The Wildlife Garden in July

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July in my wildlife garden continued with the same warm, sunny weather we had experienced at the end of June without a cloud in the sky. All over the country hot, dry conditions were the norm and this inevitably had an effect on the wildlife in the garden here in South Shropshire. Many young birds from second broods came to feed in the garden, especially robins, blue tits, coal tits and great tits, plus young chaffinches and goldfinches were also plentiful.  Down at the wildlife pond the mallard ducklings continued to grow.

After a slow start earlier in the summer, butterflies were especially plentiful here throughout July with good numbers of a wide range of species. Green-veined whites were very common and there were plenty of other butterflies including comma, small tortoiseshell, peacock, red admiral, painted lady and for a while a single dark green fritillary.  Smaller species such as common blue and large and small skipper also began to appear in the mini-meadows, while meadow brown and ringlet were seen flitting over the long grasses in the orchard and the wildflower meadows. A single male brimstone was also observed feeding around the garden, especially on the purple loosestrife flowers around the big pond and in the bog garden.   Meadowsweet, lady’s bedstraw and wild carrot were in full, glorious, flower.brimstonewp  Towards the end of the second week a male blackcap began to sing again from a variety of spots on our boundaries but there was still no sign of either chiffchaff or willow warbler. Two young song thrushes visited the garden on the 15th and two mistle thrushes were also seen this week but

where larger bird species were concerned this month the garden was dominated by a family of magpies that had bred nearby, plus the usual wood pigeons were happily producing another brood.  A male yellowhammer sang daily from the top of the beech tree at the back of the house.

As we moved into the third week of July butterflies were still plentiful with fifteen species recorded this week, including several commas and painted ladies. Swifts, swallows and house martins swooped over the garden, taking the small invertebrates that were emerging from the big pond and the meadows, and a tawny owl was heard in the orchard on the evening of the 20th.  Bullfinches were frequently heard, but not often seen, in our little copse of trees.

As we approached the end of the July there was still no sign of rain. Bumblebee numbers, which had been very low in spring and early summer, increased noticeably, with a variety of species feeding on the plants in the nectar borders, especially on Echinops and small flowered foxgloves such as Digitalis ferruginea.  A nest of red-tailed bumblebeesbbwp was very active in its usual spot in the ground at the back of the house.  At the very end of the month a juvenile willow warbler was seen feeding on the tiny insects attracted to our buddleia – the first willow warbler seen or heard here for several years.  This bird was soon joined by two juvenile chiffchaffs and as the month ended, the buddleia became the focus of my wildlife watching with warblers, bumblebees, honeybees and eight regular butterfly species feeding from the flowers. With warm weather continuing I am hoping to see even more species, hopefully including hummingbird hawk-moth, feeding on the flowers of this wonderful shrub.

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The Wildlife Garden in June

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June was an exceptional month all over the UK in terms of the weather, and even the counties further west, including my own of Shropshire, experienced amazingly warm, sunny conditions. This affected the garden here quite profoundly – initially in a positive way as many wildflowers burst into bloom in the meadows and around the ponds, and meadow butterflies were seen in good numbers, but as the hot weather continued the meadow grasses quickly went to seed and there was a much more ‘late-summer’ feel to the whole garden even though it was only the middle of the year.

Throughout the whole month the garden was full of hundreds of common spotted orchids – in the meadows, the shorter lawn grass and also now in the borders. All these orchids have spread and established from a single sowing of 0.1 of a gram of seed inDSCN0107 2006!  They tend to make mowing the grassy areas that we keep short quite a challenge! In the spring many new plants are moved from the shorter mown grass areas and transplanted into the meadows where they continue to flower and spread extremely rapidly.

Dragonflies and damselflies of many different species began to appear around the big pond early in the month and the whole garden was soon alive with young birds, especially juveniles of tits and finches, making everything seem very busy. House sparrows are a rarity in this garden yet suddenly we had a small flock including six or seven youngsters.  Young blue tits, great tits and coal tits crowded around the feeders and the local woodpeckers continued to visit with the first juveniles appearing on the 10th of the month.  Yellowhammers continued to sing from the hedges and trees around the garden and a skylark also sang overhead every day as the clear warm weather continued.  The occasional red kite flew high over the garden, sometimes calling with its characteristic high pitched whistle.

