The third week of April continued the theme of cold nights and dry sunny days. There are plenty of spring blooms out in the garden to attract the bees and butterflies. I believe this is a Holly Blue butterfly, now more common than the Common Blue.The hairy footed flower bees are still out and about. This female was on the flowering currant.
While the male was enjoying the aubretia.The dwarf tulips in the planter by the hedgehog feeder survived the frost.The Spanish bluebells are starting to flower.
The trees and shrubs are ringing out with the sounds of various birds. While on the fatball feeder this great tit was looking at the world from a new perspective.
The lilac flowers are nearly fully blooming, do you think they will be out before the end of April? Tune in next week to find out!
The second week of April has seen a continuation of the below average temperatures. The nights are often frosty but the days have mostly been sunny. The dandelions and forget-me-nots growing in the path provide an all day buffet for the pollinating insects.White flowers are appearing on this little tree.More white flowers courtesy of the Candy Tuft.Mr and Mrs Blackbird seem to have stopped gathering nesting materials, I presume they are now sitting on some eggs. Here is Mr BB waiting for some more sultanas.The apple blossom is just starting to appear.
The aubretia is proving popular, especially with the bee flies and their preposterous tongues.
After the mini heatwave at the end of March, April begain with an arctic blast. We even had a light dusting of snow as well as some frosty mornings.However, although chilly, the days have mostly been sunny which has brought the insects out. Such as this bumblebee on the quince.And this one on the forget-me-nots.A favourite of pollinators, albeit unoccupied when I took the photo, dandelions are popping up everywhere. In this case it is growing among the aubretia.The lilac flowers are shaping up nicely.And the trees are sprouting green leaves.The dwarf tulip dared to open out. We’ll see if another week of frosts slows the pace any.
The final week of March saw a mini heatwave, with the hottest March day for 53 years. This warm sunny weather brought lots of insects to the garden, such as this bee tucking into a primrose.There was also some sort of solitary bee covered in pollen on the white flowering shrubs.
A male hairy footed flower bee on the flowering currant.
The bee-flies have made a welcome return.
A beautiful peacock butterfly also appeared.
The lesser celandine are blooming on the lawn like a carpet of stars.
This will be the last of the cherry plum blossom now that the copper coloured leaves are appearing.
Green leaves are also bringing the trees back to life.
And who doesn’t love a cheerful daisy?
The grape hyacinths are a firm favourite with the bee-flies.
This post is a little late as I have been without a functioning phone line for a week. In my absence WordPress has made it more difficult to use the Classic Editor, yet again. The solution for now is to go to account settings – dashboard appearance – enable show advanced dashboard pages. On a happier note, one of the hedgehogs has woken from hibernation and found the fresh water and cat biscuits.The dog violets have started to flower. The violet ones are growing up through the cracks in the path.The white violets are growing on the lawn.This week the cherry plum tree is occupied by a blackbird and a robin. The blackbirds have been very busy collecting nesting material, I think they are creating a superstructure in the shrubbery.The forsythia is a blaze of yellow.And if you are feeling blue, the forget-me-nots are starting to flower.I know you are eager to see how the lilac buds are progressing. The answer is very well.As this post is so late you can have a bonus wren, mainly because I’m so pleased to have got a photo of one, even if it isn’t a very good one (photo that is, I’m sure the wren is very well behaved).
Please do not adjust your eyesight; most of my photos this week are even more blurry than usual due to the incessant high winds we have had. Between the showers the first lawn daisy raised its face to the sun.
The quince is in full swing.
The lilac buds are teasing us.
Can you spot the robin in the cherry plum tree. The birds are singing their little hearts out at the moment, attracting mates and warning off rivals. Never has “You’re going home in a private ambulance” sounded so sweet.
The cherry plum blossoms seem pretty resiliant, I’m surprised they haven’t all blown off.
The queen bumblebees also seem burly enough to brave the gales. There was no shortage of fluffy bee butts on the Mahonia.
The flowering currant is currently about to flower so I expect lots of bees on it next week.
The first week of March has seen some mixed weather; icy nights, biting winds, rain and glorious sunshine. The Mahonia continues to attract pollinators, including this hyperactive hairy footed flower bee. Sadly this bleached out affair was the best photo I got of him.
A late riser was this buff tailed bumblebee queen, she was bumbling around after all the other bees had left.
The warm sunshine and clear blue sky brought the buzzards soaring high above.
The first cherry plum blossom blossomed.
The lilac bud gave a hint of colour to come. The flower is coiled up inside waiting for spring to spring.
The birds are busy attracting mates and gathering nest building material. This little sparrow was chirruping away in the cherry tree.
The first grape hyacinth has flowered, soon they’ll be attracting the bee flies.
Most of the UK enjoyed (depending on your point of view) heavy snowfall in the second week of February. Here in Hereford it was just very cold. There were a few dark corners where some snow accumulated, not enough for a decent socially distanced snowball fight though.It was a battle to keep the birds’ water unfrozen and a few trips during the night were needed to keep the smaller ground dishes free from ice for any passing mammals. There is always a pathetic sense of achievement when a perfect disc of ice is removed from the bowl.The birds seem to enjoy having a warm bath in the morning. This lone pigeon preferred some privacy and waited for the rest of the flock to leave before seeing to their ablutions.After spotting the great spotted woodpecker drumming high up in a tree obscured by branches last week, I was lucky enough to catch him on the fatball feeder.The snowdrops remain tight lipped, apart from a single double, or is it even triple, flowered one.
More signs that spring is on the way include the cherry plum blossom starting to bud.And the flowering currant in bud also.
The last weekend of January was the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. Once you’ve submitted your results you get a fancy pie chart of your top ten birds.Our garden is well visited by feral pigeons, or rock doves to give them a fancier name. They only visit briefly in the morning to breakfast on the bird table.
