Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The ivy canteen

At this time of year, Ivy [Hedera helix] le lierre is in full bloom.
We have a fine specimen on the bridge over the bief which is enjoying the unseasonable sunshine and warmth. Its many flowers provide an invaluable resource for bees, hoverflies and other insects that go particularly for the nectar, topping up the sugar levels in preparation for winter.

Even today, an overcast, humid November day, the ivy is busy with insects. No bees today, but plenty of flies, solitary wasps and beetles.

I hope someone may help me identify them!

A view from a bridge

Homing in
The closer you get, the more you can see
Closer still...

And the nectar-lovers are prey to the next level in the food chain - birds, lizards and spiders are lining up to be served. We have seen tits, robins, redstarts, wagtails and chiffchaffs diving in and out of the cloud of insects, snapping up the diners.

Meanwhile, the cats look on, more in hope than in expectation... maybe there will be a midair collision?

All through the year, the dense evergreen foliage provides shelter from wind and rain for small birds, insects and bats. Wrens are particularly fond of ivy as a roost.

In late winter, when other food is scarce, there will be juicy black berries which the blackbirds and thrushes love.

We've torn down this ivy more than once, but it has always grown back. Ivy quickly becomes too much ivy, and smothers more delicate plants, not to mention the damage its weight and clinging roots do to rendered walls. But we always leave some to flower - for the entertainment value alone!

1 comment:

Susan said...

The honey bee mimicking hoverflies in images 3, 6-8 are Drone Flies Eristalis cf interruptus -- could be more than one species. I can't tell what the black and yellow wasp is -- Cerceris sp maybe. Image 5 is a Greenbottle Lucilia sp.