Here we are again, with a report from a week that was another lockdown week for those of us that are in the vulnerable category. Progress is being made, however, in the form of a small relaxation of rules which means that I'm technically allowed to go out for recreation. To that end, for the first time in over eight weeks, I left the premises on Thursday just to see what the shape of the world out there was.
Monday, 11th May
It was a rather cold and windy day and little of interest was observed in the garden. Just 12 bird species put a foot down in the garden, with nothing out of the ordinary being seen. A Hedgehog was seen on the trail cams, and a Grey Squirrel was seen during the day. This was a day without any photography, other than that on the trail cams.
Tuesday, 12th May
It was a shade warmer this day, but there was still a cool breeze.
The number of visiting birds was up to a level not seen for a while, with 15 species. These included a Stock Dove. We had a pair visiting most days during the winter, but this dropped down to a single bird, and we'd not seen this one for a couple of weeks so it was a pleasant surprise. I love the irridescence on the neck of these otherwise plain birds which changes colour according to the light, as can be seen in the next two shots.
The number of birds has been boosted by the arrival of newly fledged birds including many House Sparrows. We had two adult sparrows with nine youngsters this day. One of the youngsters nearly fell victim to a male Sparrowhawk, but showed encouraging survival skills in its evasive flight-path before diving into cover in the dense rhododendron bush in the garden. This was the first observed visit from a Sparrowhawk since 4th March.
|Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - garden on 12/05/2020|
Non-avian visitors included a Small White butterfly, a Hedgehog, and a Grey Squirrel.
Wednesday, 13th May
The trail cams revealed visits by a Hedgehog and a dog Red Fox. A Grey Squirrel visited during the day.
Here's a clip of the Hedgehog:-
And here's a clip of the Red Fox:-
The number of species of bird visiting dropped again to 13. I suspect that the Sparrowhawk had been busy again, this time with more luck, as a multitude of feathers (seemingly from a House Sparrow) was found on the lawn.
Thursday, 14th May
This sunny but cool day was a bit of a red-letter day as I left my home for the first time in two months! With the relaxation of regulations I decided that it was time to see what the world looks like in lockdown. I went for a 20 minute drive, and even took my camera with me. However, I didn't get out of the car on this occasion and, although I stopped at the entrance to my 'local patch', nothing was seen to photograph.
The trail cams caught a Hedgehog and dog Fox again, and we had a Grey Squirrel once more. It seems the fox might be a bit undernourished as it appears to be rather thin, and spent quite a long while picking up sunflower hearts spilt from the feeders.
We had 13 species of bird visit, but these did include a Jackdaw. This is a common bird but a very rare visitor to the garden. Sadly, we were having our evening meal in the conservatory when we saw it, and I didn't have my camera to hand!
I did take a few photos that day, however, while Lindsay and I were having a coffee in the garden. The Rhododendron was at its flowering peak that day.
|Rhododendron var. - garden on 14/05/2020|
We haven't seen much of Robin lately, so were delighted when this one turned up.
|Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - garden on 14/05/2020|
This Collared Dove is a juvenile, as witnessed by the lack of collar.
|Robin (Erithacus rubecula) - garden on 14/05/2020|
|Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) (juvenile) - garden on 14/05/2020|
The moth trap went out that night, but only two moths were caught -
a rather boring male Light Brown Apple Moth (an invasive species
believed to have been accidentally introduced from Australia in the
1930s) and a relatively exciting male Muslin Moth (only my second ever
to the trap). Prompted by my dear friend David, as it was relatively docile, I've tried a shot of the Muslin Moth with it on a leaf as well as on my usual bit of green card. The females of this species are of a pure white where the males are brown - so this is a male!
|House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) (male) - garden on 14/05/2020|
Friday, 15th May
|Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica) (male) - garden on 14/05/2020|
The garden cams showed that the dog Fox had visited again. They also showed that the Hedgehogs had been busy, with at least three visiting and having a bit of a disagreement.
Bird species visiting stood at 13 in number, but there was some excitement in the mix. Other than Magpies, we have very few visits from corvids. However, lately we've been seeing Carrion Crow and Rook in the neighbourhood. This day, however, we not only had a Carrion Crow visit, but a Jackdaw too! Of course, it was while we were having lunch in the conservatory and the camera was not to hand! Also of note that day was a count of at least 23 Starlings.
No photographs were taken in the garden that day, but I did have a walk in the countryside for the first time in two whole months - more on that one, below!
Saturday, 16th May
The trail cams showed visits by the Fox and a Hedgehog.
