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Friends of Studham Common

Nature Notes:  October 2009
By Pat and Charles

Some rain at last, after such a dry September. Trees have started to shed their leaves in response to the lack of water and autumn colours are appearing early. The grass is brown and dry in many places but will soon recover when the soil gets properly wet. Most grasses are shallow-rooted so are more affected by drought than the deeper rooted plants such as clovers. We like plenty of clover in our lawn so that it stays green in dry conditions and we are not tempted to get the hose out.

The September sunshine has kept butterflies and bumblebees active. A new species of bumblebee was first found in Britain in Wiltshire in 2001 and has spread since then arriving in Bedfordshire a year or so ago. We first saw it in Studham this summer. Known as the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum), it prefers to nest in holes in trees and also bird boxes. It’s the only bumblebee with a ginger thorax and a black abdomen with a white tip.  It is said to be more aggressive and ready to sting than other bumblebees.

Pam Rumfitt’s work in looking after the dormouse boxes on the Common has been well rewarded this summer by a dormouse nest in one of the boxes - the first seen here for several years. This is exciting confirmation that these elusive animals are still active on the Common. This is the Hazel Dormouse, not the larger Edible Dormouse (also known as Glis-glis) which gets into the roofs of houses and makes itself a nuisance there.

The Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - website:

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Dormouse Nest?

Tree Bumblebee

(Bombus hypnorum)

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Dormouse

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