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Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Garden Observations - 13th to 26th July, 2020

The past two weeks have been somewhat lacking in observations, partly due to weather, but mainly due to preoccupation with other matters - particularly in the last week - and the frustration is not over yet, although we might be getting somewhere. We did, however, end the period with some excitement!

WEEK 29 - 13th to 19th July 

Monday, 13th  July

The trail cams showed we had a visit by the Fox in the early hours of the morning. This was the last time we saw evidence of a visit by the Fox, possibly because I have taken steps to prevent too much sunflower heart spillage from the bird feeders, which the Fox was 'hoovering up'. The Hedgehogs were favouring them too, and a diet of sunflower hearts is detrimental to the health of Hedgehogs - and Foxes also?
Tuesday, 14th July

This day's highlight was the arrival of 8 Long-tailed Tits that noisily and busily hung around for a few minutes, but were not photographed.

Wednesday, 15th July

The trail cams showed that, in the early hours of the morning, two Hedgehogs had had a brief encounter. In the last part of this video clip you can see one hog passing the other that it has pushed off the low wall and is curled up at the base of the wall - it later departed unharmed. The sound from this particular trail cam is poor, but you will probably hear typical hog noises if you turn the sound up.

That evening, a trail cam caught a hog out unusually early, in daylight.
When the two hogs met up later that evening, their approach seemed cautious but less antagonistic.
Thursday, 16th July

I was doing some fairly heavy pruning of the ivy at the front of the house, when I found an Old Lady hiding in it. The Old Lady is one of our larger moths, and has a rather subtle beauty. They are said to not be attracted to light, but we do seem to get them quite frequently in the moth trap!

Old Lady (Mormo maura) - garden on 16/07/2020
That afternoon we had a Red Admiral butterfly in our garden which, I believe, was our first of this summer. Sadly, I was on the phone when it visited!

Friday, 17th July

I managed to have a little time in the garden with the camera this day as we had a return visit by a male Large Red Damselfly, now named 'Big Red'! 

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (male) - garden on 17/07/2020
As on the occasion of his previous visit, Freddy the hoverfly was there to greet him!

hoverfly (Helophilus pendulus) (male) - garden on 17/07/2020
You may find yourself returning to the above two images when you see something that will appear later in this post!

Saturday, 18th July

I have mentioned in previous posts that, although we frequently see Carrion Crow from the house, it is comparatively rarely that one visits the garden. This was one of those rare occasions.

Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)  - garden on 18/07/2020
In summary (weekly maxima in brackets):-

We observed 3 species of mammal visit : Hedgehog (2) ; Red Fox (1) ; Grey Squirrel (2)

We observed 5 species of butterfly visit : Small Tortoiseshell (1) ; Large White (1) ; Small White (3) ; Peacock (1) ; Red Admiral (1)

We observed 1 species of Odonata visit : Large Red Damselfly (1)

We observed just 16 species of bird visit : Blackbird (3) ; Bullfinch (2) ; Chaffinch (2) ; Crow, Carrion (1) ; Dove, Collared (4) ; Dove, Stock (2) ; Dunnock (2) ; Goldfinch (9) ; Greenfinch (1) ; Robin (3) ; Sparrow, House (3) ; Starling (1) ; Tit, Blue (3) ; Tit, Great (2) ; Tit, Long-tailed (8) ; Woodpigeon (6). 

WEEK 30 - 20th to 26th July

Tuesday, 21st July

In spite of Lindsay having a 'tombola number' birthday this day, I did mange a few photos.

Gatekeeper butterfly is not a usual visitor to our garden, so I was pleased to see one this day. They seem to be having an extremely good year this year.

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) (male) - garden on 21/07/2020
A few weeks ago, an on-line friend, Pete Woodruff (see 'Birds2blog' on my sidebar) published a photo of a strange swimming 'blob' that he'd seen in his garden pond, asking if anyone knew what it was. This day, I found something similar in my pond. I didn't see a reply he'd got with an ID, so contacted Pete to ask if he'd found out what it was. Pete kindly responded to say that it was something usually referred to as a Rat-tailed Maggot, and that it was the larva of a hoverfly species. So out came the book and, sure enough, it seems that this was the larva of  Helophilus pendulus - in other words, 'son of Freddy' shown above! Who'd have thought that something like this, shown below, could turn into something as smart as the hoverfly shown earlier.

