Saturday, 14 October 2017

CALM BEFORE THE AUTUMN STORMS

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks in the garden, with the list of garden bird visitors still on the low side.

With most, if not all, of the summer visitors now departed and the winter visitors still to properly land on our shores, there’s little activity going on.

On the insect and invertebrate front it’s quietening down too, with spider numbers and webs decreasing, flies in short supply and only three crane flies seen.

One major difference has been the beautiful colours the climbing plant (still not sure of the variety) has shown through its leaves over the last couple of weeks.

In mid to late September it had a full canopy of green leaves, but within two weeks they had turned to a glowing red colour and now most have simply fallen off.



The ivy is continually growing, but also being kept in check. It’ll provide a good cover for roosting birds in winter and food source almost all year round.

By the end of the month the nest boxes will be inspected, clean and put back up, with the hope that the cameras work and they will be used for winter roosting.

Who knows if they’ll be used again next year, but it won’t be long before we find out.


Until then it’s time to enjoy this warmer weather, ahead of the old Hurricane Ophelia that’s due early next week.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

AUTUMNAL WEATHER SUITS SLUGS AND SNAILS

No Indian Summer this year then! Well unless October produces something that’s not in keeping with the weather this year.

Growth is continuing among the flora, albeit at a reduce rate, while the early autumn blooms of colour in the garden are somewhat bland this year.

The small garden birds are starting to spend a little more time in the garden, although how much time is yet to be determined as many could be hidden away in the trees and bushes.

There is a concern locally that cats are driving wildlife away, and while this can’t be said to be true for the garden birds yet, it’s clearly a worry given the lower numbers seen this year.

However, the slugs and snails in the garden seemingly love the conditions and are regularly seen around the paths, on the patio and sometimes scaling windows and doors.

There have not been as many crane flies this year and, while it’s a tenuous link, the increase in numbers of spiders might be to blame.

In the last couple of weeks a number of large garden spiders have created huge webs around the garden. Unfortunately they’ve been mainly catching humans!


As October swings around the bird counts will be restricted to the weekend, but it’ll be interesting to note the numbers and variety that come along to feast on the different feeders.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

FROM SUMMER TO AUTUMN IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

It seems the weather decided the August Bank Holiday would be the last hurrah of anything connected with summer.

The warm and sunny weather experience over the Bank Holiday was certainly welcomed by many, but in the following weeks it’s been clear to any remaining swallows, swifts, house martins or any other summer visitors that the UK is shutting down for the season.

The local swallows had been swooping around the garden in high numbers, but none have been sighted for at least a week.

The magpies are most definitely around, but that wasn’t the case during a recent visit to Cornwall.

Not once in a week was a single magpie seen, there were however plenty of herring gulls and jackdaws living alongside each other.

The gulls could be responsible for the lack of magpies, while other smaller garden birds seemed to be away from the areas that the gulls operated in.

The weather hasn’t quite pushed the garden birds back into the garden on a regular basis, but in the last few days the blue tits have been spending time every day, foraging and it’s probably not going to be long before the blackbirds, robins, great tits, dunnocks and goldfinches.

In 2016 and 2014, September brought many days of warm sunshine, with 2016 recording the highest temperature of the year!


Will the end of September bring an Indian summer, or will it signal the mass return of the garden birds to feed on the fat feeders?

Sunday, 3 September 2017

A BRIGHTER END TO SUMMER?

It’s not been an ideal summer, weather-wise, but it seems the summer visitors to these shores have benefitted quite well.

The swallows seem to have raised at least two broods, while there have often been swifts filling the skies over the last few weeks.

The latter have now left the area, heading back to Africa for the UK’s autumn and winter, before heading back to these shores next spring.

What’s fascinating is the way these two, seemingly similar, species feed.

This has been particularly noticeable when the youngsters of both species had fledged and were learning to fly and feed.

The swallows swoop around the tress, bushes and houses, often just inches away from the ground or colliding with something solid.

But the swifts were circling at a much higher altitude, obviously after different food and so meaning they can live alongside each other without competing for food, or indeed nest sites.

In the news there appears to be plenty of very large slugs around the garden. And strangely they seem to be spending quite some time out in the open during daylight hours.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any hedgehogs about to help keep the population down

The broad beans have been harvested, and the six plants produced an amazing 42 beans – even with some pods that failed.


The tomatoes are next, and some may well go red if there's a warm interlude of weather.

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!