Thursday, 17 August 2017

Hedgehog visitor

I once saw hedgehogs quite frequently in and around my garden but I have not seen one for many year (just the occasional road casualty).

So I was really pleased to see this hedgehog on our front garden last night. It was sitting in the lawn looking towards the house.
My wife took out some cat food and the hedgehog came over a eat some of the cat food before heading off into the over-gown flower border in search of some tasty invertebrates.

Hedgehogs have declined drastically and while the exact reason is unknown intensification of agriculture, roads, pesticides and tidy gardens may all play a part. As with many species declines its often a mixture causes.

Connectivity of habitats is also important, even more so for hedgehogs as they may roam 1-2 km in a single night. Our neighbours have had a hedgehog family in their garden for a while. After 8 weeks the young are left to fend for themselves and this is likely to be one of the young hogs.

If you put food out, hedgehogs tend to visit for a top up and still feed on the natural food - so its not a problem. Avoid fish based catfoods as it can give hedgehogs diarrhoea. You can also add meal worm and other tasty treats as hedgehogs are omnivores. You can also provide a bowl of water as drinking water is often hard to find.

While hedgehogs can swim well, if they fall in a swimming pool or raised pond with no area to climb out, a hedgehog will eventually become exhausted and drown. An untidy overgrown area is also perfect for a hedgehog to visit on its travels.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Brickfield Nature Reserve bug hunt

Helped out again at the Friends of Brickfield Nature Reserve fun day event in conjunction with the Lewes Ranger Thyone.

Sadly extreme windy weather meant we had to abandon putting up the marquee which meant we were unable to use the usb cams to project collected invertebrates onto a tv screen.

Even with the poor weather lots of people turned up for the event.
We also collected some creatures from the onsite pond which included mayfly nymph, damselfly nymph, water boatman, juvenile newts etc.

We shared lots of interesting facts about the animals, such as how water boatman have an air bubble for breathing underwater and that they can fly to another pond.

The newt tadpoles were popular and we discussed their gills, how they develop front legs first, that they hunt small prey items such as daphnia and how adult news lay eggs singularly under leaves of pond vegetation.

The main part of the event was the bug hunt. We handed out pots and containers for people to collect creatures and bring them back to be identified and learn something about the animal they had found.
These included bumble bees, woodlouse, 24 and 7 spot ladybird, speckled wood butterflies, spiders, ground beetle, frog hopper, garden snail and much more.


We also found Kentish snails, a black snail beetle, a digger wasp, a nursery web spider, common blue butterflies, cone head grasshopper, red soldier beetle, thick knee flower beetle, common carder bees and yellow field ants.


Despite the weather the day was a great success.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Dragonflies emerging from our garden pond

A busy day and grabbed a coffee to chill our by our garden pond for a while - just in time to see 3 dragonflies Sympetrum striolatum emerge.
Large red damselflies always emerge from our pond each year and after discovering dragonfly nymphs in the pond for the first time last year - pleased to see adults emerge.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Emerging dragonflies

Dragonflies have started to emerge from our garden pond. There are a lot of dragonfly nymphs this year of varying sizes, some very small and will probably emerge next year.
They climb out of the water, up the marginal vegetation. The skin splits and they emerge as a winged adult, leaving behing the nymph skin (called the exuvia).


The damselflies emerged in a similar way earlier in the year.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Ringlet butterfly and other garden visitors

The sunny weather has been ideal for butterfly watching and as usual we have had several species visit our garden this year.
The most recent was a comma butterfly last Saturday.


One of the most recent and uncommon visitor to our garden is the ringlet butterfly.
This one is feeding on the blackberry flowers next to our pond.


The most common visitor is the speckled wood and then red admiral and then gatekeeper. A few small tortoiseshell and this year only a few painted lady so far (back in May) but maybe more to come from the second generation.


Small white butterflies are also fairly common visitors. Out of the blue butterflies (that settle) the holly blue is most common in our garden.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Second Flying Ant Day


Following a flying ant day on 7th July, mainly the nest on our rockery, we have just had another flying ant day this evening. This is the nuptial flight, the larger queens leave the best pursued soon after by the smaller males - survival of the fittest.
This time the main focus was nest sites in our front garden and under the paving slabs of the path outside our house. The above, mainly smaller males, on our front path.
Not a surprise as the last 4 years I have been taking part in the Flying Ant Day survey the 'Royal Society of Biologists' - plotting flying ant days across the country.
A couple of queen ants.


As part of the public involvement they encouraged unusual pictures and managed a close up of a queen sighting on the end of my finger and I try to  better it each year.
Sadly not so good this year. However it does help trying to photograph a queen in flight.



The field ants nest appears to have moved from our garden this year as they came up out of the pavement outside our house.
Please to see they have not gone far.


As always, many of the ants don't make it very far and those that do run the gauntlet of the gulls, swifts and other birds.

Frog in our living room


Got up this morning to find this common frog in our living room.
We have been leaving the conservatory doors open until quite late so it must have hopped in when no one was looking.


Not sure why it was attracted to the bag - maybe it thought that the colours where flowers and would be a good place to hide.
I carefully picked up the frog (with damp hands) and placed it back in the pond area.