Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Ladybird larvae and large red damselflies

I checked the bramble growing in the track near our house to see if the Tree bees were visiting these flowers as well. I did not see any, but there lots of other bees, buff tailed bumble bee, red tailed bumble bee and honey bees.
I did also notice that the bramble and sting nettles were covered in ladybird larvae

And a few ladybird pupae as well.

In our garden, now the wind has finally subsided, the large red damselflies are strting to pair up.
The male clasps the females neck and some time later mating takes place.
They remain coupled together while egg laying. The female lays the eggs on vegetation beneath the water level.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Foxy visit

The last few night we have caught a glimpse of a fox walking along the front wall down the side of our garden. As you will see from other blog entries Foxes are often seen nearby

However, this evening at about 9.00pm, the fox walked along the back wall of our garden, peering in our window.

It then walked along the wall and jumped on to the shed roof.

After a while spent looking around, the fox continued along the back wall and the along the usual side flint wall, stopping to watch us before continuing along the wall to the front of the house and jumped down into the track.

A dark head popped out from behind a bush about a third of the way down the track. I have suspeced that there may be cubs.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

More from the herring gull family

A sudden commotion of herring gulls circling and shouting at each other. One of the parents leaves the nest and calls raucously at the gulls. Soon the other parent joins in too.

A parent returns to the nest
Stay away from my chicks!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Herring chicks begging for food

The activity in the herring gull nest is fascinating to watch.
I noticed one of the adults returning to the nest and one of the chicks starts to beg for food by tapping at the orange spot on the herring gulls beak. This is how the chicks ask for food.

It was difficult to see if the adult had food for the chick or not.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Two herring gull chicks

I have been keeping an eye on the nesting herring gulls and I got a glimpse today of two chicks

The nest is on the chimney of a house that backs onto ours. I only spotted one at first and it was a while before I manged to spot the second chick

The parents seem to be doing a good job of sharing the duties of looking after the young. One of the adults will return and relive the one guarding the chicks and later on will swap over again.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Tree Bees

I found a very unusual looking bee today visiting the thornless blackberry that grows at the back of our garden.
This bee is a Tree Bee Bombus hypnorum. The Tree Bee was first reported in the UK in the summer of 2001 from a specimen found on the Hampshire/Wiltshire border.

I saw a maximum of two tree bees at one time, but there was likely to be more as one returned to the nest and another bee returned.
This bee is often associated with parks and gardens. regularly establishes colonies in cavities above ground, and this includes roof spaces, holes in trees and in bird nest boxes. There is a big apple tree in the garden behind ours and the area around it has been left to become overgrown.
It is mainly an early season species. The queens emerge from hibernation in February or early March, and workers are active throughout the early spring. The species is at its most obvious in late May and June, when the colonies are producing males. A partial second brood is sometimes active in

Monday, 23 May 2011

Large Red Damselflies mating

The Large Red Damselflies that have been emerging from our pond are beginning to pair up for mating and egg laying.
I have not seen nowhere near as many this year, normally a dozen or more hanging around the pond at one time, but it has been very windy over the last few days. I have noticed some damselflies sheltering in the vegetation on windy days

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Nesting Herring Gulls

This pair of nesting herring gulls are on the roof top of a house in the following road parallel to ours. They have been taking it in turns on the nest.
Today I noticed the parents watching the nest with interest, maybe the chicks are hatching?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Tree Loss

The tree overhanging our garden has been cut down. We knew it was imminent and sadly it was necessary to do something with the tree. Due to bad cutting several years ago where the owner cut his side flat, new growth shot up, out over our garden and across our neighbours (to the left).
The tree before it was cut down

The tree (not a British Tree) was 3 times its size from when we moved in and towered twice the height of our bungalow. The engulfed our green house (cutting off most of the sunlight) and some of the branches stretched across the garden to within a couple of metres. Due to bad management of the tree in the past it was not too big and also potentially dangerous.

I would have preferred the tree was cut down to half its size. The tree was important to the movements of several bird species constantly moving through the gardens, especially goldfinch and blue tit. But the tree was not growing in our garden.

The days following the tree being cut down it was strange. The bird calls of goldfinch, sparrow and blue tit which were constant all day were silenced. I am pleased to say that the birds are beginning to adapt their movement and although we don’t get as many in our garden anymore, they are now passing through again.
The nearby nesting blackbirds continue to use our TV ariel as on of its singing posts. The echos of two other blackbirds, one to the south and one to the north, can be heard in the gaps between it singing.

A pair of goldfinches which are nesting nearby also use our TV ariel as a singing post.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Large red damselfly

I have noticed many large red damselflies emerging from the pond. After spending 2 years as a larvae, they climb up the stalks of pond plants in the spring. Once a safe distance above the water level they split out of their larvae.
At first they are pale cream. As they dry out they also start to colour up and after a few hours they fly for the first time.

This one flew into our conservatory

Goldfinches and common blue

Goldfinches pass through our garden every day, but recently a pair of goldfinches have been visiting. I have caught a quick glimpse of them in the bird bath from time to time.

This morning I noticed a pair of goldfinches feeding in the track next to our house.

Not long a go the track was full of dandelions which went to see and blew everywhere. Maybe some of the seeds are still laying on the ground.

Later on in the afternoon a common blue butterfly was feeding just over our garden wall on the same track.
We often get holly blue butterflies in the garden, difficult to distinguish unless they settle. You can see the top and under wing markings in this picture

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Life in a black ants nest

While working in the garden I accidentally disturbed a black ant nest on the rockery. This exposed a couple of chambers where ant larvae and cocoons were stored. The nest was beneath a rock a favourite site for ant nests because the rock absorbs the suns heat. This is why they also nest under garden paths and patios.
Tiny ant larvae

Worker ants swarmed around the nest to look for the intruder and protect the nest while others speedily picked up the larvae and cocoons and carried them deeper under ground.

These tiny ant larvae will be fed by the workers and grow rapidly if plenty of food is available. As well as protecting the larvae, the worker ants keep them clear and healthy.
Eventually the developing larvae will spin a cocoon while they change (metamorphosis) into worker ants.

If you look closely near the centre of the picture you will notice a much larger stage larvae which has been brought to the chamber so it can spin a cocoon.

Later in the year new queens and males will be produced who will leave the nest on a mating flight and the survivors will start colonies elsewhere. See below for a link to a mating flight last year, from a different black ants nest in the front garden.

Ants are fascinating to watch and one of the most interesting insects you can find in your garden.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Early Bee

Here are a couple of very busy early bee Bombus pratorum doing a great job of pollinating the flowers on our raspberry canes.
This bee species may have one of two bands. The ones visiting my garden only have one band. They are only visiting the raspberry flowers at the moment.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Lacky moth caterpillar

Today I noticed a large colourful caterpillar on the shrub growing in a pot outside our front door.
It was a caterpillar of the Lackey moth Malacosoma neustria.

This caterpillar is usually found on deciduous trees living communally in a silk tent which they spin.
It is only at the last instar stage, having shed their skin for the last time before coming a chrysalis, that the caterpillars then go their own way. This is how this single caterpillar ended up on our shrub. 
The adult moth is a brown colour with two wavy markings across the wings. I don't have a picture but I have provided a link below.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

House martins and swifts

A feeding flock of house martins appeared overhead yesterday morning and this evening the first two swifts have arrived. They nest under the eaves of our neighbours house and I always look forward to their return.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Nesting herring gulls

We have several herring gull nesting each year.

This one gull is collecting some last bits of material for the nest - as seen from our bedroom window.

This nest is a few houses, the adults had just swapped over on the nest.