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Friday, 22 August 2014

My Garden In July, 2014 - including two 'lifers'

Whilst I did not do much photography in my garden in July, it did provide plenty of interest and some excitement!

Garden Birds

After quite a long period of absence, a male Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) has been paying us frequent visits. As yet, I'm not aware of it actually catching anything, but there have been plenty of near misses!

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (male) - our garden
On 27th July we had a very rare visit from a Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus). Only record shots were obtained, however.

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) - our garden
We got spoilt last year by the family of Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) that spent the summer in our garden. GSW visits have, sadly, been rare this year. Here's a juvenile that visited us on 26th July.
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) - our garden
The really unexpected happened on 29th July when a Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) visited. Whilst not a rare bird in itself, it's not common in suburban gardens. Again, unfortunately, only record shots were obtained.

Whitethroat (Sylvia  communis) - our garden
This has probably been the best summer ever in our garden for juvenile birds. just to lighten the atmosphere, how's this for a comical ball of fluff!!

It is, of course, a juvenile Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus).

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) - our garden
Garden Butterflies and Moths

I've not spent any significant amount of time with these this year, but I'm rather glad that I've not totally ignored them, as I'll explain later.

Every year we get Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua) caterpillars in our garden, but this year they've been extremely scarce. This is the only one I've found to photograph.

Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua) (caterpillar) - our garden
On 21st July, whilst sitting in our conservatory, my eye was taken by a butterfly landing on one of the Buddleia bushes. It was our first ever fritillary. This was a Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja), which I understand is somewhat rare in our county! Sadly, this was a rather tatty specimen.

Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - our garden
The following two images are of extremely common butterflies but, in my opinion, species that are spectacular for different reasons - the first for its upper wing markings and the second for its wing shape.

Peacock (Inachis io) - our garden
Comma (Polygonia c-album) - our garden
Other Garden Creatures

Early in the month we had two visits from a Common Toad (Bufo bufo). In reality, this creature is probably living undetected in our garden. It was quite amenable, and let me pick it up and place it where I could take photos. Here's a few!

Common Toad (Bufo bufo) - our garden
I've already posted an image of a Fox (Vulpes vulpes) taken with the wildlife camera that I had for a while. The first camera was faulty from the word go, but the second camera worked well for about two weeks before it too went faulty - and was returned to the supplier for a full refund.

Here's some video (first time I've posted video on my blog - thank you Noushka for your advice) of a fox which, unbeknown to us, was visiting our garden on a regular basis. The camera also recorded sound, but for these clips only came up with strange electronic noise, so I've overdubbed some music - if you don't like it, please turn your sound down.

Click here to go to my Fox video on YouTube (and click the 'back' button on your browser to return to this post when you have finished).

We've also go at least two Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) visiting us each night - hopefully living in the 'hogitat' that we installed last year, but I'm not going to disturb it to investigate. Here's a still image, taken with low-level flash.

Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) - our garden
Here's some video of Hedgehogs in my garden:

And here's some video of the Fox with a Hedgehog! 

Thank you for dropping by. I expect that it will be back to owls for the next post.


  1. Richard....What a lengthy, interesting, and entertaining post with excellent images. The Sparrowhawk is brilliant, and we also have Hedgehogs visit our garden almost nightly it seems, and we regard ourselves as fortunate for this. The 'ball of fluff' is both amusing and excellent....All uplifting stuff Richard and thanks for that.

    1. Thank you, Pete. From what I can gather, Hedgehogs in UK need all the support they can get, and we certainly intend to look after ours as best we can!

  2. It's been busy in your garden, the sparrowhawk is gorgeous. It's also interesting to see both a Whitethroat and Willow Warbler in the garden, there was loads of WW's passing through my spot yesterday. The video's are great too.

    1. Thank you, Doug. It's certainly exciting for me whenever I get a really unexpected visitor!

  3. Hi Richard: Miriam says that you have to pamper and feed that hedgehog until she gets there next year to see it!

    1. I'll do my level best to look after the Hedgehogs so that Miriam can watch them. They've been with us for well over a year now, but I've only started specifically putting out food for their benefit in the last month or so. It seems that they're starting to recognise the rustle of the food packet (which I now make a big song and dance about!) as they seem to show up within a few minutes of me putting the food out (which I do at irregular timings, but always after dark). Their eyesight is very poor but their senses of smell and hearing are extremely good.

