The weather was rather dull and overcast at the start of the first week of the May here in South Shropshire, but thankfully some brighter sunny weather came along. However it was all change again on the 9th – overcast, cool and windy with some rain forecast although this will be welcome as the garden is very dry indeed. Siskins were still with us and blackcap and chiffchaff were both singing well around the garden and from the woodland next door, plus a whitethroat sang daily from the field maple at the end of the garden. A song thrush too was singing every day and a distant mistle thrush was also heard regularly. The moorhens were still using the big pond and male and female brimstone butterflies were recorded in the garden, plus a single holly blue was also seen. A wrens’ nest in the back garden at the base of our big hawthorn was very busy, with an adult obviously feeding young and a blackbird nest near the potting shed was constantly being visited by a male with food. Bluebells and stitchwort were beautifully in flower in our little piece of woodland and robins were seen taking food to a nest somewhere in the orchard.
Bluebells in the garden!
The second week of the month started with a few lovely warm, dry days. Several brimstone butterflies were still around the garden and bugle was flowering well in the damp areas close to the big pond, plus cow parsley was looking lovely I some of the shadier meadows. The weather became very cool on the 12th but the brimstones were still flying and orange tips were abundant in spite of the variable weather conditions. Blue tits were now feeding a brood in a nest box on the side of the potting shed and great tits were using a box on the side of the house. The Big Meadow was growing fast – a mixture of mainly Phleum and Holcus grasses plus lots of buttercups this year so quite a different mix of species from previous years. The swallows with the nest in the porch at the front of the house were very active but I was not sure if they were laying. The Big Pond was quiet but the moorhens were laying again as their nest was predated by crows. Three dunnocks were very busy in the garden and a kestrel was seen hovering over the Big Meadow on the 14th.
Young Moorhen waiting to be fed
The third week of May saw plenty of orange tips and brimstones still around the garden. All our usual birds including siskins were still with us and a single bank vole was seen most days underneath the bird feeder outside my window. A pair of bluetits was busy taking food to the nest box on the potting shed and finding plenty of food around the garden for the chicks. At the back of the house the garden was full of cow parsley which looked wonderful. On the 16th a single comma butterfly was seen but in general butterflies were still rather scarce. The song thrush was singing again and a pair of red-legged partridges arrived in the garden on the 17th and a whitethroat singing and seen in the long garden. Blackcap, chiffchaff and whitethroat were singing every day which was wonderful and a male house sparrow appeared in the garden on the 18th which is always a pleasure here! Around the big pond there were several beautiful demoiselles but no other dragonflies were seen.
The last week of May saw cool and overcast weather. On the morning of the 23rd an adult treecreeper, with recently fledged young, was seen in the big hawthorn tree on the border of my vegetable garden – a wonderful thing to witness as they had obviously just left the nest. The first swifts of the summer were seen over the garden on the 23rd and later a good number of house martins. Even more were seen the following day. On the 26th the first common spotted orchid was seen in flower and a speckled wood butterfly roamed the fruit garden, plus a male brimstone fluttered around the alder buckthorn. A few damsel flies began to appear around the big pond and a mallard with several ducklings also appeared as if from nowhere! Thankfully they exited the garden via a hole in the fence to occupy the luxury of the large pond in the field next door, rather than occupying more cramped conditions in my garden! The month ended a little much needed rain but certainly not as much as we need.