Thursday, 19 January 2017

Bullfinch in the Garden



This fine male Bullfinch landed in our garden just over a week ago. There were rustlings and I suspect there was a second (probably female) bird out of sight. The photo was taken through glass on a rather dark day, so apologies for the lack of clarity.

We usually have a couple of garden sightings a year, particularly when there is blossom on the trees. I see from a previous Tree Following post that I recorded a Bullfinch in my home patch in the first part of 2016. Perhaps the bird above was finding some early buds. Bullfinches have been classed 'amber' in terms of conservation status.

Don't forget (reminder to self!) to register for the forthcoming RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, which takes place over the weekend of 28th and 29th January.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Wonderful Waxwings

All photos displayed in this post were taken on 8 Jan 2016

We have been following reports on the flight-paths of Waxwings in our local area for some days in the hope that we would eventually be in the same neck of the woods at the same time as one of these groups. As you can see, we were finally rewarded.

I have only ever seen Waxwings once before, and that was also in Suffolk at exactly the same time of the afternoon (if a month later) just as the last of the gloomy winter light was fading. We had been scouring the area for trees with berries, but I expect these had already been stripped bare. The Waxwings we saw were high up (and at some distance) in a leafless, berry-less tree. There were also a few Starlings.

One of these days perhaps we will be able to view the exquisite Waxwing in decent light! My photos are little more than record shots, but they are a happy reminder of a dreary afternoon in early January. I had so hoped to catch more of the distinctive flash of red - but I guess there is always next time.

And meanwhile, if you would like to see Waxwing photos taken by others, you could do worse than the Google Image display here.



Thursday, 5 January 2017

Seals are Wild Animals

This afternoon we came across a couple of people watching over a Grey Seal pup, a 'white-coat' in its fluffy lanugo (suggesting an age of two weeks or thereabouts), on a Suffolk beach. They were keeping an eye on the pup and trying to ring for help.

I stood some distance away and ensured that dog owners restrained their pets in the vicinity.

David managed to get through to a local RSPCA representative, who said that a staff member would be sent to the beach. The couple stayed at their post, waiting for help to arrive, and we left them to their vigil once everything had been arranged.

I came back home to find that there had been an article in the Eastern Daily Press only yesterday, offering advice for those who find seal pups on their own. Please take a moment to read it.

Only two days before we had spotted a group of adult seals off the coast of Dunwich. These were some way out, and were splashing around individually and together, and belly-flopping in the water near a fishing vessel. It was a delight to take our binoculars and watch these wild animals behaving naturally.



Seals off Dunwich, 2017


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Sutton Hoo Miscellany - Dragonfly and Caterpillar among the Mounds

David saw this ?Ruddy Darter (see here) yesterday at NT Sutton Hoo: I doubt we will see many more dragons this year.

October has been exceptional, but the low light betrays the fact that the season is turning.

The light also accentuates the mounds. You can just see Tranmer House through the trees.

It has been a stunning autumn for colour.

Thanks again to David for this photo. Is it a Spilosoma/Tigermoth larva? Please leave a comment if you know!

Monday, 31 October 2016

Autumn colour and a Hornet at the RSPB Wildlife Garden in Flatford

Spindle

Spindle

An array of insect hotels
Fiery autumn shades

A prolific species of Blackfly

European Hornet

Crab apple

RSPB Wildlife Garden, Flatford

Last of the season's caterpillars...

Wonderful leaves...

... in red, green, brown, yellow and gold.

Busy bee

Last time we were here the Nasturtiums were covered in caterpillars. The flowers were still in bloom, but no caterpillars.

Acer (with keys)

Guelder rose berries

It would be a shame to visit the Flatford ...

... without watching the Mute Swans on the Stour.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Gondwanaland...


We 'visited' Gondwanaland last weekend. I always think that words along these lines could be the opening of a novel...

This particular Gondwanaland, however, is only about an hour away from our home. It forms part of the landscape that makes up Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum. I hope my photos demonstrate the reason we try to visit each autumn before the trees lose their leaves.


Claret Ash 'Raywood' (Fraxinus angustifolia)

Claret Ash

Guelder rose berries (I think)

Autumn Crocus

Holly

Edge of the lake

Autumn sunlight

Teasel

Acer

I should know this one...

