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.


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.

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


Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , , , on 6 June 2015 by bramblejungle

I’ve been trying to identify as many local species of wildlife as I can; some are camera-shy or nocturnal (owls, rural foxes…) and others just haven’t turned up at the right time yet (pheasant, roe deer….)

Here are numbers 600, 601 and 602 – only a couple of thousand to go.

Not the most interesting creature: this small caterpillar on the lid of the garden waste bin didn’t merit a “600th species” post. I think it’s the larva of the mouse moth, Amphipyra tragopoginis.

Mouse Moth (Amphipyra tragopoginis) larva

This was more interesting: I spotted what I thought at first was a pied shieldbug, but it turned out to be a Brassica Bug (Eurydema oleracea).

Brassica Shieldbug (Eurydema oleracea)

That makes 10 shieldbugs so far: here they are on Flickr

I thought this was a common blue damselfly, but a close look at the markings says it’s an Azure Damselfly, Coenagrion puella – would have been a nice no. 600!

Azure damselfly (Coenagrion puella)

A good year for solitary bees?

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , , , on 29 April 2015 by bramblejungle

Well, so far anyway. The Tawny mining bees (Andrena fulva) Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva) emerged from the lawn, creating the usual mini-volcanoes, a couple of weeks ago, and they have now been joined by Red mason bees (Osmia bicornis), Red mason bee (Osmia bicornis) Early mining bees (Andrena haemorrhoa), [update – I gather this is A. nitida not A. haemorrhoa] Mining bee (Andrena haemorrhoa?) Chocolate mining bees (Andrena carantonica), Mining bee - Andrena carantonica Grey mining bees (Andrena cineraria), Grey mining bee (Andrena cineraria) and others that I can’t identify.

On schedule

Posted in "Butts Piece", garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , , , , on 14 April 2015 by bramblejungle

This is looking like a “normal” Spring (if there is such a thing), with chiffchaffs, blackthorn blossom and tawny mining bees all appearing as usual.
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)

Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva)

Over-wintering butterflies have emerged


but there have been a couple of surprises:  Small White butterflies usually appear in May, but quite a few are already in evidence
Small White (Pieris rapae)
and Red Admirals don’t usually over-winter here, but migrate to the UK in significant numbers from May onwards. This one was spotted on 9 April.
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

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