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A pair of spotted flycatchers appeared for a few days, but after hunting for insects from their usual spots in the vegetable garden, inspecting the nest box, rearranging the nest material a little and laying one egg, they decided to move on which was a great shame.  Last year the spotted flycatcher nest was predated, possibly by woodpeckers, so it was no great surprise that they decided not to use this location again, but it was still a great disappointment as this is one of my favourite birds.

The warm weather continued into the last week of the month with the promise of even hotter temperatures to come. Oxeye daisies, meadow cranesbill, wild carrot, tufted vetch and lady’s bedstraw filled the orchard and other long grass areas, meadow brown and ringlet butterflies continued to be seen in good quantities and the lavender in the garden DSCN0307wparound the house attracted small tortoiseshell, painted lady, peacock, comma and red admiral butterflies, while our ‘mini-meadow’ areas had common blue and large skipper feeding on white clover.  As we moved towards July the garden seemed alive with wildlife. However the lack of bumblebees has been very obvious with only three nests in the garden so far – possibly as a result of the very cold,snowy weather here in February and March.  Hopefully bumblebee numbers will pick up in the next few weeks.

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The Wildlife Garden in May

 

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May was a very interesting month for wildlife in my garden but also inside my house!  A wood mouse found its way into a cupboard at the beginning of the month and returned twice after being caught and removed back in to the garden!  Eventually it was caught again and released a little further away in a nearby woodland, and is hopefully still living happily in its new environment.  Plenty of birds were seen around the garden including a pair of marsh tits, one of my favourite birds, plus a regular pair of yellowhammers and a male whitethroat which was singing daily over the vegetable garden and disappearing behind the rhubarb, where it is possible that a nest was located .

Butterflies were very apparent in the better weather, especially the orange tip which has been especially common this year. Brimstones too were around for much of the month feeding on a variety of flowers including the apple blossom in the orchard. However none were seen egg laying on our buckthorn shrubs which was unusual, as the eggs can normally be found quite easily.  Small whites, peacocks, and a single commaDSCN9662wp butterfly also began to visit the flowers in the sheltered garden at the back of the house.

As we moved through the month a chiff chaff was heard singing – a bird that is becoming scarcer here every year.   Also a couple of blackcaps, blackbirds and lots of wrens sang every day, making the garden quite a noisy place at times!  Wrens are very common in this garden generally nesting in the twig piles in our small copse of trees, but also in ‘roosting pockets’ or on a small ledge in the porch at the front of the house.

On the 15th the first dragonfly of the year was seen at the big pond.  A male broadBBchaser1788wp bodied chaser  raced around, alighting on tall reeds from time to time.  He was soon accompanied by a couple of other males and a lot of jousting went on between them as the females (right) started to emerge.   As we moved through the month more species of dragonfly and damselfly appeared at the pond, and other butterfly species including whites and small tortoiseshells began to take nectar from the flowers in the borders.

Prominent flowers in the wilder parts of the garden this month were oxeye daisies with its masses of white blossoms, plus the common spotted orchids began to flower in the bigger meadows. Several pairs of blue tits took advantage of the small insects feeding on these plants, taking them back to their growing broods in our bird boxes.

The month ended with rather more unsettled weather and spectacular thunder storms affected the whole of the southern part of the UK. Luckily our meadows were not badly affected by the torrential rain but the storms certainly kept the big pond well topped up.  June began with sunny warmer conditions with hopefully more to come.

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The Wildlife Garden in April

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After a very cold and miserable March, April began with an improvement in the weather in South Shropshire providing a few quite sunny afternoons. There were still plenty of finches using the bird feeders – goldfinches, greenfinches, siskins and a single lesser redpoll.  On the 3rd of the month a willow tit showed up – always an exciting moment here.  It was only seen feeding for a short time but gave me hope that this lovely little bird, which I hadn’t see here for several months, might still be around my garden if only from time to time. Later in the month a pair of marsh tits (picture of one above) also appeared on the feeders – the first time I have seen this species here for many months.  They have bred in the garden before and this pair was seen courtship feeding, so my hopes are high for a successful nest again.

As we moved into the second week of April our first migrant bird was heard – a blackcap singing in all the usual places, making me suspect that it is the same bird that nested here last year. Usually it is a chiff chaff that we see and hear first, but they seem few and far between around us so far this year. Our male blackcap continued to sing around the garden perimeter for the rest of the month, along with plenty of wrens, dunnocks, blackbirds and robins.

