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Tuesday, 19 May 2020

The Lockdown Garden - Week 20, 11th-17th May, 2020

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.

Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - garden on 12/05/2020
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.

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
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)  - garden on 14/05/2020
We haven't seen much of Robin lately, so were delighted when this one turned up.

Robin (Erithacus rubecula) - garden on 14/05/2020
This Collared Dove is a juvenile, as witnessed by the lack of collar. 

Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) (juvenile) - garden on 14/05/2020
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) (male) - 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!

Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica) (male) - garden on 14/05/2020
Friday, 15th May

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:-

Blackbird (Turdus merula) (female) - garden on 16/05/2020
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!

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) (juvenile) - 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.

Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) - garden on 16/05/2020
Sunday, 17th May

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!

Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) - garden on 17/05/2020
We ended the week with a total of just 17 bird species noted visiting. 

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
Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) - from garden on 04/04/2020
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.

Shoulder Stripe (Earophila badiata) - from garden on 07/04/2020
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:-

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

Yellow Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria) - 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.

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


  1. Lovely set of photos Richard. Very envious of your recordings at night. Glad you managed to get out and hopefully you can return and get that lens on a dragon. I look forward to it. Take care.

    1. Thank you for those kind words, Marc. Sorry for the late reply - I've been busy sorting through over a thousand frames I shot on Wednesday, including a dragon or two!

      Best wishes - take great care - - - Richard

  2. Like you, Richard, I find the Stock Dove, to be a very appealing member of the family, and I can well imagine your delight in having it as a visitor to the backyard. Thanks for the moth posed on the leaf. If only all my wishes could be so speedily fulfilled! Kudos to you for taking care of a sick hedgehog; I hope the rehab people are able to restore it to good health. Now that you have finally made your first foray back into the great outdoors, perhaps more will soon follow. I have no doubt it gave you a great boost to be out and about again. Take good care. All the best, David.

    1. Hi David. I checked with the Hedgehog Rescue Centre today. I'm delighted to report that the Hedgehog is feeding well and is going to survive. Sadly, however, there is nothing that can be done with its broken leg and I've been told that it will not be able to be released into the wild again.

      Sorry for the late reply. I had a couple of hours out on Wednesday, and took too many photos and have been somewhat tied up trying to process them between all my other activities/duties. Where does time go to these days?

  3. Hi Richard! Wonderful posting. Interesting moths!

    1. Thank you. Anne. I do enjoy seeing what moths visit the garden, but it is a bit time-consuming sorting them out and identifying them!

  4. Hello Richard, great report of the birds, Fox, hedgehogs, and Moths. So much visitors in your garden they must feel safe there. The webcam images ot the Fox and Hegdehogs are great to watch. Good job you were able to have it taken by the Animal resque. I hope he will make it.
    All the best,

    1. I very much enjoy the wildlife that visits our garden, Roos, and hopefully it will become more attractive to wildlife if plans to install a small pond next month come to fruition.

      As mentioned in my reply to David, above, it seems the Hedgehog will live, but in a protected environment as it will not be able to be released into the wild because of the leg injury.

      Take great care. Best wishes - - - Richard

  5. Hello Richard
    great photos, life is finally loosening up again so you can do something else again but be careful and take care of yourself, nice report
    Regards Frank

    1. Thank you, Frank. I'm really enjoying being able to get out into the wild again, but assure you that I am being extremely careful when I do so. I have even managed to find a way of putting fuel in the car without exposing myself to any significant risk, by paying for the fuel with my phone while sitting in the car!

      Take great care yourself, and stay safe - - - Richard

  6. Hi Richard, beautiful birds and insects in your garden. greetings Caroline

    1. Thank you, Caroline - I do my best to encourage them to visit! Best wishes - - - Richard

  7. Hi Richard,
    yes there are now some relaxations and that is also the case in the Netherlands.
    We can or may do something more, but I still find a scary virus. If people are allowed to do something more, it is immediately busy again everywhere.
    The movies of the hedgehog and the fox underneath are really nice movies :-)
    The Rhododendron is really fantastic !!! what a beautiful you have!
    The birds Putter, sparrow and pigeons are very nice. The moths with their beautiful antennae are beautiful and also beautifully photographed.
    A very nice blog with a beautiful variety of flora and fauna. I enjoyed it again.

    Greetings, Helma
    Stay safe and healthy.

    1. Hello, Helma. I share your concern that this virus is going to increase its dreadful activities again with the relaxation of social restrictions. My wife and I will continue to be extremely careful until WE think it is safe to return to more social ways of life.

      I'm so pleased to know that you enjoyed this blog post. Kind comments like yours make life seem more worthwhile in these difficult times.

      Take great care, and stay safe and well - - - Richard

  8. Now I am not sure I have seen a Stock Dove, we have the Wood Pigeon here and the Collard Dove. As for the robin, we have one here always over winter, but as soon as spring arrives it disappears returning usually in November. I hope the hedgehog is OK. I tried to look at your videos but with our WiFi speed I have no chance, they just do not load. Fabulous set of photos and I just love your moths.

    Best wishes to you both. Keep well and stay safe, Diane

    1. Just seen your reply to David, delighted the hedgehog will survive but sad it will not return to the wild. Never the less, thanks to you it may still have a good life ahead of it. Diane

    2. We have not seen a Robin in our garden for a week and a half now, Diane - a sad state of affairs. A recent report from the county ornithological society had the highest number of Collared Doves seen in the county during the month being in our garden!

      Yes, it is sad about the Hedgehog, but I know it is in good hands and will, hopefully, still be able to associate with other Hedgehogs.

      My very best wishes to you both. Take great care - - - Richard

  9. Two cups of coffee later, I realized I had begun hearing the voice of Sir David Attenborough in my head as I read your narrative.

    What a wonderful series of adventures and photographs, Richard! Thank you so very much for sharing with us!

    I especially enjoyed your moth images. Not an easy task to photograph them well (for me, at least). The film clips were quite interesting and both Gini and I were bowled over by your outstanding Rhododendron!

    Good job on working out a way to help the hedgehog. Not everyone would have been as persistent.

    I know it must have felt good to have a small outing. Here's hoping we will all be able to increase our activities sooner rather than later.

    All is good here and we hope you and Lindsay stay safe and continue to enjoy life!

    1. If I thought I had a thousandth of the qualities of Sir David, I'd be over the moon. That man is, without a shadow of doubt in my mind, the greatest hero in the world today.

      David G. has gently complained about me photographing moths without them being in a natural setting. However, without an extreme stroke of luck, finding one that is photographable in the wild is nigh-on impossible! It's difficult enough getting them to stay still on a bit of card after keeping them in a cool place for an hour. Many, particularly the smaller ones, will fly the instant that you try to move them.

      We're doing fine here, in spite of the lockdown, and finding plenty of ways to keep ourselves, and each other, entertained!

      Delighted to know that you're both doing OK there. Take great care and stay safe - - - Richard

  10. Sadness in is the Hedgehog, love the Fox. And, the Stock Dove, I love it.

    1. Thank you, Bob. I'm pleased to say we still have two Hedgehogs visiting and they both look happy and well. The Fox also returned last night after being away for nearly a week.

      Take great care. Best wishes - - - Richard


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