  4. WOW!
    That is quite an array of garden creatures you're showing us.... for someone who did not take many photos in july! LOL!!
    I just love those Long-tailed tits.... with their pink eye lids they look made-up!!
    I had a few 1 meter above my head in the willow yesterday under which I hide on the edge of the lake to observe the fauna around and the kingfisher. Frustrating not be able to do any photos of these cuties!
    I envy your hedgehog, we have released quite a number on the property, saved from road killing, but I never see one... :(
    The toad female is gorgeous - although I don't believe everyone would think of it on this term!! LOL!
    And of course a special "bravo" for the Sparrowhawk this guy is a real must!!
    Congrats for this post!
    Enjoy your sunday, Richard!

    1. Thank you, Noushka. I'd no idea that this was a female Toad.

      It's very rare to see a Hedgehog in daylight, but they do seem to come out soon after dark. I usually detect them by the rustle of the leaves that make when moving around.

      Sadly I can't make the most of the sunshine (and no wind!!!) that we're having today as I'm going to be busy with a small project in my garden. I hope that you do better than I will !!

  5. Wow,amazing Garden shoot,love the Sparrowhawk,don,t see that many.
    Love the fox and Hedgehog Video,well impressed,would love to have them in garden.

    1. Thank you, John. We feel very privileged to have them in our garden!

  6. Every one has said WOW, but for want of a better word I will also say WOW :-) Fabulous photos, I thought after seeing the Sparrow-hawk at the top that things could not get better, maybe they didn't, but they certainly equalled it. Love the toad, the Long-tailed tit oh I love them all. I managed to see the last video, our connection is slow so I generally do not even try. I was amazed that the hedgehogs and the fox do not worry about each other. Well done Richard a fabulous diary of your garden in July. Have a good week Diane

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Diane.

      Our internet connection is meant to be fast, but at certain times of the week it slows down to such an extent that I can't watch YouTube videos either and get an error message. It's very frustrating at times!

      Our week has got off to a lousy start weather-wise. It's cold and a bit windy, with continual rain. We even had to put the heating on yesterday! I'm hoping that they have got the forecast right and that it's going to be warmer and sunnier later in the week!

  7. Hi Richard! On the first picture is our favorite bird of prey. Beautiful picture! Anyway, all the photos are very nice. Congratulations :-)
    Have a happy new week!

    1. Thank you, Michał and Piotr. I do like Sparrowhawks, but prefer it when they are not in my garden - even if it does give me photo opportunities!

      I hope you have a splendid week too!

  8. Hello Richard,
    Amazing captures you make for as what I have seen until now. And for sure I will try to see them all. Therefore I follow you as not to miss your new blogs you will publish in the future. I live in Belgium and love to go out in nature as well to try to capture the beauty of things I encouter here.

    1. Thank you, Roos, for your kind words. I've had a look at your work and am extremely impressed. Your ceramics are fabulous!

      I'm hoping, one day, to return to Belgium. It's been far too long!

      Best wishes from a sunny (at last!) England - - - Richard

  9. If I had a beautiful garden such as yours filled with these wondrous creatures, why would I go anywhere else! Absolutely lovely residents, Richard, even the Sparrowhawk! Congratulations on the Willow Warbler and Whitethroat visitors. Those butterflies are brilliant and the caterpillar is stunning!

    I'm with Noushka, that toad is gorgeous! (She already knows I'm a bit weird.....)

    I really enjoyed your videos and as another poster commented was glad to see that the fox and hedgehog play well together.

    Sounds as if you could use a bit of our warm (okay, it's HOT) weather. I'll send some your way.

    Thank you so very much for sharing your garden and superb photographs!

    All the best. - Wally

    1. Hi Wally. Thank you for your very kind words. I have to put you right on one aspect - our garden is not beautiful, although they say that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. It might be 'beautiful' to the wildlife but it's full of weeds and an absolute mess otherwise, and in great need of some TLC. In fact, I'm going to have to take a few days out to try and tidy things up a bit very soon (probably starting today!).

      Thank you for sending your warm weather our way. The first of it is just arriving - sadly, born on strong winds at present!

      Best wishes - - - Richard


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