Sunday, 12 June 2011

Long time no blog - part 2: wildlife

The garden bird count has inched ever closer to the magic century - we're on 99! 98 was an unseen Reed Warbler singing towards Linbrook Lake, and 99 was a flyover Mediterranean Gull, picked up on call.

But more of a feature has been the explosion of baby birds - we managed at least one and probably two broods of Blue Tits from our boxes/soffit boards, and our feeders are being thronged by Blue and Great Tit families, Nuthatch juniors, Great Spotted Woodpecker squeakers and even House Sparrow neonates - plus more besides. Mallard are regular on and near the pond, and we even had a pair of Gadwall drop in there one evening. On the reserve, it's been all about breeding action too - Common Terns are doing well (and regularly overfly the garden) and the Sand Martins are as abundant as they've ever been. On the downside, we've had just one Hobby sighting this spring.

Great Crested Grebe - the male from the breeding pair on Ivy Lake

Sand Martins doing what they do!

Insects have been well-represented - the dragonfly list has boomed, with Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser, Red-eyed, Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies on the pond, plus a superb Downy Emerald on the Reserve, and Hairy Dragonfly.

Downy Emerald at 1/1500th of a second

Four-spotted Chaser

Moth trapping has been fair - a full season's report will follow later! For now:

Pebble Hook-tip

Apart from the inevitable Rabbit population boom (not too much damage so far, touch wood!), the mammal highlights have been several Moles (all but one dead, alas, and the live one seen by Julia only - Simon still needs Mole as a lifer!) and undoubtedly two regular Foxes, one a chunky dog, the other a very slim young vixen, we think, who has been coming to feed right by the patio under floodlight. Fantastic stuff.

Baby Bunny

I'm ready for my close-up now!

Long time no blog - part 1: the garden

We've slipped badly into a habit of not doing our blog - or maybe the excuse is having had so much to do and enjoy? In no particular order, then....

New garden hardware additions have been legion: a lovely seating arbour by the pond (now largely planted up and surrounded by burgeoning plant life), a 10m trellis down the old fence line to giove a bit of height and shelter, and an SKW designed patent pallet compost bin system!

The veg bed is now fully rabbit-fenced, windbroken (?) and growing new potatoes (ate the first ones yesterday - superb!), onions, shallots, garlic, French beans, tomatoes, sweetcorn, courgettes, salad, broccoli and lots of willow whips!

Before planting - but note the ace fencing!

After - late May
And the Sweet Williams have been amazing

And here's a pond shot from some weeks ago, for comparison with a late summer photo to follow....

Spring pond - pre-tellis and pre-arbour! Note the apple trees blooming away happily....

While the spring has been marked by an absolutely absurd lack of rain (although as I write this, it is at last TEEMING down outside), and we've been watering new plants and trees like mad, we have seen so much growth and development - more encouraging and less daunting than just a few weeks ago!