The Wonder of Stridulating Orthoptera in Summer Meadows


Here in the UK, it may surprise you to learn that we have 5 species of ‘true’ cricket, 13 species of bush-cricket, and the mole-cricket. There are also 11 species of grasshopper. Crickets and grasshoppers are related species and belong to the orthoptera order.

How grasshoppers and crickets sing

The chirring sounds of grasshoppers and chirping sounds of crickets are within the range of human hearing and are part of the orchestral sound of summer, woven with birdsong. Read more

Magic in the Meadow – Field Notes During the Making of a Wildlife Documentary

Magic in the Meadow – Field Notes During the Making of a Wildlife Documentary

Filming wildlife is both rewarding and challenging. To skilfully capture wildlife behaviour on camera in their habitat requires technical expertise and a great deal of patient observation. Occasionally the help of a field assistant is required who may have expertise of particular wildlife, or may be needed as an extra pair of eyes in the field. The first time I worked for Stephen de Vere in this role was for his second wildlife documentary: Return to the River: Diary of a Wildlife Cameraman

“An uncut meadow in June is perhaps one of
the most unsung wonders of the British countryside.
It is like a forest in miniature”

Stephen de Vere

Read more

How to Rescue a Goldcrest or Any Bird That Hits a Window

Goldcrest display

Whilst working on the computer, I heard a thud on the window which sounded as though it may have been a bird. Much to my surprise a beautiful goldcrest was lying on the mini meadow on its front just beneath the sitting-room window with its small, olive-green wings spread out, dazed and motionless.

It was raining lightly and freezing cold which would not help it survive the shock of the impact. Read more

Why an Encounter With an Otter and Cubs in my Local Patch was Extra Special!

Otter and cub

I had a gut feeling that I would see otters before setting out that morning into the otherworldly mist before dawn. But my head often questions whether my heart is right, so I wasn’t sure. About fifteen minutes after arriving at the lake, I saw an otter’s head emerge from its waters in a nearby bay. It was clearly a female by the size of the head. Read more

How to Save the Water Vole: A Neighbourly Guide

Water vole

Thanks to my daughter, I was recently made aware of a water vole in a village pond one morning. Being passionate about water voles, I made my way there the same evening in great excitement. It would be my first pond vole, ever! On arrival, I immediately saw the tell-tale signs of a hidden water vole: vegetation periodically twitching as stems of Fool’s watercress were nipped by this invisible gardener. A few moments later, I glimpsed a small juvenile with its rich chestnut coat.

Eventually, a charming adult water vole with its round, chubby face appeared in full view. Read more

How to Start a Native Wildflower Meadow [6 Easy Steps]

The meadow in it's third year

In the UK we have some amazing native wildflowers. Unfortunately, we have lost a staggering 98% of our wildflower meadows and their poetic beauty since the 1930’s. This means that few people have seen an authentic one which is resulting in fashionable, highly colourful, non-native, perennial ‘meadows’.

This crucial loss is impacting on the many populations of bees, butterflies, pollinating bugs and birds who depend on UK native wildflower rich meadows which they co-evolved with. The simple act of sowing the right wildflowers can make a huge difference to wildlife and to your well-being. Read more

Jo’s Mini Meadow 6 – Bring the Magic of the Wool Carder Bee and Leafcutter Bee Into Your Life and Your Garden

Wool carder bee

I am amazed to discover there are over 270 bee species in Britain and Ireland and that bumblebees and honey bees only account for about one tenth of that figure. The wool carder and the leafcutter bees belong to the Megachile (leaf-cutting bee) group.

Both the wool-carder and the leafcutter are solitary bees. They nest in walls, as well as in dead wood and bee hotels provided by us. Wool carder bees also nest in hollow stems whereas leafcutters will occasionally use soil, twigs and the hollow stems of brambles. They are impressive engineers, magical to watch and this year my dream of seeing a wool carder bee came true. Read more

Jo’s Mini Meadow 5 – New Arrivals in the Orchard Meadow and a Mini Meadow Surprise

Musk Mallow and Field Scabious

The new orchard meadow has been a constant source of delight, awe and wonder from my very own kitchen window this spring and summer. With growing joy, I watched the plants beginning to flower that set seed last year. Their pollen and nectar attracted many solitary bees and bumblebees, including the fascinating Wool-carder Bee for the first time. Read more