Sunday, 26 April 2009


A nice hot sunny day and a very fat frog was visible in the pond for most of the day.
I also saw a small chalk hill blue butterfly flying into the garden on several occasions during the day.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

A whole lot of nesting going on!

It is good to see so many birds nesting near our house at the moment. There are two pairs of blackbird that are nesting. One in the tree at the back of the garden discussed previously and another pair nesting in a hedge behind our neighbours garden.

This is the male returning to the nest in the hedge with a beak-ful of juicy worms. There is also a starling raising young in a nest built in the air brick of a neighbours house.

Three separate pairs of herring gull are also nesting on surrounding roof tops
Here are a noisy courting pair just down the road from our house.

This pair are having problems with last years chick, still hanging around and begging for food. The adults are trying their hardest to ignoring the juvenile.

They are also busy visiting the dirt track outside our house collecting materials for this years nest.

Another nest within site of my house.
These gulls already have a nest and seem very laid back.

That evening there was an awesome sky just after sunset.

Just after I took these pictures a lone swift circled round and after a few minutes flew into the eaves of our neighbours house. There are usually have about 3 nesting pairs each year. This is the first swift that has returned.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Ant caterpillar update

The last piece of the caterpillar remains (below), only a few black ants around.

By the evening there was nothing left.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Green woodpecker and great tit courtship feeding

The remains of the caterpillar in the garden is still in the same place and covered in ant.
I miss walking through Easthill park each day now that our daughter walks home from school with a friend. As it was a nice sunny day and I was due to spend all day at the computer, I decided to go for a quick walk.

The park was alive with bird activity, blue tits, goldfinch, blackbird, chaffinch and green finch. Many were calling including blackbird, blue tit, great tit and robin. As I walked around I heard another unusual and loud bird call. I had heard this for the last couple of years, usually deep in the wooded area of Emmaus gardens where it was not visible. I suspected green woodpecker, but have not so far seen the bird making the call. Until today that is. This time the sound was coming from the trees across the road from the park. At the moment I spotted the bird it flew south east into the park. I could see it was a woodpecker by its distinctive shape in flight and it appeared to be larger than the great spotted woodpecker I have seen on many occasions in the park and reported in this blog.

As I made my way to the other side of the park I heard the bird calling again. I took a couple of pictures from a distance in case it flew away before I got their. As I got closer I could see it was definitely a green woodpecker. However as I went to take a photograph, the battery failed and I did not have time to change the batteries before it flew off. I followed the general direction but could not see or hear the woodpecker again.

I checked out the nest box that watched last year, following the blue tit nesting, but no activity so far.
I did see a pair of foraging great tit and also observed courtship feeding (below)

As I walked home I noticed several goldfinches on the kerb, feeding on dandelion seeds. I save noticed this on a few occasions over the last few days.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Blue tit

Yesterday, a blue tit sang from the top of the apple tree for about 20 minutes before flying off.

As I crossed the garden this afternoon I noticed a Caterpillar on the step being attacked by black ants. Its always difficult to know what to do in such situations.

I often rescue slow worms and frogs from our cat and even the odd bumble bee that has flown into a spiders web. Would it be fair to deprive the ants of its quarry? I decided not and left them to it.

The caterpillar put up a good fight, curling its body and then flicking straight sending the ants off across the step.

I forgot all about the ants and the caterpillar until later that evening. The ants had managed to subdue the caterpillar and had carried it to the entrance to their nest, beneath the step.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Red Damselfly

As I walked past the pond today I disturbed a red damselfly. This is almost certainly emerged from the pond and is probably a Pyrrhosoma nymphula.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

butterflies and bees

Yesterday, two white butterflies hatched. One from near the window the other in the dustbin of weeds. At the end of last year some nastursiums seeded and grew in the bin and large white butterflies laid thier eggs on them. The bin has not been emptied since.