Rat-tailed Maggot (Helophilus pendulus) (larva) - garden on 21/07/2020
Wednesday, 22nd July

In the morning, I found a Willow Beauty moth (large, and very common in our garden) on the wall.

Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) (male) - garden on 22/07/2020
The Carrion Crow paid us yet another visit and stayed preening in the back of our Black Elder for almost two hours! It never positioned itself in a photographable position, however. 

We had Gatekeeper butterfly yet again, but I only photographed a Peacock.

Peacock (Aglais io) - garden on 22/07/2020
Friday, 24th July

The garden trail cams showed that we had a late-lingering Hedghog in the garden that was up well past its bed-time. 
That afternoon, whilst discussing work we needed doing with a tree surgeon in our garden, I had the frustration of seeing a female Southern Hawker dragonfly that seemed to be disturbed by our presence, and a Holly Blue butterfly which settled on the Ivy.  I wonder if the dragonfly might have visited our pond, had we not been there?

Sunday, 26th July

Whilst out in the garden early in the morning, topping up the bird feeders and collecting the trail cams, I heard a distinctive sound which instantly said distant Green Woodpecker to me. However, it was not the customary yaffle of the Green Woodpecker, but a a single note every few seconds, and with the same pitch as the usual yaffle. I was unsure, but just in case (knowing how nervous Green Woodpeckers are) I hastened back into the house, and started keeping an eye open from my study window. A few minutes later, what should fly into the Black Elder at the bottom of the garden, but a Green Woodpecker. This is only the second time I have seen this species in our garden, the last time being in December 2016. This latest one was a juvenile, and not being able to see the colour of the moustache in my photos, I can't tell what sex it was. Sadly, I only got record shots at that distance and with all the intervening branches - the light was difficult too!

Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) (juvenile) - garden on 26/07/2020
Later in the day we had two second-brood Holly Blue butterflies visit, and I managed some shots of one - a female (as shown by the rarely-seen dark wingtips, the wings usually being held closed) - on the ivy.

Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) (female - second brood) - garden on 26/07/2020
It had been a splendid end to the week.

In summary (weekly maxima in brackets):-

We observed 2 species of mammal visit : Hedgehog (1) ; Grey Squirrel (1)

We observed 6 species of butterfly visit : Large White (1) ; Small White (4) ; Peacock (4) ; Red Admiral (1) ; Holly Blue (2) ; Gatekeeper (1)

We observed 2 species of Odonata visit : Large Red Damselfly (1) ; Southern Hawker (1)

We observed 17 species of bird visit : Blackbird (3) ; Bullfinch (2) ; Chaffinch (2) ; Crow, Carrion (1) ; Dove, Collared (3) ; Dove, Stock (2) ; Dunnock (2) ; Goldfinch (7) ; Greenfinch (2) ; Magpie (1) ; Robin (2) ; Sparrow, House (6) ; Tit, Blue (4) ; Tit, Great (2) ; Tit, Long-tailed (2) ; Woodpecker, Green (1) ; Woodpigeon (5). 

This ends my report on two weeks that were a bit hin, but had their highlights. I believe my next report will feature a visit to a local site without public access in order to check on the odonata situation. This was the onlt time that I managed to get out in the past two weeks! I'm hoping things will improve.

In the meantime, stay safe. Thank you for dropping by. 


  1. Nice to see your Large Red Damselfly has returned. Just need a female now and you could be in business. Lovely trail cam shots. Something I really should invest in. Take care.

    1. Keeping my fingers crossed for ovipositing in the pond, Marc, but nothing seen yet. I guess my most likely species is Southern Hawker.

      The quality of trail cams is very variable, Marc. My most expensive one gives the worst night images, and has mediocre sensitivity. You can get good images with a trail cam at about £80, but some of them fail within a year or two if used every night, as mine are.

