Birds of Marlpit Community Garden August 2016

Swifts and a microlite

Swifts and a microlite

Groups of swifts have been flying over the Garden lately. These birds are the most aerial of all our birds, never intentionally alighting on the ground, feeding on flying insects, they do nearly everything on the wing, even mating! They sleep on the wing, circling higher and higher into the sky in the evening and dozing for a few seconds at a time as they glide along through the night.

The only thing they cannot do on the wing is Continue reading

22nd July 2016 – Newsletter Number 21

What’s on

Growing-information for July

Click to see information on the website

Recent events

image007 Swarming bees P1230324-5

A Swarm at Marlpit Community Garden.

Last Friday morning Tish discovered that one of the hives was preparing to swarm. Honeybees were leaving and gathered in a nearby Blackthorn bush in the hedge by the Forest Garden.
Tish rang Mahesh, who called in Jim, and together he and Tish managed to capture the swarm.

Tish took these photos – click to enlarge –

1 - Old home - these bees stayed putOld home – these bees stayed put

2 - Swarming beesSwarming bees

3 - Swarm landed

Swarm landed

4 - Where is the swarm?Where is the swarm?

5 - Temporary accommodationTemporary accommodation

6 - Evening outside their new homeEvening outside their new home

7 - The new tenants at number 4The new tenants at number 4 8 - The bees safely housed - time for home after a long daySafely housed – time for home after a long day

Jim’s Bee Movie” on Youtube or Click here to see these photos by Jim (in OneDrive).

PS Yesterday (21 July) we acquired a new hive generously donated by Gareth, who has recently had to stop keeping bees.

2016-07-21 10.51.39

8th July 2016 – Newsletter Number 20

What’s on
Recent events

Saturday 16th July 2016: Gardening Training at Marlpit Community Garden

1. “All about pests and diseases“, with Jon Darby and Mahesh Pant, from 10 am to 1 pm
2. “MORE FLOWERS – Lavender, Chamomile, Calendula, Meadowsweet, Mullein, St Johns Wort“, with Alex Hobbs, from 1 pm to 4 pm

Remember, there are two free spaces each for Bluebell and Marlpit Team Leaders/Regular Volunteers!
For further information and to book your place, please contacts us at the address below.

Sustainable Living Initiative
Marlpit Community Centre
Hellesdon Road
Norwich NR6 5EG.
Tel: 01603 920570; Mob: 07969996646

Annual Members Meeting 2016

SLI_AGM_3-7-2016Twenty-one members attended the AGM at Marlpit Community Centre on Sunday 3rd July, followed by a delicious lunch prepared by the food team.
SLI_AGM_3-7-2016_2Follow this link to read Christine’s minutes in the Members Area of our website.

P1220940Marlpit Community Garden Open Day 2016

Our third Open Day on 25th June was a relaxed occasion attended by a steady stream of visitors.

The three sheep and their ‘furry friends’ were a big draw. Local children and their parents headed straight for the animals where they had the opportunity to touch a snake as well as stroking the sheep, rabbits and a guinea pig. They participated in activities provided by ‘Angelica’s Rainbow’ before heading up to the gazebo for refreshments.

Excellent homemade cakes were provided by Mahesh and Kathy, and Tish brought along elderflower cordial made from Marlpit flowers. Honey from our own bees was offered for sale, but the limited supplies sold out fast.

As well as chatting and having their questions answered in the gazebo visitors were shown round the garden by Mahesh.

We were lucky with the weather for most of the event, but finished early due to heavy rain.
To see Jim’s photos click here.


Times-bee-33b8c5fc-8eef-11e5_1014447cNews – Organic pesticide increases risk to bees!

The Times 20/11/2015

Biologists were astonished to find that nematode worms, … Organic pesticide increases risk to bees. … are more harmful to bumblebees than …


honey extractorWe extracted 16lbs of gorgeous honey from our bees on 24th June. This was much less than I had anticipated. When I checked three weeks earlier the bees appeared to have plenty of honey to spare. However, because of the cold, wet weather they have been drawing heavily on their stores to feed their young. Honey bees can’t go out foraging in poor weather.

