Archive for nature

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.

Spring at Butts Piece

Posted in "Butts Piece", birds, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on 21 March 2017 by bramblejungle

Moth-eaten comfrey

The scarlet tigers have started early: not many caterpillars are visible just after a shower, but the comfrey is already looking distinctly moth-eaten
Scarlet tiger moth caterpillar
There is frogspawn in the nearby brook: with luck the frogs will help to keep slugs down on the allotments
Frogspawn in the brook

but (not so good for the allotments) there are plenty of rabbits Rabbit at Butts Piece
This buzzard may help
Watching the rabbit

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

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)

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