April 2021 Week Three

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.blue butterflyThe hairy footed flower bees are still out and about. This female was on the flowering currant.black bee on pink flower

While the male was enjoying the aubretia.bee on purple flowerThe dwarf tulips in the planter by the hedgehog feeder survived the frost.purple and yellow tulipsThe Spanish bluebells are starting to flower.

blue flowers

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.bird upside down on fatball feeder

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!lilac flowers

 

 

April 2021 Week Two

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.yellow and blue flowersWhite flowers are appearing on this little tree.white flowers on treeMore white flowers courtesy of the Candy Tuft.white flowersMr 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.blackbirdThe apple blossom is just starting to appear.apple blossom buds

The aubretia is proving popular, especially with the bee flies and their preposterous tongues.bee fly on blue flowers

For balance here is a bee fly bum.bee fly flying away

 

 

 

 

April 2021 Week One

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.lawn with frost and snowHowever, although chilly, the days have mostly been sunny which has brought the insects out. Such as this bumblebee on the quince.bumblebee on red flowerAnd this one on the forget-me-nots.bee on blue flowersA favourite of pollinators, albeit unoccupied when I took the photo, dandelions are popping up everywhere. In this case it is growing among the aubretia.yellow flower surrounded by blue flowersThe lilac flowers are shaping up nicely.lilac flowers starting to openAnd the trees are sprouting green leaves.trees starting to grow green leavesThe dwarf tulip dared to open out. We’ll see if another week of frosts slows the pace any.purple tulip flower

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 2021 Week Four and a Bit

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.bee in a primrose flowerThere was also some sort of solitary bee covered in pollen on the white flowering shrubs.bee on white flower

A male hairy footed flower bee on the flowering currant.bee on pink flowers

The bee-flies have made a welcome return.bee-fly on lawn

A beautiful peacock butterfly also appeared.peacock butterfly

The lesser celandine are blooming on the lawn like a carpet of stars.yellow flower

This will be the last of the cherry plum blossom now that the copper coloured leaves are appearing.pink blossom with brown leaves

Green leaves are also bringing the trees back to life.green leaf shoots on tree

And who doesn’t love a cheerful daisy?daisy flower

The grape hyacinths are a firm favourite with the bee-flies.bee fly on blue flower

 

March 2021 Week Three

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.Photo of hedgehog drinking waterThe dog violets have started to flower. The violet ones are growing up through the cracks in the path.violet flowerThe white violets are growing on the lawn.white violet flowerThis 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.blackbird and robin in cherry treeThe forsythia is a blaze of yellow.yellow flowersAnd if you are feeling blue, the forget-me-nots are starting to flower.blue forget-me-not flowersI know you are eager to see how the lilac buds are progressing. The answer is very well.Lilac buds openingAs 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).small brown bird

 

 

March 2021 Week Two

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.daisy flower on lawn

The quince is in full swing.red blossoms growing up a wall

The lilac buds are teasing us.purple buds

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.robin in cherry tree

The cherry plum blossoms seem pretty resiliant, I’m surprised they haven’t all blown off.pink blossoms

The queen bumblebees also seem burly enough to brave the gales. There was no shortage of fluffy bee butts on the Mahonia.bumblebee on yellow flowers

The flowering currant is currently about to flower so I expect lots of bees on it next week.purple flower

March 2021 Week One

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.bee in yellow flowers

A late riser was this buff tailed bumblebee queen, she was bumbling around after all the other bees had left.bumblebee in yellow flowers

The warm sunshine and clear blue sky brought the buzzards soaring high above.buzzard against blue sky

The first cherry plum blossom blossomed.pale pink blossom

The lilac bud gave a hint of colour to come. The flower is coiled up inside waiting for spring to spring.purple flower inside green bud

The birds are busy attracting mates and gathering nest building material. This little sparrow was chirruping away in the cherry tree.sparrow in cherry tree

The first grape hyacinth has flowered, soon they’ll be attracting the bee flies.blue flower

February 2021 Week Four

The wet and windy weather of the previous week gave way to some clear chilly nights and a few gloriously sunny days. This brought the bees back to the mahonia flowers.bee on yellow flower

The snowdrops finally got around to opening up.snowdrops

More crocuses sprang up over the lawn, in the cracks of the paths and some are even growing on the garden. Although these crocuses of hope are now looking a little battered.purple crocus flowers

A few more primroses appeared.yellow primrose flowers

This hoverfly poked its tongue out at me.hoverfly drinking nectar from white flower

Queen bumblebees are starting to wake up, I think this is a tree bumblebee. She has a white bottom but no yellow stripes.bumblebee on yellow flower

The daffodils are flowering just in time for St David’s Day on 1st March.yellow daffodil flowers

February 2021 Week Three

The third week of February was milder, but wetter and windier.raindrops falling in a puddle

The crocuses opened up again during the rare appearance by the sun. They now lie battered and sodden.purple flowers with orange centres

The snowdrops fared well, though they are still reticent to open up. This one was brave though.white snowdrop flower

The holly leaved hellebore also managed to shake off the rain.green flowers

The single primrose flowering has so far survived the downpours.pale yellow primrose with raindrops

I was fortunate enough to manage to get a photograph of one of the long tailed tits on the fatball feeder.long tailed tit bird on fatball feeder

The lilac buds are developing nicely.lilac buds

February 2021 Week Two

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.snow around dead leavesIt 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.disc of ice held to the skyThe 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.pigeon on birdbathAfter 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.black white and red woodpecker on fatball feederThe 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.red buds on treeAnd the flowering currant in bud also.green leaves in bud

