A bad year for butterflies

Posted in "red kite", birds, garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , on 19 August 2016 by bramblejungle

The wettest June recently recorded has been followed locally by low numbers of butterflies, especially small tortoiseshell and peacock. Butterfly Conservation will have a better view of the national picture when they collate the results of the annual count.

Ringlets seem to be an exception, and were doing well in early July

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)

Later there were marbled whites on their usual nectar sources (knapweed and thistles)

Marbled White (Melanargia galathea)

There have been one or two red admirals

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

and the occasional peacock, but not the usual numbers.

Peacock (Aglais io)

It’s not all bad news: garden birds have been breeding well, the starling colony is still here, and the skies have been full of swifts, house martins and swallows

Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Red kites are thriving
Red kite (Milvus milvus)

and ravens – once confined to the western fringes of the UK because of persecution and perhaps pesticides – have made a welcome return.

Raven (Corvus corax)

How many starlings can you get in a bird-bath?

Posted in birds, garden, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on 4 July 2016 by bramblejungle

Starlings

This group of mostly juvenile starlings have been regularly bathing and drinking here for some time now, with so much splashing that I need to use a hose to keep re-filling the bird-bath from a nearby water butt.  They obviously need water, but I’m not sure why they prefer a crowded dustbin lid to any other local source.

Scarlet Tigers – annual update

Posted in "Butts Piece", insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , on 26 June 2016 by bramblejungle

Despite a wet June, the Scarlet Tigers are back; not many yet, but there’s plenty of comfey (buzzing with bumblebees when it’s not raining) if any more emerge. Meanwhile these two are working on next year’s population.

Scarlet tiger mothsstm graph1

Spring at last

Posted in "Butts Piece", bumblebee, garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife on 12 April 2016 by bramblejungle

Despite heavy showers, spring is well under way and the usual signs – nesting birds, solitary bees, ladybirds, caterpillars… are everywhere:
Definitely Spring
Common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum) 7-spot ladybird
Scarlet tigers doing well

Garden birdwatch 2016

Posted in garden, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on 31 January 2016 by bramblejungle

Annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch again (search the blog for “birdwatch” for previous years’ results).
Big Garden Birdwatch 2016

Click the image for full view with key

As usual an hour’s counting, even at the same time of day each year, can only produce a limited picture: starlings, coal tits, long-tailed tits, goldfinches etc come and go during the day and may or (more often) may not show up on cue. The real story will emerge when the RSPB collate the results from half a million or so gardens.

The good news is that the resident house sparrows are still here; the effect of this unusually warm winter probably won’t be evident till next year, when any changes in breeding patterns and over-wintering survival can be seen.

Kestrel

Posted in "Butts Piece", birds, flight, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , on 24 January 2016 by bramblejungle

I was lucky to see a kestrel hunting from an electricity pole:

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Flying and stooping from height (click the images for the full picture)
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

and hovering low (though I didn’t see a successful hunt)

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Not much of a summer…

Posted in "Butts Piece", birds, goldfinch, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , , on 17 September 2015 by bramblejungle

…with rubbish weather (remember the August bank holiday?) and smaller numbers of butterflies than usual

Green-veined White (Pieris napi)
Big Butterfly Count part 1
Big Butterfly Count part 2 - Butts Piece
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), f.

but breeding conditions for garden birds (blackbirds, robins etc) seem to have been good, and the local goldfinches are thriving.
Goldfinches

On a sunny September day, a late red admiral may be a good sign:
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
We’ll have to see what Autumn brings. More rain, probably.

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