My Patch – September 2018

September 5th – I spotted a common frog in the garden tonight but didn’t manage to get a photo.  House martin’s and some unidentified geese flew over the field.

September 7th – there were rabbit’s in the field this morning.  It is so rare I actually see them that it is so nice when I do. 

September 10th – all of the hedgerows are being cut back as the ditches are being cleared and piping put in ready for the winter.  It looks very bare where everything is being removed 🙁

September 13th – this evening there was a common wasp on the ivy flowers at the front of the house.  Its lovely to see them using the ivy, I have made sure that no one has cut it back!   

September 16th – finally a picture of the common frog who has been using the back garden.  I must start wandering around in the garden after dark more… I found a brown snail eating the blackberries I had relocated for the birds, who have unfortunately ignored them.  At least someone was making the most of them! 

September 17th – I took a walk into the field this evening to look at the hedgerow and the ditch that they have dug out.  What I wasn’t expecting to find was quite so much rubbish!  There are loads of plastic bags, traffic cone parts, bits of metal fencing etc I will have to start to pick it all up before the field is planted again! I don’t think the contractor who dug the ditch is coming back to do it!  The rabbits still have burrows, though, I think they would have had to dug themselves out as their original entrance holes were mainly covered over.  When I reached the copse a roe deer appeared from around the corner.  I didn’t take a ‘proper’ camera with me as I was only going to look at the hedge!  At sunset about 40 geese flew over in 3 separate batches.

Tonight I heard a tawny twooing – I have now signed up for the BTO’s ‘tawny owl calling survey’.  All you have to do is listen once a week between September 30th and March 31st for 20 minutes  a week and record if you hear a tawny or not. You don’t have to listen every week if you don’t have the time, but a minimum of six records is recommended – you don’t even have to leave your house if you don’t want to, you can listen with a window open! Check out more information and how to sign up HERE 

September 20th – this evening there were martins swirling in the wind over the garden, it makes me happy and sad at the same time knowing that they will be leaving us soon.

September 23rd – this evening there was a common toad in the garden, I think it lives under the step to the back door.

September 27th – it is starting to feel more like Autumn, there was a mist over the field this morning.  This afternoon I found a rove beetle near the bird feeders. 

My Patch – A Garden update: August & September

August

I like how the garden looks in summer but the amount of patio is starting disturb me!  There just seems to be so much of it which is not covered in greenery! Seeing this is only one half of the garden and the other half is all patio I find it even more disturbing! 

I was hoping by the end of August the patio will have been concreted – since it was cleaned there are now huge gaps in between the slabs that concern me, they are more than big enough for a hedgehogs leg to fall down!  However I have only managed to complete half of it  and unfortunately I don’t think the rest of it will be done this year!  

I have found some of the taller plants have needed to be staked up this month as they have been falling over onto the shorter ones.  The method I have used this time is to just put a cane at the back of the plant and use some twine to wrap around the plant to hold it up.  I might have to look for a better method for next year.  I have removed some of the leafy weeds that have been taking over the garden, I don’t have any idea what they are but they have gone as they just seem to be smothering everything else! 

August 1st – a small purple flower has been teasing me all summer, its either a bud or a seed head and its taken me ages to figure out what it is…well I think I know what it is… a perennial flax.

August 8th – I sometimes get a small helper in the garden!  He sits there looking grumpy until he gets cuddles and then thinks its helpful to use the raised bed as his bathroom facilities!! There’s a field behind that fence – why can’t he use that!!! 

August 14th – I have been around the garden this evening and deadheaded the roses.  I keep forgetting to do them so tonight they have all been cared for.  I have also been collecting some seeds from the plants that have been going over. 

August 21st – I’m rather pleased with the tomatoes, I have never grown them before and there seems to be loads of fruit forming on them 🙂

 

August 27th – I have been gifted a couple of lavender plants, they will have to live in pots as there isn’t really any where for them to go in the garden but at least the pollinators will appreciate them when they have grown a bit bigger.

August 29th – I had to cut back some of the jasmine tonight.  It was on the list of things to do but the task had to be brought forward as the brother of my friend decided he didn’t like it dropping water on his head and took a chainsaw to it!  I was going to cut it back so that it would have the best chance at flowering again next year but I don’t really know how it is going to do now 🙁

August 31st – I ordered a compost bin so I can make the most of the ‘waste’ from the garden 🙂

September

September 2nd – Last month I sowed some Sweet Williams and they have sprouted 🙂 

September 10th – I cut back some more of the Jasmine, half of it has now gone! 

