Saturday, 24 December 2011

Red Admiral Butterfly

I noticed a Red Admiral butterfly flying around the garden several times during the day. It was quite sunny, no bees but several hoverflies were also active.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Sparrowhawk mobbed by herring gull.

While checking the garden after the stormy weather, I head a commotion in the sky. A few seconds later a sparrowhawk appeared over the roof top, pursued by a very noisy herring gull.

Luckily I had my camera with me as it all happened very fast.
As the sparrowhawk swerved and changed direction the herring gull followed but making a wider turn being less manoeuvrable.

The herring gull continued to chase the sparrowhawk and they disappeared behind the house behind our garden.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Long-tailed tits

A very noisy flock of about 8 long-tailed tits passed through my front garden. They first appeared in the lilac tree but by the time I got my camera they had flown across to our neighbours garden opposite the track.

They foraged for a while before slowly moving on up the track (heading north away from our house and eventually disappeared down into the lower gardens.

About 20 minutes later, a noise flock (probably the same long-tailed tits) headed back south along the gardens behind ours, sending a few minutes in the apple tree before flying off.

I have seen them in the local park and it is possible where these birds and come from and returning to.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Bees and goldfinches

Along with the fuscia, lavender and nastursium the hebe continues to attract and provide food for white-tailed bumble bees.
The recent cold snap sadly finished off the remaining morning glory flowers.

A small flock of gold finches has been travelling back and forth along the gardens.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Morning glory bee visits

The morning glory plants that I grew from seed are now in full flower.
The large flowers are attracting a large number of bees, such as white tailed bumble bee and honey bees as well as hoverflies.
A small number of common carder bees have also been visiting the flowers.

Friday, 16 September 2011

More fox observations

One of the foxes was up on next doors shed roof early this morning in amongst the windfall apples. Last night, as I walked down the road to the shop, I saw 2 of the foxes. The first was quite close, investigating
around a car across the road from our house. When it saw me coming it turned and disappeared up a track between the houses.

The second fox was further up the road and sitting upright like a dog. It too eventually disappeared up another track between the houses, which eventually joins with the previously mentioned track. Normally the foxes stick to the gardens and the back alleyways until after dark. We have still been noticing the regular travels of the dog fox through our garden at 9.00pm

Two nights ago, we were spoken up by foxes at 2.00am. The vixen and the cub were running around our car and making noises at something under the car. At first we thought they may have cornered a cat, even though my observations of these foxes throughout the year suggested they were wary of the cats and avoided them if possible. Infact on several occasions the cats seemed to gang up on the foxes several cats surrounding a fox and staring. But it turned out be be the dog fox. They then ran around chasing each other playfully.

I was really pleased to see that the cub is now looking like a small fox, where as before it looked stunted and more like a puppy. It was also interesting to see them together still as cubs are normally ejected from the den in September to fend for themselves (which is why there is often a high number of young foxes killed on the road in September and October.

We could hear the foxes even thought we could not always see them. However we did observe the dog fox drinking from the pond in our back garden.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Brown carder bee

There are still a lot of bees active in and around our garden. These are mainly honey bees and two banded bumble bees.However some bees fly through and don't settle making a positive ID difficult

There are still a few brown carder bees, relatively rare in Sussex, visiting.

I have seen them in our garden however these 2 pictures were taken just outside in the track. While they visited the occasional mallow flower, they favoured the last of the blackberry flowers.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Red Admiral

There are still a few butterflies visiting the garden. Gate keepers and this striking red admiral butterfly.
It was once thought that all red admirals died out ion the winter months, replaced by butterflies the following the year flying across the channel. Due to the milder winters, a few red admiral butterflies do overwinter as adults as they are seen in January and February - too early to be migrants from the continent.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


I noticed this dragonfly resting on our garden path yesterday.

I think its a common darter, possibly a female.

Today, I noticed this stunning dragonfly. My first glimpse was a dragonfly passing the window. When I went out to investigate, I accidentally disturbed it from our sunflowers where it had been resting. It flew out of our garden and I carefully followed.
It had landed on a rock rose bush overhanging our garden wall. I think its a male southern hawker. This looked like the dragonfly I had seen patrolling our road on 24th August.
I was able to slowly move really close and got this close up picture with the road and car opposite in the same picture, taken on wide angle.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

More pipisterlle bat observations

I have continued to watch the pipistrelle bats. They circle right over our garden wall and it I stand still they fly past sometimes only a foot away.
The best chance of photographing the bats is when they circles the tree across the track, as it provides a chance to predict where they are likely to fly next. They are very fast and the pictures have to be taken wide angle. At times the bats are only a foot off the ground as they hunts. There are always moths around the Red Valerian, particularly silver y-wing moths. The pictures are not excellent but you can see many of the features such as the finger bones that support the wings.
The bats now appear at about 8.45pm as it gets darker earlier. They forage for about 30 minutes, flying back and forth, often turning above my head as our garden is at the end of the track.
Its such a treat seeing these fascinating little mammals up close.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Christian Moullec at the Shoreham airshow

This is Christian Moullec at the Shoreham airshow with his imprinted barnacle geese.

