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.

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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.

Scarlet Tigers – annual update

Posted in "Butts Piece", insects, oxfordshire with tags , , , , on 27 June 2015 by bramblejungle

Scarlet Tiger (Callimorpha dominula)

The addition of a few trees at the site doesn’t seem to have reduced the extent of the comfrey or the numbers of scarlet tigers, which are beginning to appear in significant numbers; the first I saw this year was on 22 June. Larvae and adults are following the usual pattern: larvae from late March, adults as soon as the weather is warm after mid June. Without more accurate observations and other data – soil temperature, for example – I can’t deduce much except for the obvious effect of 2013’s cold spring, but I’ll keep an eye on them.
Scarlet tigers - data

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