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 – February 2018

February has been a much more successful month in the field, with Spring finally on its way I have seen many more goings on…  

February 12th – I noticed this morning a Jackdaw looking in the chimney. They nested in it last year so hopefully it is a good sign that they will nest there again. 

February 13th – there were 32 mute swans in the field this morning. It’s nice to see they are still visiting in good numbers. 

February 15th – 10 starlings were sat on the roof chattering.  I noticed one sitting on the guttering near one of last years nest sites, it then popped in under the roof tile – looks like they are revisiting last years nests 🙂 The crows were also up on the chimney again.

February 20th – this morning there were 30 mute swans and a pheasant in the field. I know pheasants are around the field but this was the first time I had seen one at the top end of it. I had a quick visit to the garden tonight, I discovered fox scat in the flowerbed!

February 22nd – this morning there were two male pheasants in the field. They were closer to the garden and I am starting to wonder if they are picking up bird food that might have been dropped over the fence. Also 21 mute swans 🙂 

February 23rd – I put the trailcam out in the garden over night to see if the foxy visitor returned. Unfortunately nothing but plants swaying in the wind.

February 24th – the trailcam was put out over night in the field, the plan was to try and find out what was using the holes in the field as home (I assume rabbits).  Nothing came out of them, there were however a few visitors that passed by – fox, roe deer and possibly 2 badgers… or one that walked the same route a couple of times!  

February 25th – I decided seeing it was a sunny afternoon to head out in the field to look around.  Now I don’t normally see any other humans at all, however it being a Sunday afternoon I saw three!! Which might explain why I saw less than the normal amount of wildlife! Note to self – only go on the weekend if its really early! Along the north hedge I saw more than normal (no other humans there!) 5 starlings, 2 house sparrow and a blue tit, there were other small birds flitting around but they were hard to see darting into the hedge so I can only assume they are more of the same.  I know that there are tree sparrows in the area but I am yet to see any here.  

Walking passed the copse I again spooked the roe deer, 6 of them ran out the other side and settled in the next field over, through the trees I could also see where all of the mute swans have slowly disappeared to 🙂  Along the edge of the trees as I was walking down to the river I saw a bird running along the hedgerow, 99% sure it was a red-legged partridge.  I’ve not seen one in the field before.

Walking along the river I saw 2 of the humans, 2 mute swans and I heard both a moorhen and robin.  I still haven’t been able to have help to go and collect the litter, good news is its still there and hasn’t washed away! I’m still unsure if the ‘land’ its on is actually stable to stand on! 

On my walk back up I’m sure I saw a tawny owl sat on a tree branch on the edge of the copse, it flew off as soon as I saw it so I didn’t have a good view, but it looked owl like in flight, it flew back into the copse.  

February 26th – 5 mute swans and 11 roe deer near the copse this morning 🙂

February 27th – 1 pheasant and 2 mute swans in the field with 5 long-tailed tits on the feeder and a robin pottering around in the flowerbed. The mute swans have reduced in number over the month, but at least I know they are just in the next field over 🙂

My Patch – April 2017

At the beginning of April there was still Swan activity in the field, approximately 40 Mute Swans were feeding on the shoots but by mid April had moved on.  While they were still there they were joined one evening by a heard of 22 Roe Deer. It was a fairly warm evening and they were primarily led down in the middle of the field.  They stayed until dusk, when they got up and started to graze. I believe they moved on when it got dark, but it was too dark for me to see where they had moved to!  I like it when the Deer are in the field, I know it means that they are safe. The land owner has an agreement with the farmer that no wildlife is to be harmed on the land.  This means when the culling season is upon us they can’t be shot in this field.

The middle of April I decided to take a closer look in one of the hedgerows, it didn’t go to plan.  I had company on my walk that isn’t the type of company that goes with looking for birds – a cat! My friend lives in one of the houses adjacent to my patch and has a cat that lives outdoors.  She’s very friendly and decided that coming for a walk with me was the way she would spend her evening.  I didn’t expect her to walk all the way down the track and into a copse with me, then walk all the way back! If I stopped to look at something she stopped and waited for me! All I saw was a Robin at the top of a tree and a Rabbit who was quite a distance away thankfully! 

My attention has been drawn to the birds in the garden, who are nesting in my friends house. As far as we know there are 2 Jackdaw nests and 3 Starling nests all located in the roof, be it the chimneys where the Jackdaws have made home or underneath the roof tiles where the Starlings are. I’m looking forward to seeing their fledglings in the garden 🙂

Boxing Day 2016 – Visit to WWT Slimbridge

For a change of scenery on Boxing Day I headed to WWT Slimbridge with my parents. We have visited Slimbridge a number of times before, although not in the colder months and my Mum wanted to see the Bewick’s Swans in particular. So taking the back roads to avoid the Boxing day sales traffic we headed towards Gloucester. 

Even as an adult I buy grain to feed the birds. The Nene Geese came to greet us asking nicely for food; I lost my packet of food to my Dad who took to feeding them and every Moorhen he saw! We took a slow walk towards the Zeiss hide stopping for lunch at the picnic benches on route.  My parents aren’t birders so don’t like sitting in hides for long but during the periods of time they managed to sit still, I saw Roe Deer, a Curlew, Bewick’s Swans in the distance, a couple of Mute Swan and hundreds of Lapwing and Wigeon.  

Warm drinks were needed after a walk around the site, the restaurant was packed but I managed to get us a table near the window which was very fortuitous as I saw my first Grey Wagtail, so of course I grabbed my camera and headed outside for a record shot! 

