Saturday, 21 December 2013

East Chevington Murmuration

At about 3 30pm the first starlings appear, just a few small flocks of ten or more, then the numbers build. Eventually about 15,000 gather, putting on quite a show as they fly very low over our heads. By 4pm they drop into the southern reed bed to roost. Next time I'll make sure my video camera batteries are charged!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A Quick Tail...

The fallen leaves collecting on my neighbour's roof are providing shelter for insects, a nice supply for the local birds.

Heading for the bathroom yesterday, I glanced out the gable end window, overlooking the roof, and saw a Pied Wagtail. Then another appeared, then another, then another....eight in total!

And yesterday a Grey Wagtail added some colour.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Giving nature a home (#givingnatureahome)

Nature's Home is the new title for the RSPB magazine. And it's on that theme I blog today.

My blog posts have been few and far between, over the last few months, as just over a year ago we moved into an old farmhouse needing some major repairs; new roof, windows, pointing etc. But as someone who is aware of the needs of other species, other than my own, I was always concerned that any works shouldn't preclude the various residents that find crumbly old buildings a cosy place to live. So the first thing to do was to let a few months roll by and see just what was living where......

On opening the bedroom cupboard there was a television. To enable it to fit, a
hole had been knocked into the chimney breast. On top of the back of
the TV was a jackdaw nest. 'Nature's Home' indeed!
An area of bare ground left after a confer was removed, had some cornfield annuals
seed chucked on it. Yes, that's about all that's needed. No time-consuming
gardening required. The results were blooming marvellous.
These Marmalade Hoverflies loved the poppies in their hundreds.
A number of Black Ant colonies were found along the garden path.
They enjoyed the 'weeds' left to grow,
A Blackbird finds the hedge a safe place to nest. Other species using the hedge
included Chaffinch and Greenfinch.
Buff-tailed Bumblebee nested under the hedge.
A Buff-tip Moth caught in moth garden moth trap.
A Lesser Yellow Underwing caterpillar found taking shelter under a pot.
Collard Dove builds a nest in the Ivy.
Crocuses brought early spring colour, and an early source of nectar to
emerging bees.
Drone fly laying eggs in the small barrel pond.
An Elephant Hawkmoth found in my moth trap
The new 'Swallow House' begins construction. One of two I intend to build to
help mitigate the loss of swallow nest sites resulting from development
 planned by my neighbour on his derelict barn.
The Swallows should be pleased!
A Nettle Tap moth, a Sun-fly and an unknown fly, tuck into a flowering 'weed'.
A local fox patrols the hedge row.
We have lots of frogs, common toads and some palmate newts here.
My neighbour's pond is particularly large so amphibians live here in great numbers.
It even accommodates a Kingfisher that comes to take Sticklebacks!
Thistles in the front garden prove tempting for the Goldfinches.
The green roof installed on top of my garden container has really taken off!
Greenfinches nested in the garden hedge in September last year. Just proves
why early hedge cutting isn't a good idea.
Green Silver-lines moth found in the moth trap.
Great Spotted Woodpecker is a regular visitor to the garden feeders.
Dicranopalpus ramosus - an alien Harvestman invader from Europe.
There's lots of these in the garden.
Leucozona lucorum, a striking hoverfly feeding on Buddleia.
Jackdaws nested in a hole in our gable end an in a nest box we put up
 for Little Owls.
A recently fledged Little Owl in my neighbours barn.
Long-tailed Tit looking for a invertebrate snack.
Phlox provides a source of nectar for this Marmalade Hoverfly.
Leaf mine on the apple tree caused by the caterpillar of
Lyonetia clerkella, a micro moth. They cause no harm to the
tree as shown by the huge crop of apples this year.
Marsham's Nomad Bee is a cuckoo bee that seeks out the nests of
other solitary bees.
Large annual daisies come into their own in late summer, early autumn
as a butterfly magnet. This stunning peacock could't resist.
Sweet Rocket (Hesperis matronal) growing along the hedge is the food plant for
this tiny moth,  Plutella porrectella
Hundreds of Poecilobothros nobilitatus 'danced' on the pond to attract a mate.

Red-tailed Bumblebees nested in the house wall.
We left a few holes when it was pointed.
Red Admiral makes a late show in October.
Red Mason Bees take advantage of the holes in the stone house walls.
When it was pointed we ensured that plenty of nest sites remained.
Ruby-tailed Wasp looking for Red Mason Bee nests to lay their eggs.
A Shrew in the wall.
A large Snail Eating beetle found under the boot brush at the back door.
Spiders are in every nook and cranny.
Swallow getting vocal.
Tree Sparrows raised three broods in a hole in the house this summer.
At least two wasp nests nearby this year. One in the hedge, and one in a nest box.
 Left alone, they didn't cause any problems for anyone while providing
a fantastic pest removal service in the garden.
Wolf spider on patrol.
Wren nest building in some Ivy.
Zebra Spider hunting on the wall
Now we have a very good idea where everything has it's home we can set about further enhancing habitats, and ensure we don't do anything that upsets our natural neighbours.