February 2022

The end of winter was a grey and wet affair in Bristol, especially considering the dry winter we have witnessed. Hibernation and dormancy in many species is coming to an end and resident wildlife, as well as those species that just like to visit, are slowly becoming apparent. See our diary entry for February 2022 (click HERE).

The garden, looking drab and miserable, February 2022

DC 08/03/2022

January 2022

Progress in the garden is slow as one would expect in January, but there is always plenty going on and worth keeping an eye out for firsts of the year.

22nd January 2022

Firsts of the year!

Blackbirds, Carrion Crows, Black caps, Robins, Blue Tits, Gold Finch and Starlings have all been about in good numbers. A small patch of Hairy Bittercress became the first plant to flower this year (on the 3rd January), closely followed by the Hazel, who’s catkins opened and its tiny red flowers emerged to be pollinated, thus ensuring a crop of Hazel Nuts this coming year.

We finally had our first significant frost on the 14th January, with the wetland pond freezing over completely. We ended up with a few days of frosts but no sign of snow. Indeed we had some very mild weather.

New species already!!!

We’ve already recorded some new species this year to add to the project list. Having ended 2021 with a list of 406 species, we have now jumped to 411. As per the previous blog there was the spider Zygiella x-notata, which since first recording we are noticing everywhere. Also two new snail species, a Glass Snail – Aegopinella nitidula (left below) and the Girdled Snail – Hygromia cinctella (right below).

Add to this a tiny species of woodlouse called Trichonsicoides sarsi (left below) and our first identified Springtail Dicyrtomina saundersi (right below), both of which require a microscope to identify. The microscope revealed several other species, including at least 3 other species of springtail and a mite which we are yet to identify. Plus what we think is a soldier fly larvae.

One regular visitor, in fact an almost permanent visitor to the garden, are the midges that swarm around the ponds. We are yet to attempt to capture and identify one. But even in the middle of January, when not much else is stirring, here they are again, swarming and mating and making our heads itch (not that these ones bite).

The wildlife pond on the middle layer of the garden was cleared of much of its silt in December (see below), to lower the pond nutrients and be more favourable to a greater variety of wildlife. No signs of amphibians returning to the pond yet, but hoping to hear some noise in the coming weeks.

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Since we noted the bottom of the garden flooding in the summer, we have also noticed that many of the more invasive species in the garden, particularly those that like wet conditions have spread. This is likely because the flooding occurred during heavy rainfall just as many flowering plants were setting seed. Most notably over the winter we have seen Hairy Bittercress, Curled Dock and Creeping Buttercup pop up in good numbers. We spent a good amount of time plucking Bittercress from all over the garden, amassing a large pile, but it keeps appearing in new locations and we may have a fight on our hands.

The creeping buttercup last year was found solely under the hazel / maple border. However a new patch has formed adjacent to the new wetland area as shown below (left). We decided we needed to nip this spread in the bud, so we firstly raked the whole patch to remove much of the leaf area and hopefully break the rhizomes by which it spreads.

To further attack the rhizomes we then made repeated 20mm cuts into the soil using a shovel (left below) and have since covered the whole area with pond liner to help prevent it recovering (right below). How successful this will be we will find out in the spring, but already we are finding new patches emerging.

That’s probably enough for now, but plenty going on as usual.

DC 31/01/2022

Zygiella x-notata – New Garden Species

Well, it’s a new year and it didn’t take long to confirm our latest new garden species, and we are so glad to see another species of spider.

Zygiella x-notata is a very common species and we have likely just overlooked it to date. Viewed up close it really is a fantastic looking animal, which we found tucked away earlier today within a bunch of hazel catkins.

This really was a tiny animal, but we were able to get some good close up photographs using a cheap macro iphone lens attachment.

Welcome to the garden…

DC 09/01/2022

The Black Ant – Lasius niger

Black ants are a part of everyday life for most of us, and a nuisance to some when they infiltrate our homes. But watch them in the garden, even for a short while and you will likely notice some form of interesting behaviour. In our 15th Article we look at some of the observations we recorded of this species during 2021.


DC: 01/01/2022

Introducing the Hoverflies!

Article 14 of our project to record and attract wildlife to a garden in Brislington focuses on one of the most colourful, advantageous (if you’re a gardener) and numerous insects that, whilst perhaps not as appreciated as the average butterfly or bumblebee, are just as interesting and important. In this article we also cover what we can do to benefit the 12 species we have recorded and hopefully attract more. We also explain how, if you decide to record hoverflies yourself, you can contribute to a national recording scheme.

If you’re interested in these little insects visit our articles page and have a look…


DC 13/12/2021

Hazel Aphid / Leek Moth / Minettia fasciata

As one aim of Wildlifegarden.org is to demonstrate the amazing diversity of life that can still be found in our gardens and open spaces, in particular around the Brislington area of Bristol, we will be focusing on the more obscure species just as much as the common things we sometimes take for granted.

To this end, we have added two species accounts to the Articles page which may be of interest to those vegetable gardeners out there who like their alliums as well as anyone living near a hazel tree. Article 12 covers the Leek Moth, whilst article 13 takes a quick look at the bizarre annual life cycle of the tiny Hazel Aphid.

In addition, we have added one more species to the garden list, a little fly which the Facebook UK Diptera group helped us identify. It’s fair to say we didn’t have a clue. So welcome to the garden our little representative of the Minettia fasciata species group. We are still learning what a ‘species group’ means in terms of Diptera (true flies). It likely refers to a group of species so similar that to identify them requires DNA techniques (a little beyond our skill set!) or that need microscopic examination, probably requiring us to euthanize the specimen. Not something we object to but not something we are looking to do ourselves.

So if you’re interested in these species, go have a look at the Articles and Gallery pages of our website…


DC 05/12/2021

Willughby’s Leafcutter Bee – New Garden Species (MLS)

Two in two days, and coincidentally this new species belongs in the same family as yesterdays Sharp-Tail Bee. It really does pay to go back over the hundreds of photographs digital photography allows you to take. This one totally bypassed us until now. Photographed on the 26th June 2021, another listed as Most Likely Species (MLS) this time on account of it being the most common of the potential species it could be.

26th June 2021

So welcome to the garden Willughby’s Leafcutter Bee. My Bee book suggests these guys do love a good bug Hotel, so hopefully when ours is finished (nearly there) we will see plenty more of these bees next summer.

DC 28/11/2021

Sharp-tailed Bee – New Garden Species (MLS)

Just going through some of this summers photographs and one bee I had thought was another Ashy Mining Bee I noticed had a strange bottom (or more accurately spines on tergites 5 and 6), this meant this was in fact a Sharp-tailed bee species. We think it’s possibly a Large Sharp-tailed Bee (Coelioxys conoidea) but its not really possible to tell. So for now will mark it as Most Likely Species in the species list, and welcome to the garden.

DC 27th November 2021