My Patch – April 2019

April 3rd – This morning in the garden there were two robins, long-tailed tits and the starlings were clicking up on the roof.  

April 10th – some late afternoon sun brought out the bees and a 7-spot ladybird.  Unfortunately I didn’t get very clear photos of the bees so not sure which ones they were!  I still find them confusing.


April 11th – This evening I got a chance to take a short walk around the field.  The male fallow deer were located out in the centre of the field, I think they are starting to get used to me as they don’t react too much now.  I was hoping I would start to find some flowers in the field but its either too early or too many herbicides have been sprayed so they haven’t had a chance to develop yet.  I did find a lone lesser celandine.  In the garden there is a male goat willow tree, in the field down near next doors garden, is what I believe to be a female goat willow.  

The birds that nest around the house have been much more visible around their nest sites, the jackdaws are in the chimneys and the starlings are taking nesting material into the roof 🙂

There was a bee checking out holes in the garden wall this evening, it has taken me a while to figure out, but I have finally narrowed it down to being a hairy-footed flower bee.  The first one I have ever seen 🙂 

April 15th – this morning I found my first brimstone moth, just sat on the wall outside the front door!  

April 18th – Whilst tidying the raised bed I noticed all the small creatures starting to appear in the vegetation.  The first one I spotted was apion frumentarium, next up was a tiny dark bush-cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera) and then a clover mite.  My last discovery of the day was a phalangium opilio spider.  I had never seen any of them before so this evening I had to do some research into what they all were!

Now I seem to have missed the nesting season this year!  I don’t know how; has all just happened earlier this year? or have I just been occupied with  growing plants and missed it? today I saw a starling take food into his nest!  Tomorrow I aim to pay a little more attention and train my camera on the nest hole to see exactly what is going on.  

April 19th – The starlings are 100% feeding in the nests at the back of the house, I watched both parents visit one after the other.  They both had at least two items of food in their beaks.  

There were more 7-spot ladybirds in the garden this afternoon and an orange-tip butterfly landed on the garlic mustard 🙂

April 20th – today I was concentrating on concreting the patio, however I couldn’t miss the common frog that hopped out of a hole underneath the raised bed and off across the patio.  He had been disturb as I had put sand over the top of him as I was filling in a hole and I hadn’t seen him!  I moved him up next to the small pond so he could hide under the plants.  

April 21st – there was a moth on the window, a Lunar marbled brown (Drymonia ruficornis).  I got out in the field for a walk this morning.  I heard my first cuckoo of the year – it is so nice to know he has returned safely.  I didn’t notice a lot of other birds, I don’t know if it was because I seemed to be noticing the insects or they just didn’t seem to be about.  I did have a companion with me who does make more noise than me when walking so it could have been a factor!  I did hear a woodpecker drumming.  

Since I have been following #Wildflowerhour on Twitter my botanical skills have improved greatly.  It is nice to be able to identify my finds without now having to spend hours trying to figure out what they are!  I want to take note this year of what is growing in the field so that next year I might be able to add to the population by growing them from seed and planting them out.  Today I identified, ground-ivy, red dead-nettle, cuckooflower and garlic mustard in the copse.  I was pleased to see the amount of garlic mustard there was as I know in the copse it won’t be cut down when the crop is harvested, hopefully it also explains the orange-tips who were darting around close by.  I need to go for a wander amongst it to see what else is growing in there!  

The time I save not having to look up flowers is definitely spent on the insects and arachnids!  After a lot of work identifying (I hope correctly) I found; Helophilus pendulus, Cucumber spider, Corizus hyoscyami, nomada sp. unknown, Nursery Web Spider, notostira elongata, Eupeodes sp. unknown, Pied Shieldbug (Tritomegas bicolor) on host plant white dead-nettle, Yellow Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria), Flesh Fly (Sarcophaga carnaria), what I think is a pterostichus cupreus eating a harpalus affinis, Peacock butterfly and my first Dark-edged Bee-fly (Bombylius major) of the year!

When walking back up past the copse the fallow deer appeared in front of us.  They decided that is was safe enough to run out of the copse and into the field stopping a safe distance away.  I like these types of encounters 🙂

April 24th – I’m sure I saw a swallow this evening; I don’t think I was imagining it but it was only a fleeting glimpse.  I happened to take a photo of the garlic mustard and only noticed afterwards that there is a orange-tip egg on it 🙂 I hope we have some more.  It is nice to know that all I am trying to do with the garden is helping some of the garden visitors.   