In fact the National Bee Unit has since issued warnings to beekeepers to check their bees in case of starvation, and to feed them if necessary. I have been checking, and although the hives where I took honey still have sufficient, I have had to feed the other two colonies with syrup (that is sugar dissolved in water) to tide them over.

The bees collect honey for food and convert it to honey to store it. They also collect pollen to feed their young, and in the process pollinate our crops and flowers. So, of course, honey is first and foremost for the bees. Having said that, if we have a good summer I hope that they will have more surplus honey that we can harvest later in the year.

Tish (Beekeeper)

Last year’s Honey Day

Birds of Marlpit Community Garden July 2016

A number of species of the crow family (Corvidae) have been prominent in the Garden recently.

Flocks of rooks fly over, and carrion crows and jackdaws have been feeding in the grassy areas near the lake.

crows_or_rooks_flyingRooks are difficult to distinguish from carrion crows, both being black birds of around the same size (about 45 cm) but if you get a good enough view you should be able to see the pale, bare skin on the front of the face of the rook. You will also see it’s ‘baggy trousers’, with the plumage looser where the legs join the body. One thing to beware of is juvenile rooks, who lack the pale skin on the face. The voice (kaaa) is slightly higher pitched and less guttural than the carrion crow (kraa) .

Rooks feed mainly on earthworms and insect larvae, but like most crows will take a wide variety of foods, including cereal grains, fruit, acorns, small mammals and birds and carrion. They can frequently be seen on motorways feasting on road kill.

One of the main characteristics of rooks is their sociability. They stick together in flocks, and breed together in tree top colonies known as rookeries. They are not always faithful partners in these communal nesting areas. Polygamy occurs, with older males mating with the females of younger males who are less able to defend them. Despite this, rooks usually pair for life, and pairs spend a lot of time together, vocalising, preening one another and even feeding one another.crows_feeding

Rooks are typically birds of arable farmland, and the population has increased slightly in the past few decades, indicating that it has adapted better to changing agricultural practices than other farmland birds, such as the linnet, yellowhammer, grey partridge and lapwing, whose populations have fallen dramatically. There are now about 1.1 million pairs of rooks in the UK.

crows_or_jackdaws_in_treeCarrion crows are less sociable than rooks, though the old adage that ‘a rook on its own is a crow’ is not entirely true, since non-breeding birds will form small flocks. However, crows always nest singly, building nests out of sticks, usually in trees, but sometimes on buildings, cliff ledges or pylons.

They take a wide variety of food, not just carrion, but also insects, worms, seeds, fruit and scraps. They will also harass birds of prey and even foxes to drive them from their kills.
Crows are amongst the most intelligent of all animals and in Japan they will drop nuts in the traffic at pedestrian crossings, wait for passing cars to crack them open, then go and retrieve them when the lights turn red.

Jackdaws are the smallest member of the crow family in Britain, and like rooks are very sociable. They nest in colonies and stick together in flocks, often feeding alongside rooks on arable land. They eat grains, seeds, berries, insects and other invertebrates, and eggs and young birds.

Like rooks, jackdaws pair for life. However, unlike rooks and crows, they nest in holes, such as chimneys or holes in trees.

Their scientific name, Corvus monedula, comes from the Latin for money ‘moneta’, referring to the jackdaw’s habit of picking up shiny objects such as coins and jewellery.

Even if you can’t judge the size, they are easily distinguished from rooks and crows, even though all three are black, by the grey nape of the neck. There calls are also distinctive, a high pitched ‘jack’, which some people suggest is the origin of the name, although ‘jack’ is also an old English word for small.

The population in the UK is 1.4 million pairs. It rose in the 20th century and continues to rise.

Chris Keene