Wednesday, 8 February 2017

" Woodies " in the Ivy !

It always surprises me when I glance out of the window, and I am confronted with four or five pigeons hanging from the Ivy and I do mean hanging from the Ivy its amazing the positions they get themselves in for such a large cumbersome Pigeon.

These Ivy berries first appear back in November of the previous year, but the birds do not eat them until now, although loved by a few species of birds I have only witnessed the Wood Pigeons, Blackbirds and the occasional Blackcap eating the berries, Thrushes such as the Redwing, Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush also like them but are rarely seen in the garden these days.

Female Blackcap

Wren in the Ivy

Blackbird from last winter

According to the RSPB these Ivy berries contain nearly as many calories as a "Mars Bar" gram for gram and explains why they are so popular, when at the end of winter food sources are running low.
Not so good for the human palette, all parts of the plant are toxic to humans, the berries are poisonous but because the berries are so bitter to taste, its rare for a person to ingest enough to become poisoned.

( The berries contain oxalates, needle-like crystals that cause pain and swelling in the lips, face, tongue, and skin.)

Its amazing how wildlife friendly a patch of Ivy is, and if you have this growing in your garden you will know this to be true. Mine covers an unsightly wall next to my pond, we have had Blackbirds nesting in the thick foliage, I have seen on occasion both Wren and Goldcrest searching through the leaves for a meal during the winter months.

It flowers in the Autumn and its a magnet for Bees, hoverflies and all manner of other insects. The Ivy Bee Colletes hederae  feeds exclusively on its flowers  and I am fortunate to see these in good numbers.

Ivy Bee's on Ivy flowers late summer
Holly Blue Butterfly seem also attracted to the ivy, a bit of research revealed that the Holly blue lays its second generation eggs in the summer on the Ivy for its caterpillars to feast on.

I am pretty sure that theirs a few  Red Admiral hibernating in there somewhere.

Moths are not to be left out, the caterpillars of Swallow tailed, Yellow-Barred Brindle and the Double Striped Pug all feed on Ivy leaves. I have seen the Swallow Tailed Moth in the garden, hopefully I may attract the others to my Moth trap this year.

It seems to me that Ivy in the garden is a positive for attracting wildlife,

 So eat on my fat feathered friends and enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Virtually everything has been stripped of berries now, that's probably why they've turned their attention to the ivy berries at this point