The initial good weather at the start of the month was not to last and changed yet again – back to cold and dank with no sign of the sun for several days. A pair of red-legged partridges took up residence in the garden, the male calling loudly from various locations while the female pottered about in the borders.  This species has bred in the garden several times so hopefully we might see breeding success again this year.  In the middle of the month the weather changed yet again.  It was still cool but at least it was sunny! A few butterflies DSCN9607appeared including the usual tatty peacocks and small tortoiseshells searching for nectar, although as a result of the very cold spring so far, there were few dandelions in flower for them to feed on.  The weather continued to slowly improve  and soon the cowslip meadow was in full flower, plus the marsh marigolds around the big pond also burst into bloom to brighten the garden. Oak Beauty0897

I am very fortunate to have oak woodland adjacent to my garden and it is a great source of interesting wildlife that finds its way into the garden from time to time. This month the moth trap produced a few new species including the beautiful Oak Beauty moth – a stunning moth that I have been expecting to see here, but have not caught until this year.  The month ended with a short trip to the Pembrokeshire coast where the wildlife highlights were choughs and gannets and sedge and red warblers sang in the coastal reed beds.

I returned home to find a pair of mallard in the garden with, miraculously, thirteen newly hatched youngsters!  The nest was only revealed after the ducklings had left it as it was very well camouflaged in reeds on the edge of the big pond.

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The Wildlife Garden in March

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The beginning of March saw me still snowed in to the small valley in South Devon where I had been having a brief holiday, which turned into an extended stay! It was just about the worst weather I had seen for a long time but the good news was that the garden surrounding the cottage where I was staying was full of birds feeding, thanks to a supply of bird food there, and several marsh tits amongst the commoner species were a delight to see.  The small stream running through the property continued to give me the opportunity to see the resident dipper and as weather improved slightly primroses and celandines in flower emerged from under the melting snow.

Even though the snow began to melt in Devon, my own home was still completely inaccessible with snow drifts filling the small country lanes round about, so I was stuck in the south for a further week. On my eventual return I found that huge numbers ofDSCN0976s goldfinches and siskins were still feeding avidly on the bird feeders and a few fieldfares had returned and were busy eating the remaining few apples under the orchard trees.

As we moved into the second week of the month the weather in Shropshire warmed up slightly and a second batch of frogspawn appeared in the smaller of my wildlife ponds. Siskins, the loveliest of the finches in my opinion, were continuing to feed around the garden in huge numbers and several of the males were singing beautifully, along with a local song thrush.  By the time we reached the middle of the month, although the weather was still very cold, it was at least bright and sunny and frogs could be heard croaking in both garden ponds as spawning continued which, together with the bird song, made the garden seem quite noisy.  Towards the end of the second week of the month a brambling, another lovely finch we see when the weather is cold, was feeding along with the chaffinches on the ground under the bird feeders and as the freezing weather continued several more bramblings appeared in the garden including one male approaching breeding plumage.

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The weather warmed a little more as we moved through March although at times it was very windy here plus a more snow fell. Finches continued to dominate the feeders and several lesser redpolls joined the goldfinches and siskins, mainly feeding on nyger seed.  As the last week of the month arrived there was bright but cold sunshine and an unusual bird for this garden – a house sparrow – appeared around the feeders plus several greenfinches, also quite unusual birds here, were visiting daily.  As usual the buzzardblogconcentration of small birds in the garden meant that a sparrowhawk flew through from time to time and one of the local buzzards took to hanging around lazily on our hedge – doing nothing in particular.  No mammals, other than the inevitable grey squirrels, were seen all month.

By the end of March the weather was certainly a little warmer and spring-like and our primroses were flowering beautifully in several places around the garden. Once established this lovely spring wildflower spreads very quickly here giving the appearance of spring, even if the temperatures and the snow at the end of the month made it feel more like winter!  Hopefully April will bring warmer weather and a few spring migrants.

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The Wildlife Garden in February

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As usual for the time of year my garden wildlife diary for February seemed to be dominated by the weather, and with good reason! At first the mild conditions at the start of the month here lulled me into a false sense of security as snowdrops and even primroses burst into bloom all over the garden, and outside the garden too as the snowdrops have escaped onto the grass DSCN0025verge, and our flowering currant had promising buds swelling. Daffodil leaves were lengthening daily and fieldfares had all but disappeared in the mild conditions. The majority of fallen apples had been eaten but a few remaining fieldfares were still foraging for invertebrates in the field next door. The garden bird feeders were dominated by large numbers of blue tits, goldfinches and a flock of longtailed tits, plus a gang of chaffinches picked up dropped seeds beneath the feeders.  Robins were starting to sing around the garden and a handsome male reed bunting was seen perched amongst the dead stems of golden rod in one of the borders on the 7th.