September 12th –  I trimmed back the hedge at the front of the garden and collected up the fallen blackberries for the birds.  I removed most of the brambles from the front garden as they were running very wild and tangling themselves around everything, they were newly established so thought it was best to get them removed before they took over entirely! The ivy has started to flower 🙂

September 17th – I’ve had to pulled up a few of the leafy ‘weeds’ as they seem to have taken over again!  I really hope they aren’t so much of a problem next year! Also I have had to relocate some of the daffodil bulbs as a certain four legged creature has broken the pot they were in and dug them up! He wasn’t admitting responsibility!  

September 20th – I have been tidying up the jasmine by pulling out the wilting vines which we cut off the other week.  It still needs to be reduced and weaved into the arch way to make more of a feature out of it.  It has become obvious as it has been cut back that it has been winding its way into the cables for the house which has made it a little more difficult to deal with. It has however started to sprout at the base again so I am hoping that the new growth can be weaved into the trellis on the wall and then managed as it grows so it doesn’t become unmanageable again.     

September 27th – The jasmine was finally fully cut back tonight, I feel awful for it!  I just hope it does okay over winter and bounces back next year.

My Patch – August 2018

August 1st – The buzzard was back on the bale of straw tonight, it looks like it could be a juvenile to me.  

August 2nd – This evening there were 3 mint moths on the mint, so I’m really glad that it has been left to go to seed.  They were also joined by a mother-of-pearl month.  

August 8th – the great spotted woodpecker is still feeding on the nuts! He’s the main bird I see at the moment as he seems to be slightly braver than the other birds and will still feed if I’m in the garden as long as I’m not moving about too much. 

August 9th – I haven’t seen the rabbits in the field since March when I saw them running about in the snow. This morning they were running about near their burrows.  This afternoon I also found a 22-spot ladybird, I’ve never found one before! 

August 13th – One of the hedges has been cut! There isn’t a lot I can do about it as a local farmer is contracted to trim them but really! don’t they know they shouldn’t be doing that until at least September 🙁 There were fledgling goldfinches in the garden tonight, they were making one hell of a racket. I think the parents were trying to get them to feed for themselves. I wonder if they had been displaced from the hedgerows? I also found a buff-tip moth caterpillar, it took me by surprise as it was on the edge of the arm of one of the chairs. 

August 15th – I thought I saw a frog in the garden the other day but wasn’t convinced as it was small and mud coloured, it hopped but I only saw it out of the corner of my eye and it could have been a cricket. Today I saw it again, it was about an inch long, it saw me and leapt under the fence and into the field. 

August 22nd – This afternoon I found a badger in the ditch, I seems it was hit over the weekend and someone had moved it.  We moved her round into the field so any other creature wanting to feed on her wouldn’t be hit too.  The entrance to the field is where there are regular animal crossings. It’s on a slight bend and people just don’t slow down at all, they also seem to drive in the middle of the road so if another car is coming they have to swerve!  You would think if you were a regular driver of the road you would have more sense, but I guess not! 

August 23rd – tonight I took a walk down to the river, there wasn’t much activity.  There was litter floating downstream, sadly this is a regular occurrence each time I visit but the water is too deep for me to do anything about it.  The rabbits are still digging their burrows in the walkways around the field so I walked back along the track as I knew I wouldn’t be able to see them walking back across the field.  I can generally only see them when I walk into the field, in the other direction they are more camouflaged!  I spotted some of the culprits on my way back!

August 24th – One of the cats left a dead rat in the front garden of the house today!  At least we know the rats are still about… there is a barn a little further down the road and we think they catch them there, or next door have chickens so its a possibility they are in their garden too.  I do however think if they catch them they should eat them, not just leave them on the floor!

August 31st – tonight I found lots of caterpillars on the rose bush, after a little investigation I have discovered they are large rose sawfly.  All the gardening websites tell you how to get rid of them but these are happily munching away in the garden!  

My Patch – July 2018

I have been trying to catch up on writing some of my blog posts, which is why I am posting July in January!! After summer I have been rather rubbish at posting anything; partly because I have lots of images where I need to identify the insects or flowers and its taken longer than anticipated.  I end up with a list of ‘blogs to write’ and then feel like events occurred too long ago to write about them. I do however feel that they are all part of a story I’ve been telling on here so have been doing my best to start catching up….

