Solitary Bee Village Progress Report – 11 May
The warm spells of weather in late April and again in May saw some encouraging activity in the new bee village.
In late April we witnessed good populations of the Plasterer Bee (Colletes cunicularius). Although being nationally scarce our local population numbered at least 100 individuals and possibly up to 200. They were photographed by Ed Phillips while they were engaged in frantic burrowing and mating. Solitary bees have their own species of smaller klepto-parasitic bees. These normally measure 10mm or less and either steal the pollen from the burrows of the host bee or lay their eggs in the burrow, with the larvae feeding on that of the host bee.
Moving into May, the first of the holes in the hardwood bee posts were occupied by Red Mason-Bees (Osmia bicornis). These lay eggs in multiple compartments within each hole. Currently, around 12 of the 7-9mm holes are occupied but more are being taken all the time. The Ashy Mining-Bee has also been seen in low numbers.
Given that this is the village’s first season this level of activity gives hope that the village will be a success in terms of both the abundance and diversity of solitary bees and wasps at the reserve.
Ian Barrie & Sheila Royle (11 May 2018)
Photos: Top, Plasterer Bees (Ed Phillips) Centre, Parasitic Bee (Ed Phillips) Botton, Red Mason Bee (Ian Barrie)
Acknowledging FENR Grants – 6 March
A generous grant from Shropshire Towns & Rural Housing funded the planting of over 150m of hawthorn dominant, mixed species hedging; a key habitat which the reserve has been lacking. This will become excellent habitat for birds, butterflies and a wide range of invertebrates. Thanks to all the volunteers who turned out to complete the planting.
The Postcode Local Trust
The Postcode Local Trust kindly awarded a grant which enabled us to remodel a prominent copse at the reserve. All the dense, weak growth was felled and removed. The copse itself has been replanted with a range of native deciduous species, including alder buckthorn, field maple, crab apple, hazel, dog rose, honeysuckle and a single black poplar. The large amount of felled timber will be recycled into large habitat piles for the benefit of the local amphibians and sheltering invertebrates. Our thanks also go to teams from the Shropshire Probation Service which undertook the hard manual labour, without which the project could not have succeeded.
Work Party for Hedge & Tree Planting – 17 February
A huge thank you to the volunteers who helped to plant the hedge & trees last Saturday. So much was achieved. We hope to finish it off with a second push on Tuesday 20th at 10am. Hope to see you there.
Work Party – 12 January
Following on the Wednesday’s work party, contractors were on site from Thurs – Friday. ‘Digger John’ Higgins formed the new vertical sandy face in the solitary bee village, with a bund above and ‘JP’ John Brayford & Abby cleared much of the weak growth from the copse. ‘Digger’ also removed a large area of scrub birch/willow from around the old pond. The ‘Open Mosaic Habitat’ is being restored. Thanks to all who participated in this major improvement.
Solitary Bee Village – 15 November
A small but dedicated team turned out for the work party to install the solitary bee village.
We decided to concentrate on the components kindly funded by the Green Shropshire Xchange – the bee posts and perforated drums.
Thanks to Sheila, Eunice and Tony for their hard work, well into the afternoon, while not forgetting Lee Fraser from Shrops County. Well done all.
Access Improvements – 3 November
The Awards for All funded project to upgrade our tracks & access is progressing well. The crushed rock & rolled dust top applied to all the main tracks will be completed today. The viewing platform over the seasonal pond was completed last week. The Radar gates and information boards are in the pipeline.
ENR Solitary Bee Village – 9 October
Ed Phillips (our bee expert on the open day) visited this week to advise on design aspects of the solitary bee village.
While here he noticed a burrowing bee, which turned out to be an Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae) – the latest emerging solitary bee in the UK. First recorded in the UK in 2001, it is spreading north.
This record is one of the most northerly.
Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae)
Path Construction – 18 September
The main phase of the Awards for All project started today.
Over the next several weeks there will be deliveries of crushed rock and teams on hand to spread this over the circular and other tracks.
While we do not expect the reserve to close, clearly there will be temporary hazards on site.