Siskin numbers began to build up in the second week of February. This pleased me enormously as siskins are my absolute favourite finch and possibly my favourite garden visitor with the exception of spotted flycatchers. Six or seven of these bright little birds were squabbling with the goldfinches for a spot on the nyger feeders and as the numbers of both these finches built up we put out more feeders to accommodate them.  Males of both siskins and goldfinches started to twitter and sing around the garden and as numbers continued to increase the twittering became very obvious every time I ventured outside. As we moved through the second week of the month the weather deteriorated and there was heavy snow on the Long Mynd to the west, plus a little in the garden.  Temperatures dropped and it became very windy.  Siskin number went up to twenty birds and goldfinch numbers also increased. FebindexsiskinThe third week of the month saw the siskin flock became even larger – more than fifty birds were counted on the feeders, on spilt food below, and in our boundary trees and the noise of their twittering was extraordinary.  Through this week several buzzards visited the garden, usually hanging around in the sheltered lower branches of our beech tree, or sometimes in the hazels on the bank.  On the 19th three mallard took refuge from the increasingly bad weather on our sheltered pond but temperatures increased again on the 20th.  We awoke to a song thrush singing from our copse and a heron visited the big pond – the first we have seen here for a while. The siskins continued to sing from the hazel outside my office door and celandines burst into flower on the banks and under the hedges.  Our first frog spawn appeared in the marshy pond on the 22nd.

On the 23rd I travelled to South Devon for work, expecting the occasional walk in earlyDSCN0194s spring sunshine. This could not have been further from reality as freezing weather from the east met storm Emma from the Atlantic and for several days I was snowed in to the small, steep Devon valley where I was staying .  Feeding the birds though provided a great deal of interest as marsh tits, coal tits, chaffinches and house sparrows were joined by other less usual species including a meadow pipit! Tawny owls hooted around the area at night and a green woodpecker was heard frequently – a bird we have seen only once in our Shropshire garden. Short walks though the ice and snow revealed great views of a dipper in the local stream and goldcrests were feeding in a nearby holly hedge.

I was eventually able to return home to Shropshire on the 6th of March where there were still snow drifts in the garden and several days later our narrow lane remains completely blocked one way. I am looking forward to warmer weather!

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The Wildlife Garden in January

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In the first week of January there is always a glimmer of hope in my mind that I might soon see or hear a hint of the spring ahead. Here in South Shropshire our January weather alternated between clear and cold or mild and damp, and plenty of small birds, especially tits and finches, were using the feeders. Goldfinches frequently left the nyger seeds to find food on the lavender in the borders or on the docks in the hedges. At the end of the first week the goldfinches were joined by a couple of bright yellow siskins – my favourite finch by far. With a surfeit of apples still lying around under the orchard trees, fieldfares continued to be regular visitors, together with a gang of male blackbirds. A single brambling appeared on the feeders on the 12th. DSCN4512blog2

Where mammals were concerned in the garden this month there were very few sightings, just the familiar mole hills around the grassy areas and grey squirrels, including our resident ‘bobtailed’ individual gathering up spilt food from the bird feeders. A single buzzard visited the garden frequently, often perching on the back of one of the garden seats and the local gang of long-tailed tits polished off the suet blocks at an alarming rate.  Jays continued to dig up the acorns they buried here in the autumn.

The second week of the month was cold and dank but this miserable weather brought even more birds to the garden including a flock of around forty linnets on a couple of occasions, both to feed on natural seeds, especially water mint, and to drink from the small marshy pond. The fieldfare flock built up again to about thirty five birds especially on frosty mornings, and on the 11th of the month a great tit was heard singing – a fantastic sound!  Catkins were lengthening beautifully in the hazels around the garden – a real sign of spring.

