27th June 2017

Poplar Hawkmoth- This splendid, large moth at rest,  holds its hindwing forward of its forewings, and its abdomen curved up. It appeared in Catsfield today, in the heavy rain. Normally concealed during daytime, and well camouflaged against leaves this, the most common Hawkmoth, may be seen drawn to lights at night. The adults do not feed, just mate and lay their eggs on the underside of Poplar, Sallow or Aspen leaves. Conditions: Heavy rain at last. Temperature: Max 218- Min 15 C.

Poplar Hawkmoth

Poplar Hawkmoth

24th June 2017

Young birds are everywhere in the garden at present- here are Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Long-Tailed Tit (note the red eye ring that is clear on the young one). Juveniles tend to be paler and fluffier than the adults and some still show their ‘gape’- the exaggerated yellow bill-edge that helps guide the adult speedily to the juvenile’s mouth in a dark nest! They, and the exhausted and bedraggled adults, tend to like fat and seeds with a high fat contact, for rapid growth, at this time of year- before the young have the skill to catch insects. Conditions: Cool and mostly cloudy. Temperature: 18- Min 13C.

Young Coal Tit

Juvenile Long-tailed Tit with adult. Note red eye ring

Young Long-tailed Tit

Young Great Tit

Young Blue Tit

Young Blue Tit- note remains of yellow ‘gape’

10th June 2017

Field Rose- another of theoccasional wild flower identification blogs, though this lovely, white wild rose of field edges and hedgerows can also be bought for the garden- the flowers attract insects and the bright red hips in autumn are popular with birds, and were what country folk were paid to gather for Rose-hip syrup, a vital vitamin C supplement for children in World War Two. As kids, We also used the hairy seeds in these hips as very effective itching powder. Field Rose is easy to distinguish from the wild, pink Dog Rose. Conditions: Drizzle and heavy rain. Temperature: Max 18- Min 14.

Field Rose

 

7th June 2017

Green Alkanet: Looking like a larger than life Forget-me-not, we have to take care with this plant, which we inherited in the garden. The gorgeous blue flower is nectar-rich for Bees and Hoverflies. Preferring alkaline soils and damp, shady areas but capable of growing in most places, it has a very deep tap-root which is hard to dig out, and it spreads easily by seed, so can be invasive. The leaves can be composted but remove the seed-heads or it will turn up all over the place. Conditions: Sun and strong winds Temperature: Max 16- Min 12C.

Green Alkanet

1st June 2017

Great Tits, like this male this morning, can be seen feeding their newly fledged young all over the UK at present, so keep your eyes peeled. The most studied species of birds in the world, one researcher has calculated that the Great Tit parents feed a nest of fledglings the equivalent of us bringing home 100kg’s of shopping every day for three weeks! The bright, wide gape and mouth helps stimulate the adults to feed the young. Even out of the nest, the young birds are demanding. Conditions: Hot and sunny. Temperature: Max  21- Min 12 ..

Demanding young Great Tit

Male Great Tit responds to the juveniles demands

19th May 2017

Geranium Phaeum or, in the wild, Dusky Cranesbill is the best early, easy-to-grow and beautiful plant for bees that I know of, particularly happy in dry or damp shade, I was watching up to ten Bumblebees and some Honeybees feeding on this one plant in the garden yesterday. Garden varieties extend the native, deep maroon flowers through pale mauve to white. All hardy geraniums are good for insects but Phaeum is early and can be cut back to reflower later, or left to provide seed for finches.

Newly emerged worker Tree Bumblebee

Carder Bee on Geranium Phaeum

Honeybee on Geranium Phaeum

Conditions:  Cloudy and some rain. Temperature: Max 12- Min 9 c.

15th May 2017

Coal Tits, the smallest European Tit, are among many young birds in the garden this week, being fed by their adults– even in the pouring rain. Coal Tits eggs are laid in April, hatching 18 days later. Three juveniles were calling from the Rowan- both adults feed the young. Coal Tits eat insects, seeds and fat and benefit from mild winters and from garden-feeding. They cache extra food in holes in the ground– one of the reason we have sunflowers coming up randomly round the garden! While they nest in holes in trees, they will use nest-boxes, preferring ones with a narrow-slit

Another youngster, attracting attention by rapid wing and tail flapping

entrance. Conditions: Very wet couple of days, at last. Temperature: Max 15- Min 6C.