Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Mr Blackbird Update

Mr Blackbird returned on Monday to the garden and I've seen him again today.  I guess he was just having the day off on Sunday!
Anyway, I'm very pleased to see him back and he has, as usual, been very busy feeding his two youngsters.

Mr Blackbird © 2013 Steve Ward

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Bird, wildlife and flower log, 22-28 July 2013

Firstly an update on the missing food tray.  I found it!  Somehow it was moved about about 12 meters away (direct route, through a large flower bed and up a stepped part of the garden) to under the acer tree.  Or further if whatever it was went via the path around the flower bed, but still had to get it up the stepped part.  So who knows!  The good thing is it has returned.

However, today has been a very quiet day for blackbirds, who usually eat from the tray (replaced with a spare one!).  They have hardly been around and I've not seen our usual Mr Blackbird.  I hope he is okay as he is still feeding his little ones.  I get used to him being around when I am outside, he comes in as soon as I put food down for him in the morning, and a top up in the evening.  He is there when I'm out gardening, and most of the time when I look out of the window.  I've really missed him.

Honey bee and majoram gold tipped © 2013 Natasha Forder
Today a quick trip to the garden centre to buy some flowering plants, I don't have that many now out in flower and I'd like to attract more bees and butterflies.  They'll be planted in the week when I've decided where to put them!  I prepared the patch this afternoon, so all ready to go.

This week has been good for butterflies.  As you can see from the list below I've seen more than just the large white one!  And a few of each as well, which is good news as usually I only see a couple each week.

Also this week I've finally seen what I've identified to be white-tailed bumblebees.  There have been a few different bees around the last couple of days and as well as the white-tailed I've identified a male red-tailed.  Previously I've only seen the workers.  They are making the most of the lavender and flowers on the herbs.

Birds Wildlife and Insects Flowers
Blackbird – male, female, juvenile Grey squirrels African daisy
Great spotted woodpecker - male, female, juvenile Snail Geranium
Chaffinch - male, female, juvenile Slug Rose
Greenfinch - male, female Backswimmer Lavender
Blue tit - adult, juvenile Bees - various Daisy
Great tit - adult, juvenile Large white butterfly Lily
Dunnock - adult, juvenile Red admiral butterfly Hostas
Robin - adult, juvenile Common blue Honeysuckle
Jay - adult Yellow butterfly -
brimstone I think
Birdsfoot trefoil
Magpie - adult Tortoiseshell butterfly Hemerocallis
Crow - adult
Cats Ear
Collared dove - adult
Woodpigeon - adult, juvenile
Nuthatch - adult
Goldfinch Montbretia


Saturday, 27 July 2013

The tale of the missing...

Sometimes strange things happen in the garden...

First there was the missing fat ball hanger, next a couple of  peanut feeders.
Quite a big rock from around the pond, one morning, was in the pond!
One of the three rubber ducks in the pond, one we inherited and the other two a present from my mum, several times I have found on the lawn and then one day in the garage guttering!

And this morning I looked out and the metal ground food tray for the birds was not in sight.  And I can't believe for one minute that Mr Blackbird has run off with it, not even with the help of his two youngsters and the Mrs!
It does sometimes move around the garden in the day (but I've not managed to witness that), but never very far.

As is usual on these events I have a walk around the garden, look under the bushes and by the hole in the fence to next doors where the badgers come in when they visit.  As usual, nowhere to be found!!!  I even dredged the pond!

I did find the fat ball hanger, without the fat balls of course, under a bush.

For months I thought that the peanut feeders were being knocked off by the squirrels and then in the night stolen by badgers.  At that point they were only mythical badgers that we had been told, had from time to time been seen in the garden.  We had not seen any!  Anyway they got the blame until one day in broad daylight I saw a squirrel pick one up in its mouth by the hanging wire bit and run off with it down the garden.  That was number three!  I was in such shock that I just stood there, I didn't react and run after it!  And no surprises, I didn't find it!!!  I had no idea a squirrel could handle one of them.  But the funniest thing was that it was empty!

The squirrels can be a bit of a nightmare at times, once we had one, which after chewing the lid off a nut hanger, got itself a bit wedged part way inside it.  Luckily it did manage to get itself out!

