Few of us can complain that the weather was poor in August – warm, dry conditions continued in South Shropshire which as far as I was concerned was perfect for the garden wildlife here, especially the butterflies and bumblebees. There were good numbers of the larger butterfly species on the Buddleia and purple loosestrife in particular, and we frequently saw young warblers feeding in the Buddleia too – scooping up the large numbers of invertebrates feeding on the flowers in the warm dry conditions. We continued to see the very yellow willow warbler that appeared in July along with several juvenile chiff chaffs and the garden was full of young wrens. Red admiral, comma, peacock, painted lady and large white were joined by a silver-washed fritillary – a new species for the garden, bringing the total number of butterflies recorded in the garden here to twenty six. On the 4th a single wall brown appeared feeding on lavender, and several common blues continued to patrol the mini-meadows.
The second week of the month brought some cooler weather with a couple of welcome heavy downpours. On the 14th I discovered that our very active red-tailed bumblebee nest had been completely dug up and most of the contents devoured. Only a few adult bees remained. In our previous garden in Oxfordshire badgers were the culprits when this occurred, but here the garden is fenced to exclude rabbits, which also, technically, prevents the local badgers from visiting us, although we see plenty of signs of them outside the garden. The only conclusion is that badgers do come into the garden at night but this is the first positive evidence we have had for some time! There were few signs of small mammals in the garden this month with no bank voles seen at all, but excellent views were had of a large stoat hunting close to the house on the 13th. Sadly my camera was not to hand so the photo is of a previous visit to the garden – September seems to be the month when we see stoats most frequently so I will continue to watch out for this beautiful mammal.
The moth trap was only out overnight on one occasion this month and no new species for the garden were caught. However some of my favourites turned up including gold spot, pebble prominent, blood vein and Chinese character, pictured below.
The mallard ducklings continued to grow and try their wings but still showed no signs of leaving the garden! We are hopeful that they will soon leave us for the countryside round about as they have caused a great deal of disturbance around both the large pond and the marshy pond, possibly affecting the dragonfly populations here as they feed on the larvae of aquatic insects as well as vegetable matter. Later in the month a hobby was seen over the garden, flying north-west, and as we moved towards the end of the month large numbers of house martins and swallows started, as usual, to feed over the garden especially in the late afternoons. Juvenile tits swarmed around the feeders, and a heron was a regular visitor to the ponds. After some cool weather there was a brief return to warm sunny conditions but a hint of autumn was most certainly in the air as September approached.