Towards the end of our visit we headed to the Peng observatory, knowing we wanted to be there for the 4pm feeding to have a closer look at the Bewick’s Swans.  It is a nice place to sit and watch the bird’s slowly growing in number as they head in for feeding time.  It was lovely to see the birds following the wheelbarrow of food, there were about 30 Bewick’s, a real treat to witness and something I highly recommend seeing if you have time to stay till closing.

My full list of sightings:
Birds: Curlew, Bewick’s Swan, Mute, Swan, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Wigeon, Black-headed Gull, Shelduck, Coot, Moorhen, Reshank, Jackdaw, Rook, Teal, Pintail, Grey Wagtail, Long-tailed Tit, Woodpigeon, Song Thrush
Mammals: Roe Deer

Brownsea Island – September 2016

I’m not overly fond of boats, I rather like my feet being on solid ground! However this boat trip was okay, the sea was calm, thankfully!  I was on my way to Brownsea Island, Dorset. I don’t remember my last trip to Brownsea, I guess I would have been about 10 as we always used to holiday in the area. 

This visit though was about Squirrels, Red Squirrels. After I had paid the landing fee on entrance to the Island I was talking to one of the grounds keepers who told me he had seen Squirrels around the church the day before. Of course I headed straight to the wood behind the church and 5 minutes later I was watching the first Red Squirrel of the day 🙂 If you plan to go and take photographs then I found the light was much better in the morning in this area.  While looking out for the Squirrels I also managed to spot my first Treecreeper 🙂

After spending a few hours waiting and watching the Squirrels I headed off for lunch in the cafe. In the afternoon a took a walk around the Woodland trail, however the only place I spotted Squirrels was around the church. There were also a few very friendly Peacocks.  I think the key to spotting Red Squirrels on Brownsea Island is to stay quietly in the same place. So many people walked past saying they had not seen a single Red Squirrel! 

I was a little happier on the boat on the way back and even kept my camera out to take a few pictures of Poole Harbour. Seeing I was at the coast it was fish and chips for dinner which I ate surrounded by rather cute Black-headed Gulls, who patiently waited at my feet to see if I was going to feed them.  They wanted chips though and not the bird food I went and got for them from the car!

My full list of sightings for the day:
Mammals: Red Squirrel
Birds: Treecreeper, Avocet, Shag, Oystercatcher, Robin, Woodpigeon, Wren, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gulls
Dragonflies: Common Darter

RSPB Bempton Cliffs – May 2016

RSPB Bempton Cliffs - PuffinDay 1 – I arrived at RSPB Bempton Cliffs at midday. Knowing I wouldn’t have long as I needed to book into the campsite, I headed for the first viewing point. I must admit I had never seen a Puffin and that was one of the reasons to head to Bempton Cliffs.  Half an hour after arriving on site I got to see my first pair asleep on the cliff face.

 

Puffin’s are ever-so cute, they are small, about 8 inches tall, so are quite difficult to spot amongst the other birds, the best thing to do is look out for their orange feet! Puffin’s are on the Red List of Conservation Concern which means we really need to look out for these little feathered friends.  They are on selected areas of our coasts for only a few months of the year (March/April – mid August) and this is where they breed.  Puffin’s only have one Puffling a year so each one is of great importance to their numbers.

There are volunteers at the viewing platforms with scopes at Bempton Cliffs so if you don’t have binoculars you will still be able to get a good view if they are a long way off.

RSPB Bempton Cliffs - PuffinAfter booking into the campsite I took a walk along the cliff top from the site. I didn’t get too far as there had been a fairly recent landslide and I wasn’t 100% confident about carrying on! I did however see a Puffin 🙂

 

 


Day 2
– I was up early and got to Bempton Cliffs at about 9am. From the first viewing platform I saw 3 Puffins. I’m sure they were trying to decide who was going to leave the cliff first and I’m sure one was pushed! As you can imagine I stayed watching this story unfold for quite a while.

Further along the cliff while I was watching some Razorbills a Puffin landed and started to collect nesting material according to the volunteer he was coming back to the same spot so I waited for him to reappear again.

RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Bridled GuillemotA nice man pointed out to me that there was a Bridled Guillemot just along the cliff, I thanked him and went to look for it.  I wasn’t entirely sure what a Bridled Guillemot was but he had told me that it had the white marking on its face, like it was wearing glasses. Guillemots all have this marking though most are black, Bridled shows up as white.

After lunch I headed down to the other end of the cliffs, I was looking out for Puffins again, this time I spotted one inside of her burrow; a man next to me said that in the morning he had seen both the male and female in there.  Puffin’s normally dig burrows but on the cliffs they find crevices to breed in.

Sunrise at FlamboroughDay 3 – One great thing about camping is waking in the middle of the night and seeing the sunrise.

One piece of advice from today; if you go to Bempton Cliffs purely for Puffins plan to go on more than one day! I went to see Sand Martin’s in the morning (more about that in my next post) so only spent the afternoon at the cliffs. I didn’t see one Puffin! It did however mean I concentrated more on the other birds 🙂  Although you are looking at the individual birds you also need to look at the cliffs as a whole and the shear number of birds that are there, its quite amazing.

My full list of sightings for the visit:
Puffin, Razorbill, Herring Gull, Gannet, Guillemot and Bridled, Kittiwake, Tree Sparrow, Jackdaw, Fulmar and Kestrel