While we played a board game on the porch, a peacock butterfly sunned itself on the path. A speckled wood butterfly, queen red-tailed bumble bee joined buff tailed and hoverflies sunning themselves on the wall in late evening sun.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Drizzly day activity

It drizzled with rain yesterday, but I was surprised to see the black female bee still visiting the flowers. She disappeared just before the heavy showers and re-appeared afterwards. A pair of goldfinch were feeding in the apple tree in the garden behind ours.
Another drizzly day and the goldfinches were in the apple tree several times today. At one point, one of the goldfinch spent a long time preening its feathers.

This may be pair considering nesting as they seem to do a fair amount of singing from the same TV ariels, chimney and tree top.

A blue tit crossed from the apple tree to the bird-fat ball hanging at the end of the garden. Anyone who has been following this blog will remember that this was an attempt to encourage birds into the garden. Many birds pass the end of our garden on a flight path but as our garden is shorter they don't come into the garden in large numbers. This has had limited success. The thing with birds and bird feeders is they may take months to discover them and then become a regular feeding stop off. So when you start to pout food out for birds, its worth persevering

I also noticed a chiffchaff foraging in the apple tree. The male blackbird seemed to be collecting food today, possibly for the female if she is on a nest.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Territorial bees

A chiff chaff was hunting insects in the apple tree behind our garden. Its characteristic flitting behaviour as it grabs insects from the air alerted me to its presence.

Green caterpillar on the bush growing in pot at front of house.

The bees are still showing Territorial behaviour. Two males appeared, invariably one was chased away. Later, while a female was visiting the flowers, a male stalked it around the plant. Then grabbed the bee and flew a short distance before letting it go and chasing it off.

The black female is in the flower top centre and the brown male can be seen flying in from below right.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Peacock butterfly and grape hyacinth

I now have another reason to like the grape hyacinth in our garden. I noticed a peacock butterfly busily feeding on the tiny flowers.

I watched it for a while as it carefully probed the tiny bell flowers with its proboscis.

Monday, 6 April 2009

More bees and bee-fly

The female bee Anthophora plumipes is still visiting the flowers. There were two females at one time, but they seemed to tolerate each other. The brown coloured male has also been appearing on occasions, usually when the female was not there.
However, on one occasion they were both on the plant at the same time as the male chased the female right out of the garden.

I noticed a bee-fly visiting the same flowers, probing them with its proboscis. I have never seen them feeding from plants before. A speckled wood butterfly was sunning itself in the garden.

I found a dead Anthophora plumipes on the path near the plants this evening. I moved it to the decking to take this photograph.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Bees, bees and bee-fly

A nice sunny Sunday and lots of birds passing through, blue tits, goldfinch, greenfinch and more The blackbirds are still busy nest building.

The Valerie fish plant has been visited the last few days by a small black bee the same as last year. I think its Anthophoba plumipes. The female is mainly black and the male is brown.

The grape hyacinth plants are spreading across our garden again this year. Up until now I have found these plants a bit of a pain. Yesterday, the first time ever I discovered that they visited by insects and will view them in a different light from now on. Several tiny little bees (not sure of species yet) were busy visiting the tiny little bell flowers.
Later during the day I noticed a bee-fly hovering around the rockery. This I took the picture below while it was resting.

Our front (yellow) wall catches the last of the sun and is a nice little heat trap.
This attracted three bumble bees, several hoverflies and even a bee-fly sunning themselves I the warm evening sun.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Blackbird nest building

The blackbirds are still nest building and visiting the gutter on our conservatory for materials. This morning I manged to get a good view of them from behind an evergreen tree.

What I found particularly interesting was that although the female collected all the materials the male seemed to stand on guard.
He would appear first and remain in a tree nearby. A minute or so later the female arrived, rooting around any collecting moss and other debris. As soon as she flew off, the male followed.

In between trips, I manged to get out into the shed outside and look through the window, which gave me a good close up view.