April 25th – The starling chicks at the front of the house have started calling – across the garden and the neighbouring house I think there are now three starling nests with calling chicks. 

April 29th – The field was being sprayed when I got there this evening; I assume with pesticides. The male fallow deer who were resting in the middle of the field didn’t move until the machinery was two runs away from them. They ran off but then stopped short of the copse, they eventually disappeared.  The starlings are still calling and I heard the cuckoo again this evening 🙂

 

My Patch – March 2019

March 6th – This evening I spotted a moth on the kitchen window just as I was about to go home.  I stepped outside to have a closer look, once the light had come on I realised there were about 6 moths flying around and 9 on the window.  I quickly went to grab my camera to get a picture as I had no idea what type it was.  I found something in my insect book that looked similar; a common Quaker so I went online to see if I could find more images to clarify.  It wasn’t the right moth but there were also images of a small Quaker which I was 99% sure it was.  I posted my image on Twitter and @MothIDUK kindly confirmed my ID was correct.

Small Quaker generally live in deciduous woodland and are on the wing from March to April.  They feed on sallow blossom, which explains why there were so many in the garden – the goat willow is currently covered in catkins with their green/yellow pollen 🙂  The larvae feed in early summer on deciduous trees including willow so I will be looking closely at the tree later in the year to see if we have any larvae.  

March 11th – When I got to the field this morning I was told there were brown hares in the field but I would need to look out of one of the upstairs windows to see them.  One was led down and the other ran across the field as I was watching them.  I love seeing the hares as they are so secretive it is very special to see them.  

March 13th – there were 9 fallow deer on the far side of the field tonight. 

March 14th – there were 25 fallow deer in the middle of the field tonight.  I do worry about them as the white ones really do make the herd stand out! 

March 20th – there was a pheasant in the garden under the bird feeder! I have a feeling he may become a regular visitor! 

March 21st – tonight I went out to listen for tawny’s but again there were none.  Whilst I was listening I was also looking; for cellar slugs.  The RHS is looking for people to submit their sightings of yellow cellar and green cellar slugs to their iRecord recording page.  They are looking to find out which garden features may influence where the slugs are located.  I found 18 green cellar slugs but no yellow.  The yellow cellar slugs are in decline so any sightings are really important.  I’m going to try and complete a search once a month, the slugs are nocturnal so make you have a fully charged torch before heading out for this survey! 

I heard a noise and thought it could be a fox over the other side of the fence, stepping up onto the raised bed a bat flew over my head and was illuminated by my torch light 🙂 I discovered the noise I thought I heard, it was in fact in the garden, I think there is a hedgehog rustling around in the leaves.  I will have to put the trail camera out next week to find out for sure.  

March 22nd – the pheasant was back again this morning; I managed to get a very bad photo of him on my phone.   

March 25th – I wanted to walk around the field this evening as it was such a lovely evening, however the farmer was fertilizing! I walked along the track towards the copse.  I wanted to see if any flowers were growing.  I found one lesser celandine and some leaves that indicated that there are others that may have already flowered.  There are some cuckoo-pint leaves and some leafy sections although at present I’m not sure what plants they are.  There will be lots common nettles again this year which will benefit the insects.  I don’t believe the copse is managed in anyway and I can only assume that the lack of varying vegetation is due to the deer who probably eat it.  There are tiny saplings growing, I’m not sure which trees they are so I need to have a closer look.     

March 27th – this morning the blue and great tits were not on the feeders but looking around the shed roof and the leaves of the newly sprouting roses for more natural food sources.  There is now a pile of twigs underneath the jackdaws regular nest site so I can only assume they are refurbishing their nest, especially seeing there is a twig sticking out of the entrance hole – its looks like they have got it well and truly stuck! The twigs that have fallen on the garden floor from the goat willow have been left for them to use if they wish. 

Tonight we put up two new nest boxes in the field near the house.  I am hoping we have some sparrows nest in them, but I would be happy with anyone using them to be honest.  I may have to spend some time sat in the field just watching the boxes to see if there is any activity. 

I put the trail camera out facing the wren/robin box on the side of the house, it was triggered, although I only had footage of the box with nobody entering or leaving it!  I’m guessing the trail camera won’t be much help at that nest!  

