Tuesday, 15 August 2017

WET, WET AND WET AGAIN

Is there no end to the summer rain and relatively low temperatures? The butterflies and bees have been rarely seen in the last couple of weeks.

Here’s a rare image of a bee making the most of some of one of the flowering sunflowers!


The swifts have seemingly given up on seeing the sun until they return to Europe and beyond, while the swallows are already gathering to leave.

They’re probably thinking twice about spending next summer in the UK if the cooler and damp conditions continue long term.

It seems as if the flora and fauna is already treating the climate as already having entered autumn.

Even the long tailed tits are feeding in the garden, which is highly unusual because they’re only seen from about November to March.

If the food supplies in the wider countryside are diminishing already, it could see some wildlife suffering a bleak winter.

On a sad note it appears the local cats, far too many for the area, are continuing to decimate the wildlife – birds, young rabbits, mice, voles and shrews all falling victim to needless killings.

Previously there’s been barn owls, little owls, foxes, badgers, kestrels and plenty of rabbits around garden and lane, but since all the cats came a few years ago there hasn’t been any seen.

It’s awful when you move to the countryside to experience the peace, quiet and wildlife, only for domestic killers to be swamped by a couple of people, spoiling the wildlife spectacle for everyone else.

On a happier note the blue tit chicks seem to have remained in good numbers, with up to five seen at once in the garden recently.

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Still not many other garden birds coming back, but perhaps that’ll change in the coming weeks – well as long as the cats stay away!
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Saturday, 29 July 2017

WHAT A MISERABLE SUMMER SO FAR

With all this rain it seems like autumn, or more likely, April. However it’s just July, which is meant to be a chance for people and wildlife to enjoy the warm weather before cooler and colder conditions follow in the coming months.

The ducks don’t seem to be enjoying this July weather either, although the snails and slugs appear to be revelling in the conditions.

One thing that has dropped off recently is the visits from birds in the garden. It’s been very noticeable in the last week or so, that very few are seen.

The young magpies are seen, and more often heard, but most other birds have simply vanished.

Of course most will have shepherded their youngsters to less populated areas so the adults can moult; they will soon be back.

The broad beans are already producing a small crop and there’s potential for the tomatoes to start showing small fruit soon too.

One chilli pepper plant has produced a single edible offering, while others are clearly showing signs of soon being able to offer the same.

The rain and cooler weather has meant a lot of wildlife has simply hunkered down, including the crane flies.

While the buddleia has had few visits from the endless butterflies that have been sampling its nectar in recent sunny days.


Perhaps August will see a burst of long-lasting sunshine, warmer conditions and the return of bird song in the garden!

Friday, 14 July 2017

WARMER WEATHER ON THE WAY?

Is the weather playing mind tricks with us? The wet weather over the last few days came after some glorious days with plenty of warmth and sunshine.

The swallows made the most of the warm and dry days, and were often joined by local swifts in the early evening swooping low over the hedges and small trees in and around the garden, feasting on a seemingly endless supply of small insects.

Both groups of birds were calling throughout the feeding frenzy, the swallows with their dance-like tunes, while the swifts shrieked with delight at the abundance of insects lifted above the treeline by the warm air.

It’s possible that the swallows are already on their second brood, and if weather conditions continue then a third might just be squeezed in.

The other birds are infrequently visiting the garden, with the young blue tits being recently spotted again, this time without any parents nearby.

A couple of great tits have also been seen, along with recently fledged robin chicks.

The crane fly hatching continues at a fast pace, although many falling foul of the house and seemingly dying before being able to mate.

One pair was caught mating in the house, so were gently moved outside to continue their rituals in privacy – well as much privacy as outside in the garden can give!

Growth of the garden plants has been good, with the tomatoes and broad beans already flowering and producing a few early fruit, while the sunflowers are all getting taller by the day.

Whatever the rest of July brings, a good harvest of broad beans is hopefully on the cards.

The sunshine did bring out plenty of butterflies – orange tip, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, painted lady and green-veined white.



They were mainly attracted by the buddleia flowers and with both buddleia plants growing rapidly, this summer could be great for seeing the beautiful butterflies in the garden.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

SHIVERING WILDLIFE GETTING A SOAKING

Is it autumn already? The weather has been distinctly autumn-like following the hottest recorded temperatures for June in more than 40 years.

The blue tit chicks have paid occasional visits to the garden in the last couple of weeks, and so far it appears most have survived.

I’ve not seen a bird of prey around for a while, even down the lanes, so perhaps the sparrowhawk and kestrels are focusing elsewhere for the time being.

There’s been no sign of any robin chicks yet, although the adults are still regularly spending time in and around the garden.

Both blackbird parents are in the garden daily and, thanks to the wet weather are often tugging worms out of the soil – winning most of the battles.

There’s still no word on whether the house sparrows are sitting on eggs in the blue tit next box, but they are still hanging around there like they own it.

One noticeable visitor has been the crane fly, well actually hundreds of them. Many of them are coming in the house, which is not the best place considering the amount of spiders knocking about.

However it does mean they avoid the increasing amount of swallows, whose first ‘batch’ of 2017 youngsters.


Will July bring warm and summer-like weather? Let’s hope so.

Monday, 19 June 2017

BIRDS A RARITY IN THE GARDEN

The nest boxes are empty and the garden is virtually free of birds, apart from the odd visit from fledglings and swooping swallows. 
One question that remains unanswered is whether the house sparrows have taken up residence in the blue tit nest box – which fledged eight chicks from eight eggs.
The camera to the nest box isn’t working properly again, so a view inside is proving difficult.
If the female is on eggs then it’ll be hard to tell as they normally are quite still most of the time.
It is likely to be another week before it is known if they are in there.
The garden itself had a good soaking of water for a while, but now it looks like a prolonged dry spell is on the cards, which means the new hosepipe will see some action!
All the plants, tomato, sunflower, broad bean and peppers are now in situ, and growing fast. If they get enough water then the tomatoes can hopefully make up for the poor harvest last year with a bumper one this year.
After all the sunflowers did very well last year and now, thanks to the slugs and snails, they’re likely to be fewer and shorter than 2016.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

IT’S GETTING QUIET IN THE GARDEN

After the blue tits and great tits recently fledged, the garden has become a much quieter place. 
The chicks can sometimes be heard in the trees and bushes nearby, but their begging cries for food from their parent will soon disappear; as they learn how to find their own food and the parents take them further away from the garden area.
In the absence of the tits and their youngsters, the sound of house sparrows and swooping swallows is infrequently heard.
However the house sparrows may become more prominent as a pair of house sparrows has taken interest in the blue tit nest box and nest.
In previous years the house sparrows have nested a couple of times on top of an abandoned tit nest, and it seems this may be happening again – hopefully they won’t block the camera view!
The magpies have also moved away, with their fledglings, although they may well be in the same areas as the young smaller birds – which may result in some of the tits not being able to return to the garden in later summer and autumn.
After the slugs and snails tried to take out the young sunflowers, the survivors are doing ok in the garden.
The tomato plants and the broad beans are also out in the garden, and hopefully will continue to grow in this warm and often wet weather.

There’s be more planting going on in the garden in the coming weeks, so hopefully growing conditions will continue to be favourable – plenty of sun once the plants are able to bear fruit.