Sunday, 27 July 2008


I was attracted by a strange low shrieking sound in the garden. I walked across the garden following the sound when I noticed movement low down in the tree. At the same time a kestrel burst out of the side of the tree (it probably spotted me) and circled twice before disappearing over the roof tops. The movement had not been the kestrel, as it exited from a different place and too soon. However, no matter how hard I searched I did not discover any other animal.
I also rescued yet another gatekeeper from the conservatory

Friday, 25 July 2008

More butterflies

I observed 5 different types of butterfly in the garden over the last few days, meadow brown, gate keeper, speckled wood small white and large white. There were at least two meadow brown and at least 2 gate keepers. the gate keeper is very similar to the meadow brown, but the former has small white spots on the lower wing.

Meadow Brown

Gate Keeper

Speckled wood

Monday, 21 July 2008


Saturday 19th July, a small white butterfly visited the nasturtians in the window box, carefully depositing single eggs on some of the leaves.
Many of the eggs were on the exposed upper surface of the leaves. Butterflies have taste buds in their feet and can sense leaves that will be good food for their caterpillars.

Sunday 20th, I discovered a butterfly, wings crumpled as if it had recently hatched. The butterfly, possibly a gate keeper was hanging onto the long grass.
When butterflies first emerge from their crysalis they have to pump blood into their wings. Usually they would be ready to fly in about an hour. I went back later and the butterfly had gone.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Butterflies and moths

Yesterday morning, and again today, a holly blue butterfly visited the garden (on several occasions).
Yesterday afternoon a comma butterfly flew around the garden settling for a while before flying to another location. Seen below resting on the piece of driftwood near the pond.

I also noticed leaf-cutter bees were back in the garden. These looked slightly smaller than the first ones. The pieces of leaf were also smaller. These ones were making a nest in an old flower pot. Like the original bees, they entered through the gap where the old soil had dried away from the edge (below).

Thursday, 3 July 2008

swifts butterflies etc

Another catch up for end of June early July. Red admiral butterfly has been visiting the garden but no pic yet. A meadow brown butterfly did visit my garden over several days.

A very large (Queen?) red tailed buimble bee flew into our conservatory and needed to be helped out.

One warm, muggy evening the black ants left the nest by our side gate for their mating flight. Both the new queens and the much smaller (winged) males were visible in amoungst the workers. many of course did not make it.

Some ended up in spider webs, some were snatched out of the air by birds while others were picked off the ground by starlings and a herring gull. The idea being the females get a head start and only then 'fit' males will manage to fertilise a queen. The queens that were successful return to the ground and bite of their wings. They will start new colonise. the poor old males are not needed anymore. The successful queens will be looked after hand and foot (so to speak) but are destined to spend their life underground as egg laying machines.

From time to time I spot the tiny movements of a baby frog in the garden. Back in the pond, some of the tadpoles haven't even got their back legs yet.

The two herring gull chicks on the roof behind us were learning to fly in their usual clumsy way.

Last, but by no means least, the swifts nesting next door have been putting on spectacular air displays in the evening. The picture don't do them justice (not even the video I took). In the picture above they are just begining to turn for a run across our front garden. They will scream in (lower than the gutter of next doors house) and pass overhead almost close enough to touch if I stood up. Our garden is higher than next door so they are much lower when they pass.

When I stayed with out friends in Tenerife a few years back I would get up early to see them. Our friends lived in the mountains and by about 8 am the swifts had made their way up to us. I would walk a couple of hundred yards down the road and sit on a wall. They flew so close you could actually see their eye move as they flew past, checking me out. Another great experience with swifts was also up in the mountain in Tenerife. At the end of the road was a photo point over looking the valley. The swifts would scream low up the road and at the last moment star burst around us reminiscent of a red arrows display. Swifts would pass each side and above fly out over the valley, regroup and repeat the whole thing again. An amazing experience.