Acer

A peep through the undergrowth

Mr and Mrs

Cornflower... last hint of summer

Poppy, paving the way for November

Tree Following for October to Early November 2016 (Sightings to Date)

Linked to my Tree Following reports, I am posting my updated list of wildlife sightings 'in, on, under and around' the two trees in my home patch. My trees are a relatively mature Silver Birch and a four year old Ornamental Cherry, barely more than a sapling.

Silver Birch

Ornamental Cherry (planted four years ago)

I am hoping to keep this list updated as I see new species or have cause to comment on ones that are already on the list. I began the list with the help of sites which show pictures of different species, like the one for the RSPB. A certain amount of guesswork was involved, and there are still huge holes in my knowledge, hence the question marks and 'unidentified' entries below. I have now subscribed to iSpot and iRecord, and am very grateful to those who spend time confirming IDs.


Avian sightings
  • TFb1   Great Spotted Woodpecker
  • TFb2   Great tit
  • TFb3   Long-tailed Tit
  • TFb4   Blackbird  
  • TFb5   Song Thrush   
  • TFb6   Blue tit 
  • TFb7   Robin
  • TFb8   Magpie 
  • TFb9   Wood Pigeon
  • TFb10 Dunnock  
  • TFb11 Starling 
  • TFb12 Carrion Crow 
  • TFb13 Goldfinch
  • TFb14 Jay 
  • TFb15  Green Woodpecker
  • TFb16  Wren 
  • TFb17  Bullfinch
  • TFb18  Sparrowhawk
  • TFb19  Mallard
  • TFb20  House Sparrow 
  • TFb21 Chaffinch
  • TFb22 Grey Heron 
  • TFb23 Collared Dove 
  • TFb24 Coal tit

Mammal sightings
  • TFm1 (?Wood) Mouse
  • TFm2 Bat ... [first 2015 garden sighting 7 May 2015] [Apr/May 2015]
  • TFm3 Shrew 
  • TFm4 Grey Squirrel  [Jan/Feb 2016] [Feb/Mar 2016] [Mar/Apr 2016] [Jul/Aug 2016]  
  • TFm5 Stoat
  • TFm6 Hedgehog

Insect sightings
  • TFi1 Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly [March 2014]
  • TFi2 Buff-tailed Bumblebee [March 2014] [Jan/Feb 2016] [Mar/Apr 2016]
  • TFi3 Brimstone Butterfly [April 2014]
  • TFi4 7-spot Ladybird [April 2014] [Oct 2014] [Apr/May 2015] [Jul/Aug 2015] [Sept/Oct 2015] [Mar/Apr 2016]
  • TFi5 Skipper Butterfly [July 2014]
  • TFi6 Meadow Brown Butterfly [July 2014] [Jul/Aug 2015]
  • TFi7 Large White Butterfly [July 2014] [Jul/Aug 2016]
  • TFi8 14-spot Yellow Ladybirds [July 2014]
  • TFi9 Small White Butterfly [May 2014] [Apr/May 2015] [Sept/Oct 2015 - caterpillars]
  • TFi10 Orange tip Butterfly [May 2014]
  • TFi11 Harlequin ladybird  [May 2014] [October 2014] [Sept/Oct 2015]
  • TFi12 Garden Chafer (Phyllopertha horticola) [June 2014] [June/July 2016]
  • TFi13 Ruby-tail Wasp [June 2014] [May/June 2015] [May/June 2016]
  • TFi14 Blackfly [June 2014
  • TFi15 Marmalade Hoverfly [July 2014] [Jul/Aug 2015] [Jul/Aug 2016]
  • TFi16 Shield bug [July 2014] [Apr/May 2015]
  • TFi17 Migrant Hawker dragonflies [July 2014]
  • TFi18 Unidentified Damselfly [August 2014]
  • TFi19 Comma butterfly [August 2014] [June/July 2016]
  • TFi20 Red Admiral butterfly [August 2014] [October 2014] [Jul/Aug 2015]
  • TFi21 Peacock butterfly [August 2014] [Jul/Aug 2015] [Nov/Dec 2015] 
  • TFi22 Green bottle flies [August 2014] [May/June 2015]
  • TFi23 Ants [August 2014] [Apr/May 2015]  [May/June 2015] [Jul/Aug 2015] [Sept/Oct 2015 ] [Jun/July 2016]
  • TFi24 Squashbug aka Dock Bug, Coreus marginatus [August 2014]
  • TFi25 Birch Shieldbug (late instar?) [September 2014]
  • TFi26 Lacewing [October 2014] [Sept/Oct 2015]
  • TFi27 Cereal Leaf Beetle [Apr/May 2015]
  • TFi28 Unidentified Moth [Nov/Dec 2014] [Feb/Mar 2015] [Jul/Aug 2015] [Sept/Oct 2015]
    [Jan/Feb 2016] [June/July 2016]
  • TFi29 Rosemary Beetle [[Sept/Oct 2015] [May/June 2016 - four]
  • TFi30 Hawthorn Shieldbug [May/June 2015] 
  • TFi31 Forest Shieldbug (Pentatoma rufipes) [Sept/Oct 2015] 
  • TFi32 Early Bumblebee [Mar/Apr 2016] 
  • TFi33 Species of Miridae [Mar/Apr 2016]  
  • TFi34 Cranefly [May/June 2016] 
  • TFi35 Crossocerus, wasps family Crabronidae [May/June 2016] 
  • TFi36 Wasp Beetle (Clytus arietis) [May/June 2016]
  • TFi37   Tree Bumblebee (Bombus (Pyrobombus) hypnorum) [May/June 2016] 
  • TFi38  Moth Least Black Arches (Nola confusalis) [May/June 2016] 
  • TFi39  Gatekeeper Butterfly [Jul/Aug 2016 *New*]
  • TFi40  Holly Blue Butterfly [Jul/Aug 2016 *New*]
  • TFi41  Painted Lady [2016] ... And don't forget to watch the programme about this beautiful butterfly!