My Patch – February 2019

February 1st – I managed to get to work in all the snow and at lunch they decided to send everyone home.  Of course I didn’t go home I went straight to the patch – I wasn’t going to miss using ‘free time’ to check out what’s going on even if it was snowing!  I headed out and over by the copse found deer tracks and found a robin in the brambles.  I really liked the monotone colour of the field with the snow falling the carrion crow added to the artistic feel.  There were not that many birds on the ground though I did hear a buzzard and overhead 8 lapwing, a black-headed gull and a cormorant all flew over while I was out.  I was looking at the trees when a small movement caught my eye, a wren was at the base of tree trunk looking for food in the little bits of ground there where not covered in snow.   

Once back at the house I sat and watched the birds on the feeders: 2 blue tits, 1 great tit, 5 starlings, 1 robin and one bird that made me look twice – a reed bunting!  I have never seen one in the field or the garden before so it took me a while to recognise it as I just didn’t expect to see one.     

February 2nd – Today was a beautifully sunny day.  I had to go out in the field as we don’t get many days like this a year!  The only footprints in the field were mine, fallow deer, fox, brown hare and rabbit. No other humans had been there.  It’s good to know the creatures of the field don’t get a lot of disturbance.  I know people walk down by the river as there are sometimes dog walkers but generally they only seem to be there at weekends. When I reached the copse I could hear a redwing calling, I finally located it at the top of the trees in the hedgerow just opposite.  

I walked along my normal route down the side of the copse what I hasn’t notice when i walked across the field was the fallow deer led down along the side of the trees, they were really well camouflaged against the brown of the tree trunks.  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find them there as they were in the same location where I had noticed the snow had been disturbed yesterday.  

I didn’t want to disturb them so I walked in the next field over on the other side of the copse.  The sun shining through the trees looked really pretty.  It was hard work walking down to the river as the snow seemed to be deep on this side of the trees, in some places it was half way up my calves!  

As I reached the river I noticed three cormorants sat in one of the trees further downstream.  I wouldn’t have normally seen them as I wasn’t technically in my patch.  I have seen the odd one fly overhead so its nice to know there is more than one passing through.  There were lots of hoof prints down by the river, the deer must use the copse to get to the river to drink.  It is actually really useful to go out in the snow when no other humans have been about as the animal tracks have given me a much better idea of how they use the features of the field.  

I haven’t really got to grips with the river yet and this summer I would like to spend some more time there (though I might need to tame some of the vegetation so I can actually see the river!).  I heard a moorhen, saw a blue tit on one of the trees, two pairs of mallard swam by and four long-tailed tit worked their way along the bank from tree to tree.  There are large gaps between each tree so maybe there needs to be a couple of extras added for them.  I felt like a rabbit at one point as shadows moving along the ground caught my eye, thankfully in my case it didn’t mean danger just two grey heron flying over.

I decided to walk all the way around the field so not to disturb the deer on my walk back to the car.  It looks as though they generally only venture to the copse, the river and the ‘island’ which I believe was a meander in the river which had been altered to straighten the river once more.  I do however think this could also be the reason the river bank is eroding and the trees are leaning in the river as they loose their stable ground.  According to the land owner the river is much wider now than it was when he was a child.  

As I walked along the far edge I noticed fox prints, there were more towards the barn and I think it may have caught something as the snow was all scuffed up but there were not any signs of what it might have caught.  It looks like it could have been hiding in the hedge and pounced out.  I noticed a bird box on one of the trees which I haven’t seen before, they have cleared the ditch so I guess that’s why it’s visible now.  I wanted to check to see if had been used but I don’t know who has put it there and didn’t want to interfere.  One of the trees was old enough, to be large enough, for me to stand against its trunk, I liked the shadow the sun was casting of it on the snow.  

I had reached the barn but had to be conscious of the deer that were still relaxing on the other side of the field.  I didn’t want to spook them so moved slowly and stopped regularly to check on them and take more photos 🙂 

February 14th – 20:25 no owls heard – none heard all week

February 17th – The swans have returned 🙂 There were three in the field down by the river. I wonder if they will stay; there were numerous feeding on the crop shoots last year. 

