The Great Glasshouse

Well it had to happen – a wet Tuesday morning in Wales!  And as it had been correctly forecast we were prepared.  As Bruce said, noone has really looked at insect life in the Great Glasshouse or the Tropical House. So this seemed an excellent time to do just that, otherwise winter would be on us and there certainly wouldn’t be that much in the Great Glasshouse.

So in we went and as Keith said afterwards, ‘when we went in first of all I didn’t think we would be there long’.  But two hours later we were still there.  As soon as we started looking carefully we found all manner of insects.  First off, and a constant theme, were Wasps, very dozy Wasps coming to the end of their lives, a perfectly natural phenomenon as only the queens survive the winter.  Much as we may dislike them they form a very necessary part of the eco-system, often preying on pests as well as us.

Most of the insects that we found were small and, apart from birds in the shape of Sparrows and Robins and the fish in the pool, we didn’t see any mammals.  But we know that mice and rats are there.  As for the Sparrows, they are doing very well, as can be seen from this shot of this years young.  But of course, they have completely ignored the nest boxes carefully put up for them.

As well as Hoverflies, Spiders, Flies and many other little flying insects there were the inevitable Aphids.  But not just any Aphids, rather beautiful pink ones.  It certainly makes a change to admire such an insect whose method of breeding is such that if all survived the world would be smothered in them.  And another interesting fact we discovered, thanks to an incident in Jan’s childhood which resulted in a phobia of House Spiders – she’s fine with all other sorts, something which marks her out as a true Naturalist.  Who else would know the difference?  And the deterrent for House Spiders?  Horse Chestnuts spread around the house, or essence of Horse Chestnuts if you are able to extract it, but they are apparently very difficult to grind up in a food mixer!

The fish in the pool are Goldfish of various kinds.  There were originally about 20 or so and they have interbred over the years.

Afterwards we gathered in Bruce’s office to look at and photograph the fungus that we had found growing inside a hazel nut which Keith had found the previous week whilst looking for evidence of Dormice.  At first sight they are simply white dots inside the nut, but on closer inspection they are far more interesting.  Usually they grow on the outside of these nuts, but these had migrated inside an opened one.

If you find an injured bird, hedgehog or other wild animal and want help and advice then phone the Gower Bird hospital. on 01792 371630.

Thanks as always to John for his photos. If any volunteer or member is interested in joining us please  send an email to Colin Miles  – you DON’T have to be an expert in anything, just interested.   If you click on any of the images in these blogs, or anywhere else you will see a larger picture. And if you click on the Wildlife Walks heading on the left-hand side under News you will see a list of the last 10 Wildlife Walk blogs

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