August began with some very cool weather but the house martins, which are now using the garden regularly, were in and out of the nest cups on the wall and seemed to be investigating the possibility of using them, although it is rather late in the season. Several swallows were also feeding around and over the garden, presumably the family from the nest in the front porch which was really successful this year with two good broods of six each time. There were still very few butterflies around the garden with only the occasional green-veined white or red admiral, although the gatekeepers were still fairly abundant. Later in the week I saw one painted lady and one comma feeding on the late flowers of Buddleia. Lots of young blue tits continued to feed around the garden and to use the bird feeders and the resident female mallard plus a small juvenile mallard were on the pond daily. No bank voles seen at all this week. As the week progressed huge numbers of house martins began to feed around the garden, especially over the Big Pond. This happens to some extent every year but this was the most we had seen here for several years. On the 5th of the month, house martins were seen again going into the nest cups and it looked as though they might be feeding a late brood. If so this would be the first time house martins have nested here in 17 years!
Comma on Verbena bonariensis
As we moved into the second week of the month temperatures increased and the weather was warmer with clear blue skies. Although this was pleasant I was keen to see some rain as we had had none for many weeks. There was still a lack of the usual butterfly species around although a single common blue was seen on the 11th plus one painted lady, but little else except for the still abundant gatekeepers and a few second brood meadow browns in the longer grass areas. Bird numbers too were low in general but swallows were still using the nests at the front of the house and house martins were now seen to be taking food into the nest cups at the back of the house. It’s been a long wait but worth it!! Two greenfinches were around the feeders for a while and a single juvenile was also seen. The weather slowly warmed to become very hot and sunny and on the 5th of the month young house martins were seen looking out of the nest cups. The swallows were also very cramped in the nest at the front of the house but left on the 14th although they were still actively being fed by the adult birds. In all there was lots of activity from hirundines all around the garden!
Bullfinch feeding on Scabious seeds
At the start of the third week of August the young swallows were still very active in the front porch and were often sitting in the climbing rose there, although some preferred to continue to sit on the porch shelf. All six youngsters left the nest at the beginning of the week although they continued to roost overnight there for some time. The weather was mainly overcast with a cool wind this week and also a little rain which was much needed in the garden. In general though the garden was quiet with very little wildlife about although two bullfinches were heard from time to time. A small flock of goldfinches came together in the garden, feeding on the knapweed seeds in the big meadow and several large dragonflies were busy around the big pond. The swallows and martins were feeding over the pond every day although the weather continued to be overcast with a little drizzly rain. Young tits were still using the feeders daily, especially blue tits which seem to have had a good breeding year here. Around the garden borders many of the wildlife friendly flowering plants were going over very early as the weather became cool, damp and overcast. On the 22nd of the month a very beautiful female roe deer spent some time wandering in the garden before disappearing into the adjacent woodland.
As the end of the month approached there were still a large number of young tits using the feeders and the house martins continued to visit the nest cups to feed the young. On the 23rd we had our last glimpse of a spotted flycatcher on the wires over the back garden. And at last there were very few butterflies around! It was also nice to see a single red admiral on the 26th and on the 26th I encountered the first sparrowhawk in the garden for ages as it whistled past me at head height in the big meadow! The weather continued to be damp but sunny at times and the month ended with few butterflies about and an empty porch until next year. A family party of long tailed tits was seen at the very end of the month and we entered September with hopefully a late brood of house martins on the way!