I don't have any photos of the rubber ducks in the pond or any animals being caught in the act instead here is what the cheeky squirrels in the garden get up to!
Sid Squirrel to the Rescue - part 1
Sid Squirrel to the Rescue - part 2
In December new neighbours moved in and during conversation they mentioned they had found some...
Yes you've guessed it; some bird feeders!  So after several months they were actually recovered.

I am going through all the options in my mind as to who is the thief!
Along with badgers we do get visits from foxes and a few of the local cats, but luckily not too often.

I only "know"one of them, he's a big ginger cat, lots of fur, from two doors down.  Lovely and friendly, loves being stroked, called Leo.  He's is a bit of a squirrel chaser, but that's another story.  He likes to sit on the garage roof sometimes in the sun and I've been wondering if he has been the one playing with the rubber ducks!  However, I don't have him down as today's thief!

Who knows, maybe the tray will turn up, one day...

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Bird, wildlife and flower log, 15-21 July 2013

I've spent most of this week in Cornwall, a great few days away and on Saturday my friend Helen's wedding in Padstow, Helen looked beautiful in her dress and the service, reception and people Steve and I met were lovely.

The usual birds were around the beginning of the week and Mr Blackbird was really pleased to see us home this evening and was in his food tray as soon as I'd taken a few steps away.  Luckily all the birds had a top up of food and water with a visit from my parents so they did have enough to keep them going!

I took this photograph of the nuthatch a couple of weeks ago, I was pleased with how it turned out as I wasn't that close, it was dark in the tree (even though it was a sunny day), and I had to crop it quite a lot.

'Nutty' Nuthatch © 2013 Natasha Forder
Birds Wildlife and Insects Flowers
Blackbird – male, female, juvenile Grey squirrels, lots of! African daisy
Great spotted woodpecker - male, female, juvenile Snail Geranium
Chaffinch - male, female Slug Campanula
Greenfinch - male, female, juvenile Pond skater Creeping buttercup
Blue tit - adult, juvenile Bees - various Daisy
Great tit - adult, juvenile Backswimmer Rose
Dunnock - adult Large white butterfly Water lily
Robin - adult, juvenile
Jay - adult
Magpie - adult
Rose Campion
Crow - adult
Collared dove - adult
Woodpigeon - adult, juvenile

Nuthatch - adult


Monday, 15 July 2013

Bird, wildlife and flower log, 8-14 July 2013

I was really pleased with this photo I took last weekend of the damselfly.  Luckily it stopped long enough for me to take a few photos, and this one in focus!

This weekend there has also been around a black and white damselfly which I think is a female common blue.  I took a few photos but none turned out as well as the one below.  And then as the light was fading yesterday evening I saw an emerald damselfly as well.

Large red damselfly © 2013 Natasha Forder
Some of the flowers are going over and the lupins are now all gone.  The campanula in the shade is still flowering as this starts later than that situated in the sun.  As the flowers fade there have been less bees in the garden.  The back lawn is being left longer at the moment because it is full of clover which the bees that have been around like.  I need to increase the number of summer flowering plants.  As this time of year the garden doesn't have so many.

I've seen the young great spotted woodpecker a few times this week and I've certainly heard them!  The woodpeckers have been very noisy over the weekend, but I can't see what is upsetting them.  They currently like to sit in the acer tree towards the back of the garden.  Like many of the other birds the adults feed the young the fat block we put out.  These hardly get touched in the winter in comparison but just now are very, very popular.

The goldfinches have been in this week, munching on the niger seeds.  Then something broke the feeder!  And I can't imagine it was a goldfinch.  I guess I am thinking squirrel, but to be fair they don't usually go anywhere near that one.  So maybe a jay tried to jump on or something...

Unfortunately yesterday a female chaffinch flew into the patio doors and didn't make it.  I didn't think there was too much hope as it didn't make any attempt to get up.  In the past when they've hit they have got up onto their feet even if they then don't move.  When it happens we always stay around to keep away any would be predators.  It was very sad.  I really hope it didn't have any little ones still needing to be fed.

On Saturday Steve and I went to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke.  Like last year, well worth the visit and free entry too.  Very inspirational.  Something to work towards with my garden wildlife photos!

