Viola Stirling’s Nature Diary: 6 Nov 1919

Viola starts her entry with another sighting of a white pheasant, although this time with some brown feathers breaking up the white.

Viola is in Wasp Nest Field and this reminds her of digging up a large ‘bike’ the week before. ‘Bike’ is an old Scots word for a bee hive or an ants’ nest, however, Viola uses it to describe a wasps nest here. She describes the composition of the nest in detail, including that ‘there were 4 layers of comb’. She draws a picture to demonstrate how the comb is constructed.

It sounds like Viola found the nest in the ground. Wasps will sometimes create a nest in an old hole created by mice, rabbits etc. She notes that the ‘paper’ on the nest is brown as opposed to grey which she has seen on hanging nests.

Transcript

Nov 6. 1919. In Wasp Nest Field

I saw a white pheasant from fairly

close quarters. It was just like an ordinary

pheasant but white. this one was not pure white

it had a few brown feathers. The others did not

seem to object to its company. Talking of this

field reminds me that about a week ago I

dug out a large bike* There were fully five

hundred wasps in it. They had been reduced

to the crawling stage during the night by

a severe touch of frost. The nest was round

and about 10 ins in diameter. The walls were

lined with several layers of flaky paper of a

brown colour. There were 4 layers of comb. They

were prevented from touching each other by little

pillars of paper about ⅓in high thus:

There was only a short passage

5 or 6 ins long comunicating from the

bike to the open air. The paper was all

of a brown colour unlike the paper of a

hanging bike which is grey

*Wasp nest

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