We observed visits from 14 species of bird, including a pair of Stock Doves, and the Carrion Crow once more. However, few photos were taken - these were from while we were sitting outside having a coffee:-
The garden seemed to be full of newly-fledged House Sparrows and Starlings this week. Here's a shot of a young House Sparrow, flapping its wings begging for food from a parent - an action that I also find appealing!
|Blackbird (Turdus merula) (female) - garden on 16/05/2020|
I also attempted some photos of this bee, which I think is a Common Carder Bumblebee, but didn't do very well - please correct me if I'm wrong with the ID. I'd be a little more certain if it didn't appear that it's a bit early for this species.
|House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) (juvenile) - garden on 16/05/2020|
Sunday, 17th May
|Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) - garden on 16/05/2020|
The garden cams revealed yet another visit by the Fox. I'd moved the one cam to a position a little nearer to where the Fox had been snuffling up the spilt sunflower hearts.
What was disturbing, however, was seeing that one of the three hedgehogs that was on the cameras was clearly in need of help, as you can see here:-
Obviously, my mind turned to what could be done to help this poor soul, but I quickly realised that staying up all night in the hope of catching it to take it somewhere for treatment was not an option in my current, rather fragile, state.
The solution came later that day when we were in the conservatory having lunch. A Magpie arrived and started behaving a little strangely. It then dropped to the ground behind a shrub and we wondered if it was after a fledgeling bird. However, the limping Hedgehog came out from the other side of the shrub. I got Lindsay to keep an eye on it while I got a box to put it in together with some straw - it seemed as light as a feather, so clearly in serious trouble. I then went to try and contact the Hedgehog Rescue Centre in Leicester that I have had several dealings with before - usually to 'adopt' a rehabilitated hog. Sadly, the website reported that they were full and unable to take in more hogs.
I continued to search, and found the Tamworth Hedgehog and Bird Rescue Centre and contacted them. They were extremely helpful and only 14 miles (22 km) from my home. Having explained the situation, a social-distancing arrangement for dropping off the hog was arranged, and this worked perfectly. I'm now waiting to hear how this dear little creature is faring and keeping my fingers crossed, but suspect the situation is not good because of the combination of injury and lack of weight. My thanks to these people for their good work.
We had a total of 13 species of bird visit that day, including the Carrion Crow again - and this time I managed a record shot of it in the garden!
We ended the week with a total of just 17 bird species noted visiting.
|Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) - garden on 17/05/2020|
Moths - 16th March to 19th April
Here are a few of the moths from the garden in the period between returning from the Isles of Scilly in March and starting my weekly garden reports in April.
|Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) - from garden on 17/03/2020|
|Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) - from garden on 17/03/2020|
|Beautiful Plume (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla) - from garden on 24/03/2020|
|Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) - from garden on 24/03/2020|
That last one may look as if it had died, but I assure you it was very much alive, and flew shortly after this shot was taken! It's one of the few moths that holds its wings closed above its body when resting.
|Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) - from garden on 04/04/2020|
That brings me to the end of the 'catch-up' features on this blog. From now on in, I'm hoping to append short accounts of trips out during the Covid crisis - like this next one:-
|Shoulder Stripe (Earophila badiata) - from garden on 07/04/2020|
My First Trip Out Into Nature in Two Months - on Friday 15th May
Having been self-isolating at home for two months and not leaving the house and garden at all during that time, with the lifting of regulations, I decided to put a toe in the water on Thursday 14th May. I had a 20-minute drive around to see what the world looked like under Covid conditions, and found it to be much as expected. This gave me the confidence to have a proper trip out with my camera the following day.
I had been disturbed by the thought that I might not see a single dragonfly this year, due to lockdown conditions. I chose, therefore, to visit a local lake in the hope of finding some. This location was appealing in that when I visit I usually park where no one else does, and that I never see more than two or three people while I'm there. It was a bit cool and breezy, although there was some occasional sun, so I didn't hold out too much hope.
In the event, I didn't see another soul while I was there, and the nearest thing to a dragonfly I saw was a teneral damselfly that drifted up from the grass several metres in front of me and flew up over the trees. There was absolutely no chance of an ID on this one! I spent time carefully seaching the perimeter of the lake, but could find absolutely no further sign of any dragonfly or damselfly emergence.
This place is not usually good for birds, although I have had the pleasure of seeing a Hobby once a few years ago, and a Spotted Flycatcher here once last year. It can be good for butterflies at the northern end, and twice I have seen a Grass Snake in the water. This time I was not to be lucky. I managed some poor shots of a couple of Coots, some shots of a very tatty Peacock butterfly, and a few shots of a fly which I subsequently managed to ID.
|Coot (Fulica atra) - Heather Lake|
|Peacock (Aglais io) - Heather Lake|
The visit might not have been a success from a sightings or photographic point of view, but it gave me the confidence that, if I choose my destinations carefully, I can get out into nature once more.
|Yellow Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria) - Heather Lake|
Thank you for your visit. What my next blog post might feature is in the lap of the gods!
In the meantime, take great care and stay safe - - - Richard