We seem to have a glut of blue tits, the shrubs are alive with their chitterings.
The ever dependable blackbirds put in a strong appearance.
A few years ago we had no jackdaws, but they have now beaten the magpies for corvid supremacy.
The jackdaws have not driven away our squirrel bothering magpies though.
Bringing up the rear we have the wood pigeons. I do find their coos very soothing.
The surprisingly feisty collared doves.
The great tits seem to be waning.
The long tailed tits have yet to gather in large numbers.
We have a lovely pair of robins.
Off the chart as they are in single figures we have a male black cap. There are a couple of females around also, but I didn’t see them over the weekend.
The greater spotted woodpecker has been busy pecking at the trees.
A poor showing for the little brown jobbies, only one wren, dunnock and sparrow spotted.
So we have made it to the end of the first month of 2021. The snowdrops are still in bud, folded up ready to droop elegantly when the time is right.We have had more rain than snow and the crocuses look as though they might overtake the snowdrops.Although we did have a brief flurry of snow to prettify the garden.
There was barely any left by the next day, but enough to see that the pigeons had left their mark.The holly leaved hellbore is now flowering, beating both the snowdrops and the crocuses.
It was interesting to see the black cap featured on BBC Winterwatch drinking nectar from the mahonia flowers. There is a male black cap that does the same thing in our garden. However, as soon as he sees me with the camera he hides in the nearby cherry tree.The moon was being its usual dramatic self with some dawn clouds.There appeared to be a wood pigeon meeting on the neighbour’s chimney, it looked important.Against drab leaden skies a blue tit gets photobombed.January ends with a fiery display at dawn, a promise of bad weather to come.
Week three of the new year has been a pretty soggy affair. There was some flooding in Herefordshire, but not as severe as elsewhere, a dusting of snow and some frost and even some glimpses of sunshine. The squirrels are very pleased to have their own supply of nuts.
It must be pretty draughty for the birds and squirrels with the lack of leaves on the trees. The nekkid trees do look lissome in the blue light of dawn.
There are still a few winter berries to be found adding a splash of colour to the garden. Laurel berries are toxic to humans, but the birds don’t seem keen to eat them either.
More popular, especially with the blackbirds, are the ivy berries.
We seem destined to live in interesting times for another year, so the challenge is to try to find something interesting in the mundane. Here in the UK we start 2021 in another lockdown in an attempt to control the Covid-19 pandemic and prevent our NHS from being overwhelmed. I count myself extremely fortunate to have a garden. 2021 began in icy fashion and this is the view through the ice removed from the bird bath.
The rest of the week consisted of a few frosts, some snow that didn’t stick, fog, beautiful moonlit nights and a variety of birds grateful for the fresh water and topped up feeders. On some devices you may need to scroll across to see all 6 photos.
As the UK ends the second week of lockdown in an attempt to limit the spread of the coranavirus, Covid-19, I count myself fortunate to have a garden. Spring has sprung and the increased warmth from the sun has induced flowers to open and insects to wake. Beautiful butterflies such as this peacock can be found sunning themselves.
Fluffy bee-flies with their improbably long proboscises are buzzing around.
The fabulously named hairy footed flower bees are flower bothering.
Bees are getting busy.
The birds too are busy building their nests, take care when trimming hedges. This pair of jackdaws have no need to keep to the 2m social distancing rules.
The blackbirds are stocking up on supplemental food such as the cat biscuits left over from the hedgehogs’ supper.
Fresh water is important for all of our garden wildlife such as birds and squirrels. A shallow dish on the ground for hedgehogs.
For the night owls there are owls.
Also hedgehogs. Why not make a hedgehog feeder, create a gap in your fence and hope for some prickly visitors.
Maybe even a bat or two.
Try to look out for flowers and wildlife in your garden or on your daily walk. Use the lockdown as an opportunity to learn new skills, stay in touch with loved ones, reconnect with old friends.
For more information on Covid-19 visit the NHS website. Stay home, keep 2m apart when out, wash your hands; these measures will hopefully protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, and protect vulnerable people from a killer disease. If you are one of those strange people who doesn’t care about the old and the sick dying don’t forget this kills young healthy people too, including valuable NHS workers. Let’s hope our new found admiration for “low skilled” low paid workers such as carers, shop workers and delivery drivers lasts. Take care of yourselves and others. With kindness and cooperation we will get through this.
Credenhill Park Wood was closed to the public in September 2018 to carry out woodland management work. This involved thinning out conifer trees to allow more light in for deciduous trees and woodland plants. The wood is now open again and starting to look autumnal. I was just passing and haven’t explored its new look properly yet.
Previously conifers had been cleared to form a “grazing area” at the top of the iron age hill fort, exposing the mounds of the ramparts.
Regular readers will be familiar with my photographs of the Bulmers Woodpecker sculpture captured in a variety of different weather situations.
Fifty years since creating this iconic Herefordshire artwork sculptor Walenty Pytel has graced our landscape with a new piece; Kingfisher with Minnow.
It was commissioned by the Cider Museum and stands between the museum and Sainsburys’ fuel station.
Walenty Pytel was born in Poland in 1941 and moved to the UK at the age of five. He studied graphic design at Hereford College of Arts and has become a renowned artist specialising in metal sculptures inspired by nature. You can see more of his work here.
Bulmers commissioned The Woodpecker to celebrate their eponymous brand of cider, presumably the Kingfisher is a nod to the cider apple orchards that grow alongside the River Wye where kingfishers reside.I have to say that it is easier to spot and photograph than the real thing.I think the graceful silhouette of his 50 year old woodpecker are hard to beat. Which do you prefer?