Archive for wildlife

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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The Wildflower Meadow

Posted in garden, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , on 7 August 2009 by bramblejungle

What could be better than not mowing the lawn? The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust have some advice on turning a grassy area into a wildflower meadow, starting with “Let it grow during the summer to see what turns up”, so I stopped mowing at the end of May and waited to see what happened. The results were not too encouraging: several ant-hills, a lot of white clover (great for bumble-bees), daisies, buttercups, numerous tall yellow-flowered weeds (with hundreds of hover-flies), quite a lot of Self-heal. There were a couple of surprises – Ragwort (I hoped that this would bring Cinnabar moths, but so far it’s only produced tiny Ragwort flea beetles), and Sea Holly (full of pollen beetles) – presumably a garden escape. Still, at least I don’t have to mow it again until September.
Meadow
The hedges are doing better, with White Bryony and Woody Nightshade making an appearance,
White Bryony (Bryonia dioica)
Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)
along with Dwarf Mallow on the path
Dwarf Mallow (Malva neglecta)

300 species

Posted in birds, garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on 6 July 2009 by bramblejungle

This will never be a complete catalogue of the area’s wildlife, but even after 15 months or so I’m finding species that I haven’t identified before: partly I guess because I’m getting better at finding them, and partly because most species are seasonal, and you need a year or two to cover the ground. The 300th species is nothing exceptional – a Lesser Yellow Underwing moth – just one of the 74 different moths I’ve found in my small patch.

Over time the picture may change, and I hope to be able to report those changes. So far the Harlequin ladybird is here in large numbers, but hasn’t yet displaced the local 7-spot and 10-spot types; other species in national decline (hedgehog, starling, house-sparrow…) seem to be doing well locally. Climate change and introduced species will make their mark, but I can only hope that the impact on the diversity of local wildlife of human activity – like the expansion of Didcot – will be limited .

Here’s no. 300:

Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes)

Arachnids

Posted in garden, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , , , , on 9 October 2008 by bramblejungle

A late-night look at the garden produced a pair of (perhaps) ground spiders, and several harvestmen of various kinds – along with the usual slugs, snails, earwigs, woodlice, and innumerable garden spiders.

Approach with cautionFurry spider

Short-legged harvestmanShort-legged harvestman

Harvestman

Snails

Posted in garden, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , on 5 October 2008 by bramblejungle

I always thought there were two kinds of snail: the sort that eats cabbages, and the sort you eat with loads of garlic butter. Looking a bit closer, they are quite attractive creatures, and all different. Of course they eat vegetation (so do we) – but they also provide a food source for various birds and mammals, so I don’t mind them unless they threaten to take over the garden. Here are some I’ve found within a few metres of the front door:

SnailSnail
SnailTiny snail (close-up)
Round snailGreat weather for ducks

White-lipped snail (cepaea hortensis)Green cross code

Attacked from the air

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , on 5 October 2008 by bramblejungle

It’s relatively easy to defend vegetables from slugs and snails by growing them in pots: but they can still be attacked from the air – in this case a small white butterfly. The resulting caterpillars haven’t left much of this pak choi leaf!

All-weather defoliant

Spiders again

Posted in garden, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , on 30 September 2008 by bramblejungle

September is a good time for spiders, but this year they seem to be everywhere – garden spiders of varying sizes hanging from plants, sheet-web spiders in the grass, hunting and jumping spiders in the porch…. Luckily I like them: as far as I know there are no dangerous spiders in the UK, and they all have individual characteristics. Here are a couple I’d never seen before (with thanks to the experts on Flickr who identified them for me):

Nigma walckenaeri, a little green spider that spins a fine woolly web across a leaf and hides behind it waiting for lunch to turn up:

In hiding

and Nuctenea umbratica (aka crevice spider or walnut orb weaver) – a nocturnal spider that usually spends the day out of sight – I spotted this one under the outside lights at 10:30 pm:

After dark

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