Archive for the garden Category

Two months later…

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , , , on 3 June 2017 by bramblejungle

… and the “meadow” has transformed into a (planned) wilderness: the hawksbeard (rough or beaked, I’m not sure) is over a metre high, yellow rattle is everywhere, corncockles are just starting to flower and there is white clover, cut-leaf cranesbill and a host of other plants I haven’t identified yet, plus a few I could manage without – like meadow bindweed and cleavers. The marjoram and tufted vetch are doing well, but haven’t flowered yet.

Hawksbeard

Oxeye daisy Yellow rattle

Corncockle

Meanwhile there are more bumblebees than I’ve ever seen in the Cotoneaster and Buddleia globosa – there must be Bombus hypnorum (amongst others) nesting nearby, and I’ve seen the first – of many, I hope – small tortoiseshells today.

Small tortoiseshell

Rain next week!

Spring in the meadow

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on 25 March 2017 by bramblejungle

OK, it’s not really a meadow – just a bit of grass that only gets mown twice a year, and contains mostly weeds wildflowers (yellow rattle, corncockle, marjoram, hawkbit…). As soon as things start to warm up the Tawny Mining Bees appear

Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva)

(males usually emerge before females, but they are harder to spot) Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva), m
along with predatory cuckoo bees
Cuckoo bee (Nomada sp.)

and bee-flies

Bee-fly (Bombylius major)

As in previous years I’m hoping for other solitary bees later, and if there’s anything to report I’ll send the info to the solitary bee project.

Garden Birdwatch 2017

Posted in birds, garden, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags on 29 January 2017 by bramblejungle

Big Garden Birdwatch 2017

Another RSPB annual birdwatch, and no major changes here despite periods of abnormally cold/wet/dry weather  (click the graph for full view in Flickr). Sadly there’s no sign of waxwings, and the woodpecker that’s been visiting almost daily since October has presumably found better things to do as Spring approaches.

Still here

Luckily the local sparrowhawk didn’t appear during the count.

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

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.

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.

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