Birds galore, bees and ruby-tails, slow-worms and voles – Friday 2nd July 2021
The second half of June has seen birds galore in the garden. Over two days at the end of June I counted 16 species and a few more since. There have also been young birds everywhere; our feeders have been full of young bluetits and great tits, sparrows, robin and many more.
Pride of place must go to the juvenile ‘red-cap’ great spotted woodpeckers that come right up to the feeders close to the house and can be watched through our kitchen window (image 1). If disturbed they fly across the lawn and climb up our oak tree and later come down to the feeders again. We seem to have two red-caps and I have seen mum (but not dad) recently. They are fun to watch and this youngster attempted to land on the garden bunting but soon twisted and fell off (image 2).
Our pair of spotted flycatchers also provide us with constant enjoyment as they perch on chairs, our bench, wispy branches and our bean poles (image 3) and anywhere that gives them a look-out for any unfortunate flying insects and when they fly off in flash and twist and turn to catch their prey in mid-air.
All sorts of birds perch on our metal bench that we purchased from Petersfield Forge some years ago including this young robin just getting his red breast (image 4). Nuthatches come down from the trees to the feeders and sometimes take a drink from our water bowl (image 5). Finches have been varied and our feeders can get bullfinches, goldfinches and greenfinches (image 6). Chaffinches tend to hang about under the feeders to catch any food that falls down.
Our wildlife tins continue to attract numerous slow-worms and we were pleased to find this mating pair. He is holding her around her neck in typical mating position and we hope to get many babies later in the year (image 7).
I have been watching our colony of tree bumble bees that have taken over one of our bird nesting boxes. Numerous male bees fly actively around the nest box awaiting a female to emerge and when the lucky males (and their ladies) move down onto the lawn to complete their amorous intent (image 8). Since first being recorded in the UK in Wiltshire in 2001, they have spread widely and can now be found in Ireland, Wales and north into Scotland. They are easily recognised by their tawny thorax and black abdomen with a bright white tail.
Brilliantly coloured but tiny ruby-tailed wasps have appeared our house wall (image 9) close to the bee hotels. These metallic red and green coloured wasps are only about 10mm long and parasitic on mining bees. The wasps lay their eggs in the bee burrows from where their larvae feed on the bee larvae and so form part of the intricate web of life around the mining bee colonies.
Back under our wildlife tins, we have had a family of the lovely reddish-furred beady-eyed bank voles that look rather like mini-hamsters (image 10).