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May 2017
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.

Pocota Personata

We were also pleased to see a Cattle Egret being very friendly with some cattle at Keyhaven near Lymington.
Cattle Egret

March 2017
31 March - Mistle Thrushes nesting in the garden - a first!

Visit to Ham Wall reserve

    Glossy Ibis with Little Egret looking on.                                                                                    Great Egret     Great Egret
Glossy Ibis and Egret

January 2017 - visit to Greylake reserve
    Water Rail
Water Rail

August 2016
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.
Moorhen eggSpotted Flycatcher

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.
Dachshund model
I'm calling it Bark Art (geddit?)

June/July 2016
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.

May 2016
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.
 wren's nestdormouse

April 2016
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).
Wood Warbler at Yarner Wood

March 2016
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 quickly!
Siskin

October 2015
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.
Male Sparrowhawk

August 2015
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 bug box.
leaf cutter bee damageleaf cutter bee nest
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.
Jersey Tiger
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.
Red Underwing top viewRed Underwing bottom view

July 2015
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 and then.

Jun 2015
Gannet feeding just off the beach at Slapton Ley
Gannet at Slapton Ley

May 2015
Corn Bunting seen singing at Willoughby Hedge, Wiltshire.
Corn Bunting -2Corn Bunting -1

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?
Heron and friend

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.  I 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).

Squirrel barrier on feeder pole

November 2014
Here is another great crested newt, found on the patio and a bit sleepy. It wasNewt underside in danger of being squashed or eaten so I moved it to a safe nearby wall.  The underside has an impressive pattern.
Great crested newt

October 2014
I was a bit surprised to find a Sparrowhawk sitting on the bridge preening and looking around. It stayed for maybe 20 minutes.
Sparrowhawk
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.
foolhardy or what
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.
Baby newt

August 2014
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.
Kingfisher

July 2014
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.

June 2014
Who is that knocking at the front door? And it is only 0520 in the morning!
Video (.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 (Libellula quadrimaculata).
4 spotted chaser

May 2014
Ham Wall reserve - sights and sounds.

April 2014
Trip to Brownsea Island with South Somerset RSPB.

February 2014
March of the amphibians!  A toad and a common newt together on the patio one evening.
Toad and newt

For previous wildlife news see here.