Molluscs

Arachnids

Friday, 9 September 2016

Tree Following for August and Early September 2016


 Welcome to my Tree Following post for August and early September 2016. 



These tree posts form part of a wider project initiated by Lucy Corrander from the Loose and Leafy blog and continued by Pat at The Squirrelbasket

I am based in Suffolk, UK, where I have been keeping an eye on a Silver birch, B. pendula. I have added in a small Cherry sapling,
Prunus avium Sylvia, for my second tree.

You will find the other Tree Follower links by clicking through to the Mr Linky button here ... so do take the chance to have a look at the new posts!


*

It has occurred to me for a while that my Tree Following posts are becoming a little unwieldy. I haven't entirely decided to what to do about this yet, but am thinking along the lines of keeping the extensive (and ever growing) list of sightings made so far, 'in, on, under and around' my trees, in a separate post. Please watch this space. 

We have had a busy month and I am already running a little behind schedule, so I shall focus on a limited number of sightings.

First and foremost, in another year when butterfly sightings have largely been 'down', I am thrilled to report that we had a new garden record: a Painted Lady landed by the Silver Birch on 13 August. 




These are such fine insects, and you can read about their migration here

While I am on the subject of butterflies, do take a look at the recently released 2015 report for the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme report. There are a few bright patches but the general butterfly trend seems to be a downward one, making it all the more crucial that we plant flowers to provide nectar and preserve existing habitats. 

As for the Silver Birch itself, it is scattering vast quantities of seeds to the winds. When the sun is in the right direction, I find myself watching these miniature keys as they flit hither and thither. A number ended up in the rather extensive web of a large spider next to the Cherry Tree. I wished I had had my camera with me at that point so that I could have tried to identify the splendid web-maker. 

Silver Birch

This evening at 7pm I watched a fairly large dragonfly (it was too fast for me to see it properly) circling round beneath the foliage of the Silver Birch. It has been a warm day here, with cloud and bright spells, and I can only guess that the dragonfly was hoovering up mouthfuls of small midges or flies that flitted around the lower branches. We occasionally have dragonflies in the garden as we live in close proximity to a local nature reserve with a stream, but I have never seen them here at dusk before. 

The small Cherry Tree has continued to grow upwards. Something is still eating its leaves, but the general picture is one of health. It looks as though we might need to trim the Euonymus back again...

Cherry Tree from above

I can hardly believe that the next TF post will be in October, though, having said that, we are already on to our second crop of (wild) Blackberries. The first crop fell victim to the rain and turned mouldy, but the birds and butterflies are thoroughly enjoying the new batch of fruit.

This photo of the Comma was taken this evening, when...

... I also noticed this ?toadstool near the Cherry.

All aboard for the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...


And finally ...

MY PREVIOUS TREE FOLLOWING POSTS