My first trip out into the patch in July was the 9th – I wasn’t out there very long; I got bitten by a horsefly on the inside of my wrist.  I saw it and tried to flick it off but it didn’t move, I had to try and brush it off again, finally it went.  Now I had a few bites the other week that turned into great big red patches so I thought it best to go and put some bite lotion on it.  I have to say it didn’t help, this bite came up in blisters and half my forearm swelled up!  I was wearing Boots sun cream that has insect repellent in it, either I hadn’t covered that spot or it doesn’t work too well with horseflies!  I asked on Twitter for some suggestions to keep them away and two options that came back were, Avon Skin so soft and Jungle formula.  I’ll have to give each a try to see which one works the best for me.

While I was out in the field I heard roe deer in the copse; well that was until a walker spooked them with their yappy dog that didn’t seem to follow commands!  All I could hear after that was a high pitched dog whistle that wasn’t going to help me see anything!  Why do people have to be so noisy?!  There were numerous butterflies on the what I believe to be bristly oxtongue and also ox-eye daisies.  I am rubbish at identifying the ‘white’ butterflies, once I have seen them all in the flesh and I ‘know’ which is which I will be more confident but at the moment I’m still not sure.  They were quite difficult to photograph as they were continually flitting around not sitting still for a second.  There was a very small dark butterfly that I couldn’t identify, its what I was trying to follow when I got bitten!  I still have no idea what it was, I hope I can get back out there one evening to have another look for it. 

I was tending the 12 tomato plants and noticed a leaf cutter bee buzzing around my head, I moved away and watched from the other side of the garden as I was unsure of where it was going.  It carried a piece of leaf into a tray of soil and went into a burrow.  I managed to get a very bad picture of it.   The tray now has a label on it saying it shouldn’t be disturbed as there is a potential nest in there 🙂 

July 16th – tonight there were 6 swallows feeding over the field. 

July 18th – I was surprised by all the corvids that flew over the field tonight to roost – there must have been about 70 of them.  I couldn’t clearly identify them as I was looking into the setting sun but I would make a guess at mainly rooks and carrion crows.

July 19th – I was pottering in the garden tonight when I spotted the starlings were collecting on the telephone line. I like to think it’s a family photo of all the starlings that have fledged in the garden this year! 

July 20th – The farmer has made the first test cut of the oil-seed rape in the field.  Its great because there is now a clear path to walk around the field, not so great at the loss of all the field chamomile and bristly oxtongue that were in flower 🙁

July  23rd – the crop was cut today. 

July 24th – I didn’t know there was a wren nest in the Jasmine but today a fledgling wren was perched on the archway while I was watering. I took a quick photo and moved to the other side of the garden to stay out of its way. There was a parent nearby shouting at me!

July 25th – approx 30 swallows flew over and I discovered 104 large white caterpillars on one of the plants in the garden – I think it’s a false London rocket but I’m not 100% sure. I left them all where they were, happy that they had come to feast in the garden. The garden is after all being created for the wildlife 🙂 

July 26th – today I managed to go for a walk in the field.  It is really dry, there are cracks in the ground.  All of the bristly oxtongue where the butterflies were has all been cut down.  It feels a very different place with all the vegetation/crop removed.  The copse is starting to look brown underneath the trees.  The next field over hasn’t been harvested yet and still has some greenery around the margins.  All that is really left in the field now is mainly stinging nettles and a few patches of grass on top edge.  I know these are important but its sad that the chamomile etc has all been cut down when it would still have been useful to the insects buzzing around the field.  When the farmers all cut at the same time this sudden vanishing food source must have a real impact on our wildlife.   

July 27th – this morning there was a buzzard sat on one of the straw bales. 

Over the month I have also been looking at who else has started to visit the garden area next to the field, some I can identify easily but there are so many new creatures I have never seen before! which I have been trying my best to identify (if I have any wrong, please let me know):

My Patch – June 2018

So June’s blog is a little late! July’s will probably be a little later still! 

I have to say that I have spent a lot more time in the garden than I have out in the field because 1) the edge of the field was over grown and extremely difficult to walk around 2) the garden needed lots done to it 3) I’ve been working long hours at work and 4) 30 Days Wild happened 🙂

June 6th – I saw a Jay in the garden for the first time, it was a very fleeting visit but it was nice to see.  There are lots of fledgling birds about at the moment.  Starlings, great spotted woodpeckers, rooks and this evening I watched the house sparrows leaving their nest from under the roof tiles.  

