July 2021 – Week Three

So the UK weather lurched from cold and damp to swelteringly hot and tinder dry. The hot weather triggered flying ants. These are fertile ants that fly from the nest to mate and start new colonies. The males die after mating. The female lands, chews off her wings and starts afresh.flying ant

A more appealing insect was this comma butterfly.speckled butterfly

A bee on the honeysuckle.bee on honeysuckle flowers

The other, more colourful, honeysuckle is now flowering.purple and white honeysuckle flowers

As are the sweetpeas.pink flowers

Dad blackbird was stretching out in the blazing sun looking very uncomfortable. I read that birds do this to kill off parasites and to spread their preening oil, but I have only ever noticed blackbirds doing this.blackbird stretched out in the sun

Meanwhile his offspring continue to perfect their mahonia berry snatching techniques. First eye up the target.blackbird looking at berries

Then enjoy the fruits of your labour.blackbird eating blue berry

Astronomical Spring

It was astronomical spring, the vernal equinox, on 20th March 2018. For a brief period it did start to seem spring-like once the Beast from the East had left us, although being the UK obviously it rained. photo of cherry plum blossom and blue sky

The cherry plum buds blossomed.photo of pink cherry plum blossom

One of the local crows decided they were a tasty snack.Photo of crow eating cherry blossoms

The daffodils bounced back.Photo of yellow daffodils with rain drops

The primroses have mostly been eaten, I think by slugs, but I managed to snap one.Photo of yellow primrose with rain drops

The sunshine and the mahonia blossoms brought out the bees. There was a large buff-tailed queen bumblebee but she was too busy to pose for photos. The male hairy footed flower bee was more accommodating. Check out those hairy feet!Photo of hairy footed flower bee

I was very happy to see that he was joined by a female. She has black hairs and doesn’t have the fancy moustache. She also moves too fast for my camera!photo of female hairy footed flower bee

There was also a honey bee.Photo of honey bee on mahonia

And then with two days of winter left to go, the Mini Beast from the East arrived. Can you spot the two robins? One is sitting in the apple tree, the other is on the ground.Photo of apple tree in the snow

Extra sultana rations were provided for the blackbirds. The snow didn’t last long enough to bring the fieldfares back.

The poor hedgehog was too hungry to hibernate again and left some interesting tracks in the snow between the hoghouse and the feeding station. They walk low to the ground so their skirt of prickles ploughs the snow up either side of their footprints.

My Big Garden Birdwatch Results 2017

As I mentioned in my post #BigGardenBirdwatch 2017, the world’s biggest wildlife survey took place at the weekend in the UK. You can find out more at the RSPB website.Photo of blue tit

Although we were allowed three days to choose from, the weather Saturday through to Monday was pretty much non-stop rain. This seems to deter a lot of birds from visiting feeders. I was particularly annoyed that the great spotted woodpecker didn’t show up. Other notable absences included long tailed tits, coal tit, dunnock, wren, sparrowhawk, crows and jackdaw; I know they are lurking around somewhere in the garden! Also my chaffinch count was considerably down from a couple of weeks ago.Photo of great spotted woodpecker

However, I was highly delighted by the well timed arrival of an old favourite that I have not seen in the garden for many years; the song thrush. This is another British bird that has suffered greatly from habitat loss due to changes in farming. This shows how important our gardens are for birds. I wasn’t able to get a decent photo of it, indeed most of my photos of wet birds on a dark day were terrible!

Illustration of Song Thrush

Song Thrush by en:John Gould, Birds of Great Britain, 1862-73 – Via Wikimedia Commons

The blackbirds put in a good show, as usual.Photo of blackbirds

There was a robin.Photo of robin

Indeed there were two robins.Photo of two robins

One of the woodpigeons bumbled along.Photo of woodpigeon

Yet again Mrs Fancypants-Squirrel tried to get in on the action, but she was fooling no one.Photo of wet squirrel

Later on that night, one of our hedgehogs woke from hibernation for a snack.Photo of hedgehog

Here are my results:

4 sparrows, 2 blue tits, 1 wood pigeon, 2 robins, 1 great tit, 9 blackbirds, 3 collared doves, 2 starlings, 3 chaffinches, 2 black caps, 9 feral/rock pigeons, 2 magpies and a song thrush. The RSPB provided a chart of my top 10.Chart of top 10 bird sightings

And compared it to the national average based on results so far. Chart of national bird watch results



Garden Birds

Being lazy I decided to let the wildlife camera take the photos for me. Here are some birds that visited the garden. First of all, a female blackbird.Photo of female blackbird

Male blackbird.Photo of male blackbird

Robin.Photo of robin

Female chaffinch.Photo of female chaffinch

Magpie.Photo of magpie

Blue tit.Photo of blue tit

Great spotted woodpecker.Photo of great spotted woodpecker

Oh hello …. what a surprise! Mrs Fancypants-Tail and “friend” dropped by.Photo of squirrels

Blackberry and Apple

You all remember my funny shaped apple tree don’t you?Photo of apple tree in blossom

Well next to it I have a small bramble patch. This produces the most delicious blackberries which can be eaten off the bramble or combined with apples in a variety of tasty dishes. A better cook than me has some recipes on this site here.Photo of blackberries

Oh, but what is this? A blackberry thief! Doesn’t this blackbird look mighty proud of his daylight robbery?Photo of blackbird with blackberry

I can’t be too cross though, he fed it to his youngster. If you have thirty seconds to spare you can watch my YouTube video of him feeding this blackberry and later some wild bird seed to his spotty fledgling here. Photo of young blackbird

Male blackbirds seem to be very attentive fathers.  I think this young one will do well.Photo of male blackbird and young

Some other youngsters were out foraging under the apple tree this evening. Here are two of the three young hedgehogs that are currently snuffling around the garden.Photo of young hedgehogs

A dish of water and some food tempted some other garden visitors too.

You might also like: Blackbirds and Father’s Day, and Bramble Buzzers.


Gardener’s Little Helper

The moon was up bright and early, unlike some folk.moon-170416-a

I needed to crack on and give the lawn a haircut. As I let the grass grow long and the lawn is full of other leafy plants and flowers, it harbours a lot of insects. This female blackbird came running over at the sound of the mower starting and ran around me the whole time, no doubt catching the disturbed insects. A robin also flitted in and out.Photo of blackbird

Later as I sat and watched the blackbird I noticed that she wasn’t eating the wriggly stuff she was catching, but stashing it in her beak. I can only presume that she has hatched chicks already. Photo of blackbird

The female blackbirds are brown and dowdy compared to the dashing male blackbirds that I mentioned previously in these posts here and here. However, this intrepid lady seems to have a sassy blue sheen to her tail and flight feathers.Photo of blackbird

“Excuse me! You’ve left a pile of grass cuttings in my way!”Photo of blackbird

Anyway, we had both finished our evening’s work as the sun was starting to set. The sunset itself was unremarkable this evening, but it still cast a fiery glow on the silver birch trees and even gave the moon a rosy tint.Photo of birch trees and moon at sunset