The reserve’s ivy flowers between September and November; each plant’s flowering season is quite short but a succession of plants flowers all through the autumn. The flowers are small, green and yellow, and so insignificant-looking that many people don’t realise that that they are flowers at all.
However, these tiny flowers produce copious amounts of nectar and pollen at a time of year when both are in short supply. They advertise themselves with a heavy sweet scent and the nectar feeders flock to them. In the autumn sunshine there are young queen wasps feeding in the ivy, and butterflies that will overwinter in their adult form, building up their reserves for hibernation. There are honey bees and ivy bees, a new species in the UK which feeds only on ivy, and beetles that come to feed on the pollen.
And ivy attracts flies; hover flies of all kinds, brightly coloured, striped and chequered; blow flies and flesh flies; deer flies, horse flies, midges and mosquitoes. You can hear an ivy in flower; on a warm day, it buzzes like a bee swarm.
This autumnal feast for insects eventually becomes a feast for insectivores. Dragonflies and hornets will hunt around a flowering ivy, and little insectivorous birds, wrens and dunnocks, appear in the hedges nearby.