June 11th – I heard the cuckoo again so he’s still here at the moment 🙂

June 12th – Seeing the slugs and snails have been making a meal out of the seedlings in the garden I decided they would be moving home, into the field! I found a brown garden snail and what I think is a white-lipped banded snail and a grey field slug – happy to be corrected if I’m wrong as I’ve not identified snails and slugs before! 

June 13th – I put the camera out last night to see how the fox is getting on in the field.  She’s still about and takes full advantage of any food that is put out for her 🙂

June 18th – For 30 Days Wild today I went out into the field to see what flowers were about, I found; Soft-brome grass, Corn Chamomile, Curled dock, Field Forget-me-not and of course Stinging nettles. 

June 25th – there was a Roe deer in the field first thing, a male.  I didn’t get a photo as only his antlers were visible in the rape!

June 26th – The cat showed his colours today – two dead birds, one juvenile robin and a blue tit.  There hasn’t been a ‘kill’ left on the doorstep for a while so not sure why its happened today.  

June 28th – Today I found my first Tiger Cranefly (Nephrotoma flavescens), I was looking at the plants in the raised beds and it caught my eye.  

June 29th – I was stood in the front garden and ‘something’ landed on a nearby tree – a Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus).  

I do seem to be writing about more insects this month; 30 Days Wild has started me looking for the smaller creatures in my patch and as I mentioned the field was a little difficult to get around so my attention diverted to what I could easily get too 🙂

I hadn’t heard the cuckoo since the 11th so I can only assume he’s left again for another year – safe travels little chap, hope to hear you again (and maybe see you!) next year…

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 26

Today’s 30 Days Wild isn’t quite so nice as all the rest.  This morning when I got to the house next to my patch I found a baby robin by the door (I don’t think it had fledged but could be wrong), with a pleased looking cat sat next to it!  

Now normally if he decides to catch anything its mice and rats.  He was a stray that has made himself a home as a farm cat.  After I had told the cat off – not that he listened, I took the robin and buried it in the garden.  I didn’t fancy letting him eat it.  I then noticed him looking in the flower bed at the front of the house and discovered the head and wings of a blue tit!!  He is not in my good books.  I don’t like the fact that he has killed two birds, but I can’t tell him off to severely.  Finally after 8 years he has just plucked up the courage to let people within 2 feet of him and I can actually stroke him now, which with him getting older can only be an advantage.  He is a nice cat, except the bird/mice/rat catching aspect! I’m hoping he doesn’t catch anymore anytime soon.  

I don’t like to think about all the animals he has caught over the years. I guess he does generally eat his prey so in a way it was / is survival instinct for him, but he gets fed, so generally he doesn’t have a need to eat extra items. In the last year another cat has decided to make his home there too. He is very friendly and to our knowledge is too lazy to catch prey, he just shouts at humans for food instead! 

It’s estimated by the Mammal Society that 55 million birds are killed by cats each year! To me that seems like a huge number, especially when so many of our bird species are in decline.  There is however no evidence to show that cats are causing a reduction in numbers as some of the species with the most intense declines would not have a lot of contact with cats.  However any species that already has pressure put on it with loss of habitats for example do not really need added pressure from our feline friends.   

The RSPB suggest putting collars on cats to alert prey to their presence. That has been tried with the friendly cat as he can be picked up, but he hates the collar. He walks backwards to try and take it off when it’s put on, so there is no way he will wear it! and the main prey catcher – well unfortunately I don’t think he will ever be tame enough to even try to put a collar on him. 

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 18

Since I received my new wild flower book I have wanted to spend a little time out in the field exploring what plants are living along the margins.  The farmer has now cut a path around the edge where the wild plants were meeting the crop so it is now more accessible to walk around.  I spent about 10 mins this evening out in the field, I had intended on spending longer but I wasn’t expecting the rain quite so early!  I have managed to identify a few of the plants I found:  Soft-brome grass, Corn Chamomile, Field Forget-me-not and of course the Stinging nettle. 

 

Others are still a complete mystery!…

 

I think I might make a winter project out of the wild flowers in the field – photograph them in the summer and then identify in the winter.  I only looked at a small corner of the field, if I’m to try and identify what the rest of the field holds (126 acres though the crop covers 98% of it!) I think its best to get out and photograph them all in the coming month or two! 

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 14

I knew today was going to be a day where I wouldn’t have much time to get out in the wild, so last night I put the trailcam out in the field with some left over cake! Yes I know not the best thing for the fox but they don’t get given it very often, its normally chicken carcass or eggs.  She has however, been helping herself to next doors new guinea fowl!!  They saw her watching them the other week but I’m assuming didn’t put them behind the electric fence with the other chickens so they went ‘missing’.

