Latest NewsFeb 2019
A Green Woodpecker digs in the snow for food.
A Roe Deer decides to check out our garden for something to nibble (apple trees and roses seem to be preferred!)
Update September 2018 -
the Roe Deer also likes Rhubarb,
Raspberry plants, Azaleas, Clematis, Plum trees, Runner beans and
French beans. Suspect they are coming into the garden due to the
drought limiting other food sources.
Major storm with snow and freezing rain. Here's a view through a patio door where rain has frozen on the outside.
Very cold weather brought a pair of Snipe to the garden; here's one feeding on the lawn.
And the da
y after in the snow...
BTO officials ringing birds including this Coal Tit at Arne.
And a juvenile deer that crossed the path right in front of us.
Great White Egret at Ham Wall
Guided trip with Naturetrek to the New Forest. Highlights included this insect. It's a quite rare hover fly called Pocota Personata
that imitates the look of a bumble bee as a self-defence method, seen here on the bark of a Beech tree.
We were also pleased to see a Cattle Egret being very friendly with some cattle at Keyhaven near Lymington.
31 March - Mistle Thrushes nesting in the garden - a first!
Visit to Ham Wall reserve
Glossy Ibis with Little Egret looking on.
January 2017 - visit to Greylake reserve
Our Moorhen chicks are doing well but here's a broken egg we
found in the grass - adults still trying! On 15 August we had a
very welcome visit by four Spotted Flycatchers, two adults feeding two
young. They stayed for a couple of hours.
This is my wooden model of a Dachshund - do you like it? It's
actually a piece of bark from our Eucalyptus tree I found in the grass.
I'm calling it Bark Art (geddit?)
We found another Wren's nest in the front porch, about 3 young
fledged. In June we had a visit from a pair of juvenile Mistle
Thrushes amd then on 22 July our resident Moorhens appeared with 5
chicks. We had almost given up this year after they had two
failures probably due to predation, but better late than never.
A great month for wildlife. Our camera bird box had been used as
a roost by a Blue Tit for some time and by 4 May had a nest with 10
eggs. The eggs hatched on 18 May and the chicks are all doing
well with both parents feeding them.
In 2010, a pair of Swallows built a nest over our back door and raised
young and since then the nest has been abandoned. This month a Wren
used it by building its own nest inside and raised at least 3 young.
They all left on 28 May and were seen around the patio.
On 31 May we joined a group organised by RSPB to "meet the dormouse"
near Swell Wood. We were very lucky to see a pair in a box and to
be able to hold them.
By the first week in April, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warbler were present together with Siskins - most unusual.
Swallows arrived on 12 April.
On 14 April a Blue Tit started a nest in the camera nest box, but at 1 May only used it for roosting. Monitoring continues!
Visit to Yarner Wood in Devon on 23 April - nice views of Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler (below).
Siskins have been regular visitors this month, in fact first
seen 14 Feb and then nearly every week to the present (4 April).
On 27 March on the bird feeder we had six Siskins - try saying that
Last October we had a female Sparrowhawk sitting on the bridge
(see below). This year we had a male Sparrowhawk - a smaller and
more colourful bird.
Insects are the theme this month. First here's the evidence of a
leaf cutter bee. The leaf has been used to seal up its nest cell in our
Here's a Jersey Tiger moth (Euplagia
quadripunctaria) - not very inspiring until it flies when it shows a magnificent orange / red inner wing. To see that try
the UK moth website page
and finally a Red Underwing moth (Catocala nupta) that landed on a window, so here's the top and bottom views! And the UK moth website view
Our Moorhens have produced a second brood! We have 5 new
chicks and still some of the earlier brood we are calling "teenagers".
One of the teenagers regularly helps to feed the new chicks. A
Kingfisher has returned a couple of times, whilst the pond protection
has limited the impact of the heron, who comes back to check every now
Gannet feeding just off the beach at Slapton Ley
Corn Bunting seen singing at Willoughby Hedge, Wiltshire.
Once again our resident Moorhens have bred. Their first
nest was yet again hopelessly exposed and the eggs were taken by a
predator, probably a fox. Their second attempt was very hidden and
there are now 5 chicks running around.
February 2015 - Heron and friend
Which is the real one?
January 2015 - Squirrel wars
I have been having trouble with squirrels stealing the bird seed but more importantly they end up destroying the feeder itself.
found a website that described using a piece of stove pipe on the pole.
I didn't have such a thing, but found a length of plastic waste pipe
about 4.5" diameter and 11" long. Supported on the pole by a hose clip,
it works very well as you can see in this video clip
(.avi format, 4.7MB, 20 seconds).
Here is another great crested newt, found on the patio and a bit sleepy. It was
in danger of being squashed or eaten so I moved it to a safe nearby wall. The underside has an impressive pattern.
I was a bit surprised to find a Sparrowhawk sitting on the bridge preening and looking around. It stayed for maybe 20 minutes.
But I was even more surprised to see another bird land near it,
possibly unaware of the threat. Rushing for the camera I was only
able to get a blurred photo just as the other bird flew away.
Yes it's a Kingfisher. Foolhardy or brave? The Sparrowhawk did not give chase.
A baby newt (1.25inch variety!) found under a paving slab was tame enough to let me measure it.
The Moorhen chicks can now fly and the adults have left (well
earned break?). Migrants on their way back to the south have come
through - a family of 4 Willow Warblers and a lone Spotted
Flycatcher. Highlight of the month was the return of a
Kingfisher, not seen for over 2 years.
Our Moorhens have tried nesting twice and the second clutch has
produced four young. They grow very rapidly and at 5 weeks old
they are nearly as big as the adults. The chicks are also up for
a fight, chasing off Blackbirds, Squirrels and Jackdaws!
This year we set up a bug box in the garden and were pleased when mason
bees made use of it. We weren't so pleased when the box got
almost completely wrecked, probably by a crow or a woodpecker.
Who is that knocking at the front door? And it is only 0520 in the morning!
(.avi format, 7.6MB, 33sec)
Many dragonflies seen around the pond:- Banded
Demoiselle Damselfly (Calopteryx splendens); Azure Damselfly
(Coenagrion puella); Emperor dragonfly (Anax imperator); Broad-bodied
chaser (Libellula depressa); and (in photo below) a Four-spotted chaser
Ham Wall reserve - sights and sounds
Trip to Brownsea Island
with South Somerset RSPB.
March of the amphibians!
A toad and a common newt together on the patio one evening.
For previous wildlife news see here