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More snow arrived on the 20th which was inevitable, but it didn’t last long although the weather continued to be very cold. It was wonderful to see a kestrel hovering in our area on the 21st  – the first I have seen here for more than a year.  Red kites, crows and buzzards continued to dominate the sky over the garden with the occasional raven also flying over.  I spent the last week of the month working on the Isle of Anglesey. The DSCN9572gardens there were a little more advanced than mine with snowdrops and crocuses in flower, but the highlight as usual were the red squirrels which were easy to see at various garden feeding stations. It was also good to see plenty of house sparrows around the local area there – birds that I rarely see in my own garden now.  A visit to South Stack gave us a fantastic opportunity to watch the choughs there, some of which have now learned to use the bird feeders.  The month ended with some brighter weather back in South Shropshire with hazel catkins fully open and great views of a male bullfinch feeding on the buds of hawthorn in the garden.

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The Wildlife Garden in December

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December was a very cold month in my South Shropshire garden with plenty of snow and frost. The weather brought large numbers of birds to the feeders and the orchard, while goldfinches fed on the seeds of lavender and teasel. The lavender in particular is left uncut after flowering and the seeds never fail to bring a small flock of these lovely birds close to the house windows – perfect for photographing them.

DSCN1542 (2)There was snow in the first week here but with windy weather conditions only a little snow actually settled.   Even so this did give me the opportunity to look at footprints of birds and mammals around the garden, especially when yet more snow continued to fall.  A fox was visiting every night, often taking a walk to the big wildlife pond for a drink, plus footprints of a rabbit were rather a surprise as we didn’t know this mammal was around in the garden at the moment. Lots more snow arrived over the night of the 7th and effectively snowed us in – our narrow steep single track road seems to trap snow and generally it doesn’t thaw until temperatures rise considerably!

The snow persisted for the next week and feeding the birds in these wintery conditions was a priority. Large numbers of great tits, blue tits and a couple of coal tits visited the sunflower hearts and there was a small flock of long-tailed tits feeding on the fat blocks, with tails poking out at all angles! There were fewer thrushes than in previous weeks with just a handful of fieldfares remaining under the apple trees and no redwings at all. DSCN1526wpBlackbirds however were feeding avidly on the berries of various shrubs around the house.

As we moved into the third week of the month the weather was overcast and cold. The garden at the back of the house was dominated by a gang up to fourteen squabbling male blackbirds. Around twenty goldfinches were using the nyjer feeders and the whole garden seemed to be full of tits, chaffinches and dunnocks, plus a few robins chasing each other about. The field next to my garden had a large flock of jackdaws and rooks feeding.  The rook is one of my favourite birds and I was pleased that one came into the garden this week to probe its huge beak into the short grass around the wildflower meadows.  Kites and buzzards flew over the garden regularly, the former becoming ever more numerous in our area.

The snow had completely melted by the 18th and the weather became quite mild compared to the last few weeks. It was good to see a couple of siskins and a lesser redpoll on the feeders this week and the local female sparrowhawk continued to visit. Rain dominated the weather here in the last week of January although snow was still visible on the Long Mynd where temperatures were considerably colder.

Hawfinch2569cropThis winter has brought an amazing number of hawfinches to the UK and with a flock of about 40 in my local area it was inevitable that I would visit several times to see them. Twice this bird has been been seen in my garden – once feeding in the company of a small flock of chaffinches and also another which managed to fly into one of my windows and sadly died. I am looking out for hawfinches here in the hope that this most beautiful of the finches might come looking for food in my garden sometime soon.

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The Wildlife Garden in November

DSCN1368dAs we moved into November the weather began to turn frosty and cold, making this month yet another good one for birds in my garden in South Shropshire. An influx of pheasants at the very start of the month signalled the beginning of the local pheasant shoot as the oak woodland on my boundary is managed to provide shelter for them and, inadvertently, for lots of our local wildlife too. The pheasants seem to know there is safety in my garden and numbers can build up to fifteen or so, feeding under the bird feeders and the apple trees in the orchard.

Fieldfares and redwings were numerous throughout November with about forty fieldfares and sixteen redwings feeding around the garden at the beginning of the month, although the majority of the redwings moved on as soon as they had devoured all the holly berries. The fieldfares, charismatic and argumentative birds, spent their time between the orchard trees and a large Bramley apple tree at the back of the house, although they also scoured the short grass around the garden for invertebrates from time to time.  One bird in particular remained when the flock flew off to feed elsewhereDSCN0734 and fought off all-comers of any species in the usual aggressive manner of this large thrush.  Elsewhere the bird feeders were extremely busy as goldfinches, chaffinches, tits, nuthatches and woodpeckers took advantage of a regular and reliable food supply.  However neither marsh tit nor willow tit was seen at all this month although coal tits were numerous. A single mistle thrush was recorded on the 2nd – the first for many months.