Please avoid the construction materials and keep children in particular under close supervision.
We apologize for any inconvenience.
ENR Bat Survey: Three Species of Pipistrelle – 15 August
Ten people turned out for our first organized bat survey which went ahead at 8.45 in a fine evening with near ideal conditions.
The first bat detected was a Soprano Pipistrelle (frequency 55 kHz) near the car park where bat boxes have been erected. All was then quiet until we reached the picnic area where both Soprano and Common Pipistrelle (45 kHz) were picked up.
The next find was the highlight though – a probable Nathusius Pipistrelle (38 kHz) at the edge of the large meadow. Pete and Rachael Evans had previously detected a Nathusius in the same general area. Nathusius are rare and not often associated with Shropshire.
So although not great in abundance, we detected three good species, including two which will now be added to our species list. Thanks to Steve Sprules-Wright for leading the group and SVCP for the detectors.
Results of the butterfly survey at the reserve – 6 August
Eleven species recorded, totalling 51 butterflies:
Meadow Brown 10
Red Admiral 6
Common Blue 5
Small White 4
Brown Argus 3
Speckled Wood 3
Small Tortoiseshell 2
Large White 2
Painted Lady 1
Thanks to all who took part.
Bird Hide Upgrades – 24 July
We have continued to improve & upgrade the fabric of the bird hide. Most recently a new, very heavy-duty felt roof was fitted. Our thanks go to Rob Day (aka Rob the Roofer) of Roof Rescue, Broseley for supplying the felt and kindly fitting it, ably assisted by Dale Payne.
Nature Reserve Wins Grant to Upgrade Facilities – 25 June
Eardington Nature Reserve has just been awarded a £10,000 grant to undertake some vital improvements. The grant from the Big Lottery Fund ‘Awards for All’ scheme will result in major improvements to the internal track network, giving ease of access to most of the reserve, including the wetlands, picnic area and bird hide.
Ian Barrie, Chair of the Friends Group added “The award is fantastic news. The reserve is generally flat, but from the autumn through to spring the paths become wet and muddy which restricts access. The new all-weather paths will be welcomed by everyone, but especially those with impaired mobility.” Two new RADAR gates, which are operated with a remote control, will further improve access for wheelchair and mobility scooter users.
Over and above the paths, Shropshire Council, who own the lease to the reserve, are contributing a notice board and an access platforms to one of the ponds. Further information boards, which will provide background on the history of the quarry and the wildlife, will also be lottery funded.
Work is expected to commence in late July and will hopefully be nearing completion in the autumn.
Nest Box Survey Results – 2017
The final nest has just fledged and has completed a highly successful season; the highlights include [2016 results in brackets]:
11 weekly checks were undertaken between 26 March & 4 June [6 in 2016]
12 nests were occupied , comprising 7 Blue Tit, 3 Great Tit, 1 Coal Tit & 1 Robin
All clutches fledged, except for the robin which was predated.
Including the robin nest, the total number of eggs reached 91  of which 81 successfully fledged .
The number of nest boxes placed, enhanced from the PLT grant, was 40 
The occupancy rate was 30% [19%]
Peak egg laying took place over the 2ndhalf of April [early May]
Great Tit nests tended to be higher than those of Blue Tit and with larger access holes.
The refurbishment of 10 wooden boxes and the relocation of many others, in addition to the 14 new nest boxes, has resulted in a significant increase in activity.
The decision to purchase Woodstone boxes was rewarded with higher occupancy rates compared to the wooden ones, which were admittedly a little late in being re-positioned (early March). Sadly, the targeted species (Marsh Tit, Tree Sparrow & Starling) failed to use the new facilities this year.
As relatively few changes will be made following this season, we are expecting a further increase in occupancy in 2018, with higher rates in the refurbished wooden boxes in particular. Any alterations undertaken will be influenced by the 2017 survey results.
We also have a large owl/kestrel box, donated by SVCP volunteers, which we plan to erect along the northern boundary.
Thanks to both Ange & Eddie who assisted in the 2017 survey.