens now have 246 confirmed species of flowering plants within the Gardens. A full Botanical Species List which draws all the previous plant surveys into one place will be available on the website soon. A fantastic resource for us all. Our thanks to Veronica and Atkins for this support!