 

 

 

February 2021 Week One

February 1st was the festival of Imbolc, marking halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and there are signs that spring is on the way. The quince is starting to blossom.red quince blossoms

The first primrose has flowered.pale yellow primrose flower with raindrops

We are still in winter though and the birds need a hearty breakfast, like this blue tit enjoying the fat balls.blue tit on fatball feeder

Our favourite winter bird the robin is also bobbing around, in fact there are two of them getting cosy together.robin sitting on a branch

During some sunshine the Mahonia attracted several bees.Yellow blossom with a bee

Another sunny day saw the crocuses opening up.Purple crocus flower

As the first week of February ends much of the UK is under an Amber warning for snow. Here in Hereford we just have a few small flakes blowing in the wind.Snowy cloudy sky

Big Garden Bird Watch 2021

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.pie chart of top ten birdsOur 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.flock of pigeons on bird table

We seem to have a glut of blue tits, the shrubs are alive with their chitterings.Photo of blue tit

The ever dependable blackbirds put in a strong appearance.Photo of male blackbird

A few years ago we had no jackdaws, but they have now beaten the magpies for corvid supremacy.two jackdaws sitting in tree

The jackdaws have not driven away our squirrel bothering magpies though.Photo of magpie

Bringing up the rear we have the wood pigeons. I do find their coos very soothing.Photo of woodpigeon

The surprisingly feisty collared doves.photo of collared dove

The great tits seem to be waning.Photo of great tit

The long tailed tits have yet to gather in large numbers.long tailed tit with yellow blossoms

We have a lovely pair of robins.Photo of two 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.Photo of black cap

The greater spotted woodpecker has been busy pecking at the trees.woodpecker on feeder

A poor showing for the little brown jobbies, only one wren, dunnock and sparrow spotted.photo of dunnock

 

January 2021 Week 4 (and a bit)

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.snowdrop budsWe have had more rain than snow and the crocuses look as though they might overtake the snowdrops.crocus buds with water dropletsAlthough we did have a brief flurry of snow to prettify the garden.snowy garden

There was barely any left by the next day, but enough to see that the pigeons had left their mark.bird print in snowThe 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.small bird in treeThe moon was being its usual dramatic self with some dawn clouds.moon clouds at dawnThere appeared to be a wood pigeon meeting on the neighbour’s chimney, it looked important.3 wood pigeons on chimneyAgainst drab leaden skies a blue tit gets photobombed.bird flying past bird in treeJanuary ends with a fiery display at dawn, a promise of bad weather to come.fiery sunrise

January 2021 Week Three

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.squirrel on nut feeder

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.Leafless trees in blue light

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.red berries against green laurel leaves

More popular, especially with the blackbirds, are the ivy berries.black ivy berries

Some unpruned rose hips.red rose hip

Some hips are bigger than others.orange rose hips

The lilac tree is starting to bud.Lilac tree bud

January 2021 Week Two

The second week of January was a grey and damp affair. However, the long tailed tits have returned. Can you spot one in the tree?

long tailed tit in bare trees

Speaking of tails, Henry our neighbour’s tailess cat, took the higher ground in a face off with another cat. The situation did not progress into anything more exciting.

Black cat sitting on shed roof

We did have a pretty sunrise one morning. Sadly, as with the sunsets, the best of the view is blocked by houses.

sunrise through trees

The grey squirrels are getting frisky. There were five of them chasing each other up and down the trees. This one paused to have a wash.

squirrel in tree washing

The snowdrops are through the ground and will be flowering soon.

snowdrop shoots

After the rain the drop dripping off the birch catkin is a golden yellow, like syrup.

yellow drip on catkin

For a brief moment on day 14 the leaden skies brightened and some blue sky was glimpsed.

white clouds and blue sky

January 2021 Week 1

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.

looking through ice

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.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2021.

Coronavirus Garden Safari

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.photo of tawny owl in tree

Also hedgehogs. Why not make a hedgehog feeder, create a gap in your fence and hope for some prickly visitors.hedgehog on lawn

Maybe even a bat or two.2 bats

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. Photo of buddleia over underpass

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.path through sand dunes

Credenhill Park Wood Reopened

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.Hill covered in autumnal trees

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.photo of undulating grassland surrounded by trees

Kingfisher with Minnow Sculpture

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.Photo of kingfisher sculpture

It was commissioned by the Cider Museum and stands between the museum and Sainsburys’ fuel station.Photo of kingfisher sculpture

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.Photo of kingfisher sculpture

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.Photo of kingfisher sculptureI have to say that it is easier to spot and photograph than the real thing.Photo of kingfisher sculptureI think the graceful silhouette of his 50 year old woodpecker are hard to beat. Which do you prefer?Photo of Plaque for kingfisher sculpture

Big Butterfly Count 2019

There is still time to participate in one of the largest citizen science projects, the Big Butterfly Count 2019. You can log your butterfly sightings until 11th August, full details on the website.

Most of the usual suspects were present in the garden. There were at least four large white butterflies. New to my list was a gatekeeper, but I didn’t manage to get a photograph.photo of white butterfly on ivy

Holly blues.Photo of holly blue butterfly

Red admirals.Photo of red admiral butterfly

A peacock.Photo of peacock butterfly

Commas.Photo of comma butterfly

Speckled wood.Photo of speckled wood butterfly

As well as nectar rich flowers for the butterflies it is also important to have the larval foodplants. You can find lots of good advice here.