The beginning of June was very warm and sunny in South Shropshire and swallows, swifts and martins were feeding around the house and over the garden every day. Juvenile great tits appeared in the garden on the 3rd, just as the weather took a turn for the worse and sadly it became cool and damp again. The colder weather continued and at times it was very windy and not at all summery! Lots of young blue tits were feeding around the orchard, suggesting that they had fledged from the nest boxes on our apple trees there. Banded demoiselles were still abundant all around the garden but especially close to our boundary with the field next door, which has a small natural pond. There was no evidence of the nuthatches still being fed in the nest box so I assumed that they had fledged – we soon began to see them around the garden and on the feeders. Chiffchaffs were seen daily and a male siskin made good use of the bird feeder outside my office window. Later in the week both a male and female siskin were seen feeding together. As the weather warmed a little at the end of the week, common blue and large skipper butterflies joined the small tortoiseshells around the garden meadows, feeding mainly on birds’ foot trefoil. Other abundant butterflies were small whites and green-veined whites. I kept a watchful eye on the swallows nesting in our porch and it soon became obvious that the eggs had hatched and four small beaks were seen begging for food. Thankfully, the weather was good enough for the diligent parents to be returning to the nest constantly with food for them.
On the 7th of the month the weather became cooler again. A beautiful little pygmy shrew was seen in the back garden, not a species we see frequently – common shrew is more usual here. The weather continued to be cool and often damp, but there was little in the way of actual rain. There were still large numbers of young blue tits all around the garden and on the 10th more recently fledged great tits found food around the orchard trees. Young coal tits too were being fed by parents and the siskins were seen daily.
Grey squirrels seemed to have had a good breeding season and six were counted under one of the bird feeders outside my office door! The moorhens continued to feed around the pond, and a single bank vole could be seen outside the back door most days. The cooler weather continued with a little sun now and again, but after the very warm weather of the previous few weeks it felt like quite a change! A blackcap sang in the orchard and around the vegetable garden daily and brimstone, small tortoiseshell, comma and red admiral butterflies were regular visitors, while green-veined white and small white were appearing in excellent numbers. Other birds around the garden this week included pied wagtails, linnets and a single jay along with all our usual species.
The third week of June brought a slight improvement in weather with many swallows, swifts and house martins feeding over the garden daily. This more pleasant weather did not last though, with storms all around the country and here there were views of some wonderful if slightly alarming cloud formations over the Long Mynd! Young birds continued to come to the garden for food including juvenile coal tits and lots of house sparrows – a quite unusual species here. The light evenings revealed a visit from a barn owl one evening and the next evening two of these beautiful birds were quartering the big meadow in search of voles. Chiffchaff and blackcap sang daily but sadly there was no sign of the whitethroat. Four yellowhammers were seen in one of our hedges on the 17th suggesting that breeding here had been successful and on the 17th one of my absolute favourite birds, a garden warbler, was heard singing from our boundary hedge, and it was seen a few days later in the same spot.
At the beginning of the last week of June the changeable weather improved for a while. The garden was still full of young tits, house sparrows and nuthatches plus juvenile great-spotted woodpeckers were frequenting the peanut feeders. Our swallows were feeding over the garden and fields around us and the wildflower meadows in the garden were looking wonderful – to my delight meadow butterflies began to appear, especially ringlet and meadow brown. We had very few of these two species last year so hopefully they will have a better breeding season here this summer. Half way through the week a female mallard and 8 newly hatched ducklings appeared on the pond! I was suspicious that she had a nest somewhere but it was still a surprise after the loss of her previous brood. A couple of days later there were young moorhens on the pond too. The month ended with better weather and the garden seemed to be brimming over with life, especially butterflies, bumblebees and young birds.