Birds Wildlife and Insects Flowers
Blackbird – male, female, juvenile Grey squirrels, lots of! Lupin
Great spotted woodpecker - male,
female, juvenile
Snail African daisy
Chaffinch - male, female Slug Geranium
Greenfinch - male, female, juvenile Pond skater Campanula
Blue tit - adult, juvenile Hoverfly Pontentilla
Great tit - adult, juvenile Bees - various Creeping buttercup
Dunnock - adult Buff-tailed bumblebee Daisy
Robin - adult, juvenile Backswimmer Rose
Jay - adult Small white butterfly Water lily
Magpie - adult Large white butterfly Clover
Crow - adult Large red damselfly Senecio
Collared dove - adult Common blue damselfly - female Mystical Black St. Johns Wort
Woodpigeon - adult, juvenile Emerald damselfly - female Honeysuckle
Nuthatch - adult Unidentified moth Lavender
Goldfinch Spirea
Thrush Rose Campion

Sunday, 14 July 2013


Young Blackbird © 2013 Steve Ward

There are currently two male  blackbirds that visit the garden.  In order to identify them they are called the "Real Mr Black" and "Impostor Black"!

The Real one, is the one whose area it is, he is quite distinguished looking with a silver patch on his front!  And he has been around for a while.  The other is chubbier and fully black in colour, and is a newer visitor to the garden.

They both have families to feed and I've seen both in the garden feeding their young ones.

The Real Mr Black has had a second brood and this morning I saw him feeding one of these.  Of course as soon as you get your camera out they disappear!  I have discovered that all birds and wildlife are camera shy!!!

He is having a bit of a tough time of it at the moment, feeding his young, chasing Impostor Black away and suffering in the hot weather we are having at the moment.  Lots of beak open and stretching of wings, trying to cool off.  His young one seems to be camped out under the mahonia bush near where I put the mealworms.  So dad has been running out, grabbing a beak load of worms and then running back under the bush to feed it.

There is a female blackbird that visits but not as often as the male, and he doesn't chase her off, so I think they must be a pair.

The photo is one that Steve took a couple of weeks ago.  I've not managed to get any photos yet of any of the young ones!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Bird, wildlife and flower log, 1-7 July 2013

This week has seen the "usual's" in the garden. Surprisingly I've not seen the young woodpecker back. Maybe it isn't that confident yet. When I did see it last week it was having difficulty standing on the electric cable that runs across next doors garden. It kept losing its foot hold!  Maybe it's keeping to sitting on thinner branches hidden in the trees.

The strawberries I am grown are not doing too badly, so far I've picked a bowl full, (over the last week) and that must be the record so far in three years! Although the slugs have helped themselves to a few as well!!!

I think I've finally managed to identify one of the plants in the garden and I just love the name, Mystical Black St. Johns Wort!  There are so many things in the garden that I am still trying to identify!

So that the bees could make the most of the wildflowers on the front lawn it didn't get mowed last weekend and they have been making the most of it.  I would really like to have a wild area of "lawn" but there isn't anywhere where it will fit in at the moment.

I am still trying to get some good photos of bees but it is very difficult.  I am quite pleased with this one.

Buff-tailed bumblebee © 2013 Natasha Forder

Birds Wildlife and Insects Flowers
Blackbird – male, female, juvenile Grey squirrels, lots of! Lupin
Great spotted woodpecker - male,
Snail African daisy
Chaffinch - male, female Slug Geranium
Greenfinch - male, female, juevenile Pond skater Campanula
Blue tit - adult, juvenile Hoverfly Helianthemum
Great tit - adult, juvenile Bees - various Pontentilla
Dunnock - adult Tree bumblebee Weigela
Robin - adult, juvenile Early bumblebee Foxglove
Jay - adult Buff-tailed bumblebee Creeping buttercup
Magpie - adult Red-tailed bumblebee Daisy
Crow - adult Common carder bee Green Hellebore
Collared dove - adult Backswimmer Rose
Woodpigeon - adult, juvenile Small white butterfly Water lily
Nuthatch - adult Large red damselfly Birdsfoot trefoil

Mystical Black St. Johns Wort
Rose campion