This is what baby geese usually do with their mother. Christian hopes to use what he learns to help rare geese (such as the white fronted geese) to migrate to new area starting new colonies in other areas.
They did look spectacular

Friday, 12 August 2011

Pipistrelle Bats

I have been watching the pipistrelle bats now most evenings. Now that its getting darker earlier they now appear about 9.00pm.

They are still foraging in the track that runs past our garden. When I stand by our garden wall they pass overhead by about a foot. This is the turning point before they fly back up the track. In fact one came so close the other day I felt the wind on my face.

Photographing the bats is very tricky because they are so fast and the shutter often delays even with a flash. The picture below makes the bat look like a ghost.
The other evening I saw 2 bats performing what looked like courtship. This occurs between end of July and beginning of October.

The bats continue to feed for about 30 minutes and then they move onto to another location. Last night I noticed one of the bats foraging around the apple tree that overhangs our back garden.

I have not seen much of the foxes lately. The cubs usually leave the den in September to find their own territory. Their single cub was still looking under developed when I saw it last a week or so ago.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Ant mating flight

Another ant mating flight, not quite as spectacular as the previous one. The ants on the rockery undertook their second mating flight first at 2.20pm

At about 6.30pm the main nest in the front garden had their second mating flight (and the ants just outside the gate).

But of course many of them do not survive the mating flight as they face predators in the air...
and on the ground.
Some become trapped in spider webs...
...or meet their end in other ways, this one drowned in the bird bath.

At 7.15pm I noticed that the yellow field ants that live underneath the bird bath also started their (first) mating flight.

This is the first time I have seen the yellow ant mating flight.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Butterflies on a sunny day.

A sunny day and a good good day for butterflies, These included marbled white butterflies.

Red admiral butterflies

At the back of the garden a tortoiseshell visited the red valerian

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Wasp eating carrion

Last night a fox caught and eat a juvenile herring gull and we found the wings on the back lawn.
It was probably killed down the track where there were gull feathers and maybe brought to our garden as it was more secluded.
Possibly a juvenile that attempted its first flight and ended up on the ground. I checked the two nests I have been watching and the juvenile was not from either nest. 

The black ants had already moved in. The wings were laying underside up and I turned them over to check they were from a juvenile.
A minute later a wasp appeared and landed on the wing it then made its way to the base of the wings where some flesh was attached.  

The wasp proceeded to chew away at it before flying off - I guess to feed wasp larvae.

While this was the first time I had witnessed this apparently it is not uncommon for social wasps to visit carrion in this way.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Overzealous clearing of the track adjacent to our house

Its happened again, a group from community services have returned and started 'clearing!' the track. Last year they came and cleared it on 20th June cutting down bramble in full flower - covered in bees, butterflies etc, wild flowers such as mallow and sting less nettle  and any overhanging branches. When I mentioned the wildlife in the track they said they had checked for wildlife before they started!!!

This time they were directed to our house by the neighbourhood watch contact for the road, after we moaned last year about the problem - but then we had been out all day and it was all done before we got home. They wanted to speak to me and ask what they shouldn't touch down our end of the track - but I was away running a wildlife course in Shoreham. I spoke to my wife at lunch time by telephone and she passed on my message.

While we were able to protect the bramble and wild flowers at our  end of the track ...

...they seem to have decimated whole areas with no apparent plan.

This tree has been cut down and the foliage on the bank has also been removed - a favourite hunting area for the foxes and also used by blackbirds and sparrows.

As with last year the track is full of wildlife, bees, butterflies, hoverflies ladybirds, beetles, crickets, lacewings etc as well as birds, the foxes of course and also pipistrelle bats that use the track as part of their foraging route.

At least we have been able to reduce the 'damage' done this year although this was also due just as much to the rain - hopefully they won't be back this year.

When challenged last year they said they were doing a good service for the community - but they don't seem to have checked beforehand. Also, as they chopped down the foliage, empty bottles, cans and other litter were revealed. These were not removed last year or this year, so I am not sure which part of clearing the track for the benefit of the residents that comes under!

Towns and villages provide a patchwork of habitats for wildlife inlcuding parks and our gardens and tracks like this one are surely vital parts of this patch work and should be managed more sensitively.