I think we can safely say she also likes cake!!  Over a period of 3 hours she squirreled it away to various locations nearby.  I’d cut it up a bit so it didn’t fall apart as she carried it off.  I don’t know if that was just to hide it from anyone else that might want the steal it or because she seemed a little weary of the camera, though she hasn’t worried about it before.  I wondered if she had cubs nearby… I hope she has cubs 🙂 

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 06

This morning I noticed a lot of fledglings in the garden next to my patch. Unfortunately I was running late for work so didn’t have time to take any photos.  There were 12 starling causing chaos, 2 great spotted woodpeckers and 1 rook, all with their parents begging for food.  

This evening I managed to take some shots of the house sparrows that on appearance, fledged tonight.  The parents were still going into the nest hole under the roof tiles, as well as tending to the ones hopping around on the roof.  It seems like everything fledged in the garden today! 

My Patch – May 2018

May 1st – I thought the starlings had one nest at the front of the house like they did last year; under the roof tiles. Actually there seems to be two, both near the bathroom, and fairly close together.  There is also one nest at the back of the house again under the roof tiles above one of the bedrooms, this location was used last year as well. This afternoon I saw four swallows swooping over the field.  They didn’t stay around unfortunately but its good to see them back.  I was heading home and was already running late; then I spotted a tractor in the next field ploughing.  There were loads of gulls and in the distance following it a red kite.  Why when you have no time to stop do interesting things happen?!

May 3rd – I put the trailcam out in the field last night with some left over food and some eggs.  Although it was misty it did show a mouse, a hedgehog and a fox.  At least we now know the hedgehog is travelling though the field and not across the road!  The fox took the food away.

May 4th – The starlings are definitely feeding their young; when in the bathroom you can hear them calling in the roof space. I’m not sure which nest it is though seeing there are two close to the bathroom! 

May 8th – This morning I noticed the starling chicks at the back of the house are calling when the parent disappears under the roof tiles. There was a Streamer moth on the kitchen window – thanks to all those on Twitter who confirmed this for me.  Identifying moths is new to me and this one didn’t seem easy to find!

May 9th – I was out working on the garden, the starlings at the back of the house are working hard to feed their chicks, I could hear them calling once every 10-15 minutes or so 🙂

May 14th – I haven’t seen them yet but the owner informs me there were 10 fledgling jackdaws lined up on the fence being fed suet this morning! 

May 15th – The starlings are busily back and forth to the nests taking in food.  At the back of the house the parents have been sat outside the nest with food calling, I think they are trying to encourage the young to leave!  At the front the parents don’t seem to be calling, just flitting in and out.  One carried out a fecal sac but I missed getting a photo and one has also been taking in a bit of nesting material.  I wonder if they are starting to get prepared for a second brood?!  The jackdaw in the the middle chimney has been sat on the edge of the brick work with food.  I have been seeing many more moths in the garden but I am having problems identifying them! 

May 17th – Tonight I discovered house sparrows are nesting under the roof tiles at the back of the house 😃 they were busy taking in food. 

While I was trying to take some photos of them I took a very quick picture of two birds on the roof thinking they were house sparrows.  After correcting the exposure that was, well, not correct! I discovered that they were actually linnet.  I have never knowingly seen linnet before and this was a definite first for the garden, I now wonder if there are more out in the field.

The jackdaw nesting in the end chimney was sat on the TV ariel with food, they seem quite jumpy when there is anyone in the garden and are reluctant to actually go into their nests. 

I went to walk around the field but its getting too over grown to get around.  I will have to try a different route on another day.  Hopefully they other side of the field has a wider margin, at least I know on that side there are no rabbit holes to fall down! 

May 24th – There are fledgling starlings in the garden 🙂 I don’t think they are from the nests here as they are still taking food in and I can hear the chicks calling still.  Hopefully ours will fledged soon.  

While I have been working on the garden I have noticed a lot more of the small creatures that live here. A potential Ichneumon wasp, lots of snails and slugs, and some very fast moving spiders that I haven’t been able to have a good look at yet! I may have to relocate some of the slugs and snails out into the field as some of my sunflowers have met a slimy end!

May 30th – The cuckoo is stall calling from across the field.  He always seems to be where I am not!

May 31st – The jackdaws are still feeding young in one of the chimneys, I could hear them calling this morning. The fledgling starlings are making it difficult to hear if there are still chicks in the other nests as they are just so loud!