The web of life – badgers, bees and bee-flies

So here is a badger foraging in my garden

It digs holes and scrapes in its search for food

And then …. a Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva) excavates her nest in one of the badger scrapes – the entrance looks like a little volcano.

And this is the female Tawny Mining Bee who excavated this nest

And here she is emerging from her nest

Lurking nearby is the Dark Bordered Bee-fly (Bombylious major) which is a parasitoid i.e. it lays it egg in the burrow of the Tawny Mining Bee (and other species) – its larvae then eat the larvae of the bee

Also lurking in the nearby flower bed is Gooden’s Nomad Bee (Nomada goodeniana) – another parasitoid species, but this a bee not a fly and fortunately for the Tawny Mining Bee it lays its eggs in the nests of other Mining Bee species

And all of this happening in my back garden in Exeter over the past couple of weeks …..

Chiefs – Champions of England – their Victory Parade

Exeter Chiefs are the champions of English rugby

Let that sink in

They were in the second division 7 years ago

Here are my photos of the victory parade yesterday in Exeter High Street

15,000 people – quite a thing

Tony Rowe, Rob Baxter, Gareth Steemson, Thomas Waldron, Henry Slade, Jack Nowell et al – I salute you all

The times though are a changing – armed police on the streets – most fortunately not required

Well done Chiefs

(the arm bit in some of the photos is the Tomahawk Chop)

You’ve put Exeter on the national map

Thanks Police

No trains to and from Exeter for 48 hours

Storm Angus and yesterday’s ‘Amber’ rain have taken their toll, flooding is widespread and disruption is extensive.

This graphic from the website FloodAlerts from yesterday afternoon sums up the problems in Devon and Somerset

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-07-54-24This is the gauging station data from the Exe in Exwick where I live – the first peak (20/11) shows the water levels caused by Storm Angus, the second peak (yesterday) is as a result of the ‘amber’ rain – note this is a new record high.

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-08-21-43As a result this has just been issued by the BBC – no trains in and out of Exeter for 48 hours – we’ve been here before ……. (see here)

We have undoubtedly had a lot of rain but many of us think the problems have been exacerbated by certain land management practices – I have written extensively about this in the past with particular reference to maize cultivation (see here for all my writing on that topic) and today my Twitter feed is full of other people saying pretty much the same thing.

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-08-39-55Here is a tweet from an Environment Agency Manager in Herefordshire – look familiar?

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-08-39-32And here is the Chief Executive of the West Country River’s Trust making the same point by commenting on flood management expert Phil Brewin’s tweet and photos from Somerset

Understanding management practices on land are essential in the fight against flooding and maize in inappropriate places really makes things worse. Many of us have also been arguing  for ‘natural flood management’ solutions such as those implemented at Holnicote (see here)

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-09-05-12Here is a tweet (yesterday evening at 5pm) from Nigel Hester of the National Trust who project managed the Holnicote Natural Flood Management Project

Ironically yesterday the Guardian published a piece which featured Holnicote and stated that the Government is not funding any Natural Flood Management Schemes at present – see here.

Lets hope some of these things change soon.

The art of the Exeter University Business School

I went to a talk the other day which was held in the Exeter University’s Business School ‘Building:One’. When I was an undergraduate there wasn’t a Business School at Exeter! The Business School was opened in 1998 and it is an impressive suite of buildings and even today 18 years after it opened it still looks new and fresh.

I really like the ‘World in our Hands’ sculpture on the piazza in front of Building: One

The sculpture neatly ties in with the School’s top MBA (Masters in Business Administration) which is entitled the ‘One Planet MBA‘ about which the University says ‘The One Planet MBA equips you to harness innovative business thinking and new business models that can deliver organisational growth whilst addressing global economic, social, environmental and technological challenges.’

I did my MBA at the Open University (whilst I was working for the National Trust) at about the same time the Exeter University Business School was getting going and whilst that was a very good experience and course it wasn’t so strong environmental and social issues.

A silver globe by the entrance of Building: One which is constantly fed with a stream of water – life on our planet is inextricably linked with water

Autumn leaves

I had 5 minutes to spare before I went to a lecture yesterday so I had a walk around the grounds of Exeter University near to the Queen’s Building. I really like the arboretum at the University and in the autumn / winter you can often get some spectacular colours.

I’m not entirely sure what species this is but it looks like a oriental maple?


I wasn’t the only one to have been attracted to the arboretum – someone had spent a long time putting together this rather impressive leaf / cone art installation – very Andy Goldsworthy!


Reed Hall Exeter

Yesterday I spent a little time exploring the campus at Exeter University – I have a meeting today at Reed Hall and wanted to make sure I knew where it was! I have been there before  but …


Reed Hall is the oldest building at the University and contains the magical arboretum. Here is a bit of history.


Reed Hall was formerly known as Streatham Hall and was built for Richard Thornton West in 1867.   The impressive Italian style terrace gardens lead to the extensive collection of specimen trees and shrubs planted by the famous plant importer Robert Veitch who had nurseries in Exeter in the mid to late 1800s (I’ve written about the tree collection at Exeter University before – see here).  The 1903 sales prospectus  suggested that ‘the mansion is surrounded by most beautiful pleasure grounds arranged in terraces and including an exquisite Italian garden, with lake and superb conservatory and palm house.  There are extensive fruit and vegetable gardens and complete range of glass . . . The Builder and Gardener have manifestly worked hand-in-hand and, under the mellowing effects of time, nature has perfected in her generous way the original design.’  Surviving garden features also include the pinetum and ornamental pond with fountains.  The Palm House was removed to the Imperial Wetherspoon’s pub on St David’s Hill and is now one of the bars.

Just up from the formal gardens is a fallen pine which has been conserved and curated to tell its history. I like things like this!




Perhaps in due course a few more events could be added which are a little bit more outward looking.

The whole area (i.e. the grounds around Reed Hall) is open to the public and if you haven’t been it is well worth a visit.