Young Goldfinch are still showing up in our garden- these must be from a late brood. Goldfinches, recovering from losses in the 1970’s and one of the few birds to be increasing, come to feed on Niger and Sunflower seeds at garden feeders, and have 2-3 broods a year- hence the late showing of juveniles. Still to gain their red heads, they do have the black and white ladder-backs and gold wing stripe. I’m including a drawing I did of adults and young. Conditions: Mild with sunny intervals. Temperature: Max 16-Min 13C.
Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers are hard to tell apart and both might be stopping off in your garden, like the Chiffchaff is in ours, filling up on their way south for winter migration. If you get the right view, you can see that Chiffchaff’s have dark legs, and, migrating shorter distances, have shorter wings. Willow Warblers have pale pinky-orange legs, are usually more yellow in overall colour, and have longer wings for longer migration. The photo’s should help! Conditions: Cloudy Temperature: Max 15- Min 11C.
Bumper hedgerow crops– The year’s strange weather pattern, with cold early spring, a dry April and enough sun and rain in July and August, has led to a really good crop of autumn Blackberries, Hips and Haws, Crab Apples, Sloes and Bullace (like wild Damsons), Acorns and many other seeds and berries, This is boosting Butterflies, after a late, slow start, and will enable bees, birds and mammals to stock up for migration or to survive winter. Walking the hedgerows today we saw many birds and insects feeding-Redstart, Warblers, Stonechat– it is a good time to keep your eyes peeled, especially for birds preparing to migrate. Conditions: A warm spell. Temperature: Max 16- Min 13C.
Angle Shades Moth– a distinctive, macro moth (wingspan 50mm) which can be seen in gardens throughout the UK and Europe, the bright green caterpillar feeding on herbaceous plants and the adult even flying in daytime sometimes. This one, looking typically like a dried autumn leaf, was one of very few species drawn to my moth trap down south last night. They raise several generations in a season but this one could have migrated as an adult from Europe. Conditions: Mostly cloudy. Temperature: Max 16- Min: 12C
Two Nuthatches, (so named because of the way they jam hard seeds and nuts into the bark of a tree and hammer them open- ‘nut-hackers’), have been making repeated trips to our feeders. If you, like us, find sunflowers sprouting in the most unlikely places, Nuthatches are the likely culprits, since they eat some seed and store some for later. They used to be mostly confined to the south but have spread further north in the 20th Century, first breeding in Scotland in 1989! Feeding from bird tables has probably helped them extend their range. Conditions: Heavy rain showers and sunny spells. Temperature: Max 15- Min 8C.
Sedums of many sorts, so brilliant for feeding numerous bees, bumblebees, hoverflies and butterflies during these autumn weeks, have been providing important nectar for many insects and three types of Bumblebees in the garden today. Here are queens of the Tree Bumblebee. I covered this species early in the year, being one of the first to emerge in spring. First colonising from Europe in 2001, in the New Forest, it has now spread north beyond Glasgow. The rest of the colony die out by now while the Queens emerge to feed up before hibernating. If you don’t already have sedums, there is a wide range of size and colour to choose from. Conditions: Sunny. Temperature: Max 16- Min 10C
Hemp Agrimony (neither related to the much smaller Yellow Agrimony nor to Hemp!) is a brilliant wild plant for late summer and autumn- attracting many insects, Butterflies and Moths. Impressive in size (3-5 feet, 1-2 metres,) with large, frothy flowerheads, this plant loves damp grassland, ditches, marshes and damp woodland edges. Nick- named ‘Raspberries and Cream’ from its appearance, there are smaller versions of these eupatoriums
– like ‘Baby Joe’– which would be great for autumn wildlife in a smaller garden. Conditions: Sun and cloud. Temperature: Max 19- Min 12C.