This evening I cleaned out all of the nest boxes ready for this season.  I know last year a great tit started to build a nest in the starling box, what I hadn’t realised was it made a full nest; I don’t think it raised any young, though now I’m not sure and wonder if I missed the signs.  The sparrow terrace had a nest too!  Last year there were no signs of nesting in it at all and I was expecting to have to relocate it this year.  Seeing there has been some success all the boxes were put back in the same locations.  Fingers crossed for more nests this year…

February 22nd  – I spent the day in the garden cutting back the hawthorn hedge.  The birds were not happy with me; a) because I was in the garden and they didn’t want to go to the bird feeder on the left side (their favourite feeder) and b) I was cutting down their favourite place to sit before they dart onto the feeder!  I have promised them that once the fence has been jet washed and painted I will make sure there are some shrubs in pots put next to the feeder that they can use as additional cover.  The great spotted woodpecker kept landing in the goat willow tree, then I noticed another land close by, they seemed to have a disagreement and one flew off.  If I sat quietly on the garden bench, one would come down and feed on the feeders a few meters away.  Later on I heard drumming in the distance.  I spotted my first 7-spot ladybird on one of the plants and a bumblebee was buzzing around but I didn’t manage to locate it to find out what it was.  

It does worry me that the insects are out already, that its going to be warm all weekend and it could possibly get cold again.  What worries me more is the majority of people don’t see this as worrying.  Colleagues at work were talking about how nice the weekend was going to be and that soon they will be able to get the BBQ’s out etc, I mentioned the insects and they sort of went quiet (I often feel like the odd girl in the corner that doesn’t talk about normal things!).  A couple of people engage with talking about their gardens and planting some flowers for the insects – a couple is better than none.

I know there is a lot more in the news about the issues we face but I’m not sure people really see what’s going on around them or how everything interacts – I guess they just aren’t interested.  I managed to convince my office to be more aware about crisp packets; to collect all their empty packets so they can be sent off for recycling.  I was known as the ‘girl collecting crisp packets’ for a while after my office manager agreed I could have a box behind my desk for them, but now people from other departments sometime drop off used packets too!  In my mind any packet collected is better than it ending up in landfill.  I’m just not sure how we convince everyone to care about it!  I think they have to see the effects with their own eyes to understand how it actually effects them.   

February 25th – 19:55 no owls – none heard all week

February 27th – there were 19 fallow deer in the field at sunset.  The long-tailed tits wanted to get to the fat balls to feed, they weren’t happy I was stood in the way watching the deer, they were shouting at me from the hazel tree, I moved so they could feed.  Two tree sparrows were following each other through the jasmine looking for bugs, they flew off together, I hope they find one of the nest boxes nearby, though last year some did nest in the roof space just above the jasmine so fingers crossed.  

The mute swans didn’t stayed longer than a couple of days, hopefully they will come back when the crop is more suitable for eating!

My Patch – November & December 2018

I haven’t really had that many observations of the field in November and December. The lack of light since the clocks have changed has really been the biggest factor but I have also been having a tough time at work and spent a lot of time trying to problem solve issues that no one else is interested in solving. My attention had unfortunately been somewhere else…. 

November

November 13th – 3 deer were in the field this morning 🙂

November 19th – There were more fallow deer in the field this morning.  Now last month I said I had not knowingly seen fallow deer in the field before.  I was originally told by the owner of the field that they get roe deer so I believed them.  Well that was my first mistake!  I have looked carefully today at the differences between roe and fallow and I believe that the deer in the field have always been fallow! – well all the ones I have photos of anyway!  So I now feel I need to write a disclaimer that all of my ‘patch’ blogs / Tweets before this date have probably got the wrong identification of roe deer.  Yes I feel rather stupid, but I guess on the upside no one has corrected me so no one else has noticed either – I bet you will be looking closer from now on! – so will I!!!   

November 22nd – Tonight I completed another BTO Tawny owl survey.  Unfortunately I didn’t hear any again; I haven’t heard any for a while now, though the owner of the field did say he heard them last weekend.  I will have to try and listen earlier in the evening, maybe 20:40 was a little late.   

November 25th – I heard 2 tawny’s calling tonight 🙂 its good to hear them again, I guess I just keep missing them when I carry out the BTO survey.

December 

December 11th – This morning there were redwing and fieldfare feeding on the hawthorn bushes. Thankfully I had already booked the day off work so I was able to spend some time watching them 🙂

Next year I plan on keeping an extensive list of everything I find in my ‘patch’.  I know this means I will have a lot more learning to do to make sure I log every plant, insect, spider etc that I can find!  I would like to change careers to working in conservation or ecology and hope learning from my patch will a be a stepping stone to gaining the knowledge I need to do so.  