      Take great care - - - Richard

  2. Excellent photos. Good to see the Helophilus larva. Often see the adults at my pond & no doubt breed there.

    1. Thank you. I was pleased to have managed the shots of the larva as they don't seem to surface very often. I was quite surprised at the complexity of their structure when I looked at the images.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  3. Regarding the diet of the fox, Richard, I don't know the answer as to whether sunflower hearts would be detrimental, but here on several occasions I have seen foxes nibbling on vegetation, even during the times of the year when prey should be plentiful and readily accessible, i.e. not concealed beneath deep snow. Perhaps leaves, berries, bark and seeds provide roughage as well as essential nutrients. (I see a little research in the offing this morning!) On my various visits to the UK, I have never seen a Green Woodpecker at a bird feeder, and I expect that you were bouncing with delight at this regal guest. That larvae looks like something out of a horror movies dealing with alien blobs or something! Sort of like Boris Johnson!

    1. The danger with an excess of sunflower hearts, David, is that it can lead to a calcium deficiency in Hedgehogs and metabolic bone disease, so the bones become weak and brittle.

      I don't think that Green Woodpeckers ever come to feeders. They are, to the best of my knowledge, insectivores, and primarily are found on grass (anything from clipped lawns to rough meadows) looking for ants to eat.

      Never thought of Boris in connection with a Rat-tailed Maggot, but can see that 'Rat' and 'Maggot' are not far off the mark!

      Best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

    2. In terms of foraging habits, Northern Flicker here would correspond with Green Woodpecker, but flickers do not turn their noses up at a suet feeder!

    3. Perhaps our Green Woodpeckers do too David, and I've just not seen that behaviour - which wouldn't surprise me at all as my sightings of the species are very few and far between!

  4. I am still impressed with your wonderful images of the Large Red Damselfly!

    Your collection of butterfly photographs is stunning! You're even winning me over to calling the Hoverfly "handsome".

    We hope to be back in our "normal" routine soon. Although we're scheduled to have a tropical storm this weekend. Just another week in paradise!

    Take good care!

    1. Thank you, Wally. I hope that the tropical storm did not disrupt your comfort too much and that you are able to enjoy your paradise to the full.

      Best wishes to you and Gini - - - Richard

  5. Hello Richard
    The green woodpecker is a guest in my garden every day but is always so hidden behind the bushes that a photo is not possible, the hoverfly is photographed fantastically, these eyes .. wow
    Regards Frank

    1. You are very lucky to have regular visits from a Green Woodpecker, Frank. I maybe only see one thre or four times a year - anywhere! They seem to be very nervous birds and difficult to photograph.

      Best wishes- stay safe - - - Richard

  6. Hello Richard, wow a Green Woodpecker in your garden is something. Then the vissits of the hedgehogs and fox still so much interesting. The butterflies are beautyful. The story of the larvae of the hooverfly is creepy. Indeed unbelievable what it will be in the end.
    Your photos are again most wonderful and a joy to look at.
    Stay healthy and take care,

    1. Hello Roos. Sadly, the Fox seems to have completely stopped visiting now. Lindsay is happy with this as she was worried that she might go into the garden and meet it - whereas to do that would make my day (or even year!).

      Thank you for your kind words. Stay safe in these difficult times. My very best wishes - - - Richard

  7. Hi Richard, beautiful photos. You see very much in your garden. Have a nice weekend. Greetings Caroline

    1. Thank you, Caroline, the weekend is going well so far - I hope that yours is too!

      Take good care and stay safe - - - Richard

  8. Hi Richard, You have been busy while I've been eating my heart out trying to fix my computer. I seem to have lost my hogs. I think they must be over at your place visiting. Stay safe. Mike.

    1. So pleased to see that you're back on line, Mike. If I've got your hogs, I think you've got my Fox! Take great care - - - Richard

  9. Beautiful images Richard. The video's are never ended, and why not. Love them.

    1. Thank you, Bob. I'll probably be laying off the videos for a while, unless something special happens, especially as Diane (below) doesn't have a strong enough internet to watch them!

      Stay safe - - - Richard

  10. Lovely series of photos I wish our internet was good enough to watch videos:-(( I love your macro of the hoverfly, brilliant.
    Keep safe and well, very best wishes Diane

    1. As mentioned to Bob, above, Diane, I shall try and avoid disturbing your sensabilities by leaving out videos in my next garden blog post - unless something ultra-exciting happens, of course!

      I'm more and more enjoying the revelations from macro work, but will never be good as I can't be bothered to set up with tripods and flash, etc.

      Stay safe - - - Richard


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