Goldfinch numbers continued to build up as the month progressed with a maximum of sixteen on most days. There were regular visits from the local female sparrowhawk and a surprise male house sparrow, a species last recorded here in early July, fed beneath the feeders outside my office on two days.

A week away from home meant that the garden was almost devoid of birds when I returned, with the exception of those species that rely on natural food – mainly the thrushes and blackbirds but also wrens which are always abundant in the garden. A DSCN1345cflock of sixteen long-tailed tits used the fat blocks frequently, and there was a surprise visit from a small flock of starlings, another bird we hardly ever see here, which was a highlight at the end of the month. Red kites soared above the garden in all weathers while our usual buzzards were less obvious.

There were very few sightings of mammals here in November but tracks through longer grass areas showed that a fox was a regular visitor. Grey squirrels were seen daily including one individual with the majority of its tail missing!  How the rest of the tail disappeared is anyone’s guess. He is though, easily identifiable, and it will be interesting to see how he uses the garden and where we see him over the next few months.

We are now in the midst of very wintery weather but even in November there were signs of the seasons ahead. Catkins were beginning to fill out on our hedgerow hazels with the promise of spring and better weather to look forward to.

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The Wildlife Garden in October

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October began in my South Shropshire garden with large numbers of birds returning to the bird feeders as night time temperatures dropped. Long-tailed tits, goldfinches, nuthatches and woodpeckers joined the regular chaffinches, blue tits and great tits to feed on sunflower hearts, nyjer seed and peanuts.  Around the garden jays visited daily, usually clutching an acorn from the oak woodland next door, which was promptly buried in the lawn somewhere.  A single chiff chaff was seen on the 1st of the month.

Daytime temperatures were good during the first week of the month and several red admirals were still feeding in the borders and around the vegetable garden, where Verbena bonariensis and cosmos were continuing to flower. Single-flowered dahliasDSCN0512wp were also attracting butterflies and bumblebees, the latter also visiting late flowering borage.

As we moved into the second week of the month there was little change in the mild temperatures. A treecreeper was seen several times foraging on the bark of our oldest apple tree which has deeply fissured bark covered with lichens, and several coal tits joined the other species at the bird feeders. The orchard, planted when we moved here twelve years ago, has matured quickly and many of the trees have a huge crop this year.  Plenty are left for the birds especially the winter thrushes and blue tits were already feeding on the soft early varieties such as Discovery.DSCN0654wp

One new moth species was recorded for the garden in the moth trap this month – the stunning Merveille du Jour – one of my favourite species. Five individuals of this species were caught on the night of the 12th/ 13th. One was ‘rescued’ from a hungry wren!

Hurricane Ophelia hit us with a vengeance on the 16th but fortunately there was no damage to the garden or to local trees. Temperatures continued to be mild but variable through the third week and there was a little rain at times.  The local willow tit returned to the feeders this week after a two week absence and was seen daily.  With so much bird activity in the garden it was inevitable that a sparrowhawk would become a regular visitor.  This large female began to make frequent visits, often perching on the bird feeders outside my office.  Towards the end of the month small flocks of redwings and fieldfares began to visit the garden, firstly to feast on the holly berries in the hedge which quickly disappeared, and then for the large quantities of apples in the orchard, both in the trees and on the ground. The mature hawthorn trees on our garden boundary also provided these birds with food and as usual they were noisy and quarrelsome. Frosty nights at the end of the month brought even more of these thrushes, plus one mistle thrush – not seen here since the spring.

DSCN0913wpSigns of mammals in the garden this month included hedgehog droppings in the cut meadow and fox tracks through the long grass in the orchard. A weasel was seen briefly running past the French doors of my office and towards the end of the month a wood mouse was watched every evening, feeding on a small bird feeding tray outside the kitchen door which is on the second floor. This means that to reach the food on the tray the wood mouse has to climb up wooden cladding and then the stems of a Clematis in order to reach the food! Once there it was oblivious of the outside light and us watching!

The month ended with a very heavy frost overnight on the 29th/30th but daytime temperatures were still high enough to tempt a red admiral to sunbathe on the house wall.

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