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 garden 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. 

RSPB Ham wall – August 2018

I headed to RSPB Ham Wall over the August Bank Holiday weekend with a friend who wanted to try out a couple of cameras he had hired. I also had with me my new Sigma 150mm Macro 2.8, I had put it on my old Nikon D300 seeing I probably wouldn’t need to crop into the images much.  Although we had gone to go bird watching we were also trying out new kit 🙂    

We headed down to Tor hide; from previous visits we know it is a good place to spot bitterns!  There was a fair amount of activity, a marsh harrier, gadwall, great white egret, cormorant, swallow, little brown thing that flew between the reeds that I just saw out of the corner of my eye (I have no idea at all what it was!), black headed gull, moorhen, the Red Arrows flew over!, little grebe, and of course a bittern.  It took a very short flight over the reed beds, I was lucky to get a photo as by the time you had seen it, it was gone! 

After a few hours I walked back to the car park to use the facilities!  On the way I saw a mute swan and 4 cygnets and a little creature ran across the path.  I’m not sure who was most surprised, me or him, we both stopped, looked at each other briefly and he shot into the grass.  I think it was a vole but it was such a brief encounter I can’t be certain.  That will teach me for not taking my camera!

On the walk to the Avalon Hide I saw another vole! This one didn’t stop to look, he just shot across the path!  The hide wasn’t too busy when we got there but people were very spread out, it became obvious after a while that people who were there together were taking up a window each rather than sitting together to allow others to sit down. Now I do see the value of a window each because it allows you more room, however, I have always moved to sit with a companion if others come in to sit down, I just see it as polite. We had to squeeze in a gap in between a window and someone’s scope because they were taking up two windows, they were sat a good few feet away from the windows and at an angle, it was a little odd, they didn’t even acknowledge we were there!  After a while of feeling rather uncomfortable we were able to move to a window that became available.  

There wasn’t a huge number of birds about but enough to keep us occupied: little egret, great white egret, mute swan, coot, house martin, cormorant, 4 marsh harriers at once and a sparrowhawk!  The lady sat next to me noticed it at the same time and we were debating on what it was at the time.  I think it took us both by surprise sat in the water by the reeds. 

With regards to my new lens, after a bit of testing I think it would work better on my D3s, the D300 just doesn’t seem to work properly with it, it didn’t seem to want to focus, it just wasn’t right.  I normally have a wide angle on the D3s so looks like I might have to do some switching of lenses while out in the field when necessary!  Not something I like to do if I can help it, I rather dislike cleaning camera sensors!

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2019

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch has crept up on me fast this year; I can’t believe it is the end of January already!  Maybe it is the mild weather that has fooled me into thinking we are not already one third of the way through winter! 

As always I like to compare my results from previous years, I wasn’t surprised that bird numbers were low again this year; only 6 species again.  We normally see some woodpigeon and feral pigeon but not today!  What I do know is we have had an increased number of cats in the garden, in particular new young ones that sit under the feeder.  I thought they sat there to attack the birds but today I noticed a wood mouse that appears from next doors garden to feed on the dropped food. 

On the up side there have been blue tits looking in the nest boxes and I think they have been using them as roosts. Unfortunately we don’t have cameras in the boxes so I don’t know for sure.  Fingers crossed they occupy both boxes again in Spring.

 

  2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Coal tit     1 2 1
Blue tit 2 1 2 2 3
Great tit     1   1
Long-tailed Tit         1
Blackbird 3 4 7 4 2
Woodpigeon   4 4 2  
Goldfinch 5 1 7 9 2
Blackcap     1 1  
Greenfinch       1  
Robin 2   1 2 2
Collard dove     2 3 1
Starling     3 1 1
House sparrow 2   3 1  
Dunnock 1 1 1   1
Pied wagtail         1
Siskin     2    
Chaffinch   1      
Total no. of species 6 6 13 11 11
Total no. of birds 15 12 35 28 16
Weather Light cloud, dry Wind, rain      

 

In the garden throughout the year we have still had regular visits from hedgehogs and the fox, hopefully their visits will continue this year as well 🙂

I took a few photos through the kitchen window of this year’s Birdwatch attendees…

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…