Monday 31 August 2009

Raided Wasp Nest

There is not much happening in the garden at the moment and not really any colour. We cannot plant any of the usual pretty flowers in an English Country Garden because most things we plant are eaten by the deer. Although there is a riot of colour in the spring, by late summer very little is flowering and the garden is mostly shades of green.

If anyone has any suggestions about late-flowering plants that are not eaten by deer, I would be very interested to hear about them.

I had a walk around the garden today and there are still plenty of butterflies - mostly whites and speckled woods. However, the most interesting find today was the wasp nest which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. When I first found it, it was a small hole about 3 cms diameter. This weekend I found that it has been raided. Quite a big hole has been dug in an effort to reach the nest, but I don't think the marauder was successful because of the tree roots in the way. If you click on this image to enlarge it you will see that there are still plenty of wasps making their way in and out.

Wasp Nest dug out by Badger I would guess that the culprit is a badger. I believe that badgers eat wasp larvae and sometimes wasps, too. This wasp nest is right next to the badger latrine, which was probably not a very sensible place to build the nest!

Monday 24 August 2009

Sparrowhawk with a Sore Head

Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nicusI was sitting in my office today when there was an enormous bang on the window. I rushed outside to find this Sparrowhawk stunned on the patio. I really didn't think it would survive. I don't know how it did not break its neck. But, luckily, after a few minutes it managed to get up and fly away.

This is probably a juvenile and possibly a female.

What a magnificent creature! However, the reason it was here was to catch one of the small birds which feed on my bird feeders. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that one of the little birds survived today at the expense of the Sparrowhawk.

Sunday 23 August 2009

Enormous Moth

Poplar hawk-moth - Laothoe populiThis evening we saw a huge moth on the window. It is probably the biggest moth that I have ever seen in the UK with a wingspan of almost 3 inches (>7cms).

It was a Poplar Hawk-moth. It is easily identified because its hind-wings are held forward of the forewings, which can be seen in this photo. Also just visible is the red patch on its hindwing, which is usually hidden.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Another New Wildflower

Sowbread - Cyclamen hederifoliumAnother first from the garden today - a cyclamen which goes by the rather unflattering name of sowbread (from the time that they used to feed the corms to pigs).

This pretty little flower was growing alone on top of a long straight stem. The leaves apparently appear after the flower.

Friday 21 August 2009

Nighttime Visitor

Common ToadWe don't often see toads here, probably because they are noctural. I am sure that there are plenty of them around. I found this one tonight on the driveway, quite a long way from the pond. I hope it can find it's way back.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Just a Big Kid

Roe Deer KidSince one of the roe deer died in the garden a couple of weeks ago, the others seem to have been visiting less frequently, or perhaps only at night. Maybe they sense danger here?

However, the fallen apples are proving too much of a temptation and mother and kid were back again today. I have only just found out that a young roe deer is called a "kid". I thought they were fawns.

The kid is big now - almost as big as its mother. But, it's spots are still showing faintly. This kid is about 3 months old now. It was born in May.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Cutting the Hay

Red KiteThis week the farmer next door has been working very hard to cut the hay in the field in front of our house before the promised rain. This means rich picking for the birds!

The buzzards and red kites have been swooping down behind the tractor for an easy meal. There have also been dozens (possibly hundreds?) of swallows circling around and skimming low over the field in search of the insects who have lost their home.

It is great to watch. However, I am not good at photographing birds in flight. This photo of a red kite is the best I could manage.

Sunday 16 August 2009

German Wasp Nest

German Wasps - vespula germanicaI found a nest of German Wasps (vespula germanica) in a hole in the ground under one of the trees in the garden.

They are very busy, in and out all day. German Wasps are very similar to Common Wasps, but they can be identified by a triangle of three small black spots on their face - if you can get close enough to see them! Common Wasps have a black anchor shape on their face.

Jay featherI also found this very pretty little feather. It is tiny - only about 2 inches (5 cms) long. It comes from a Jay and is responsible for that blue flash that is usually all you see when a Jay flies by!

Saturday 15 August 2009

More New Moths

Sallow Kitten MothMore new moths this week. Fairly common ones, but I have either not noticed them before or have not been able to identify them - straw dot moth, sallow kitten moth and brimstone moth. The moth to the left is the Sallow Kitten which is often found near goat willow trees.

I mentioned previously that this is a good year for butterflies, but the same seems to be true for moths.

I also managed a rather nice photo of a black arches moth.

Black Arches Moth

Sunday 9 August 2009

Autumn arriving already?

There are already signs that autumn is approaching - so early in the first week of August. The leaves are starting to change colour on some of the trees, especially cherry and chestnut.


The blackberries are ripening and the apple trees are heavy with fruit.

However, the butterflies are still very active. Lots of whites and common blues around today.

Friday 7 August 2009

Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods, Laetiporus sulphureusI found another fungus new to the garden today - Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) or sometimes called Sulphur Polypore. It is edible and apparently has the texture of chicken - hence the name. Not something I would like to try.

Lots of other fungi around - today I found 3 types of bolete, Brown Birch Bolete - Leccinum scabrum, and two others which I am not sure about.

I should also stress that it is not advisable to eat any fungus unless it has been identified as edible by an expert.

This week has also been a good week for birds. It was very quiet at the feeders for the last couple of months. They all seemed to be very busy nesting. However, all the little ones have returned and been hyperactive all week.

There have also been two juvenile green woodpeckers picking ants out of the lawn, three Jays which is unusual because they are usually fairly solitary. They have been very active in the apples trees and on the lawn. The grey wagtail that usually lives by the pond also made an appearance outside the house.

Thursday 6 August 2009

His Lucky Day?

Roe DeerHe thinks it may be his lucky day?

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Roe Deer Mating Season

It's that time of year again - the roe deer buck has turned up and is staying very close to the doe. It is quite amusing to watch. He stays about 20-30 metres away from her. If she sits down, so does he.

Hopefully there will be some new little ones next May.

Sunday 2 August 2009

Peacocks on Buddleia

Peacock butterfly
Busy day for peacock butterflies. They could not resist the buddleia flowers.
Peacock butterfly

Saturday 1 August 2009

Lucky Escape!

A stock dove came down our chimney today. Luckily the fireguard kept it in the fireplace so we were easily able to catch it and take it outside. We released it and it seemed unhurt.

Horrible day today considering it is supposed to be the middle of summer. Rain on and off all day and not much chance of photographs.