Monday, 3 October 2016

Tree Following - Sightings to Date

A little ahead of my Tree Following post for October, 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!



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 ...


Friday, 2 September 2016

Kingfisher Sighting, Norfolk

I have always hoped that I would have the chance to photograph a Kingfisher. My few sightings to date have been fleeting ones, and I had never had the pleasure of seeing one of these stunning birds on a perch before.

We visited Gooderstone Water Gardens in Norfolk over the weekend; and there, just outside the Kingfisher Hide, was ... a Kingfisher.

The Latin name is Alcedo atthis. The first word links up with the more familiar 'halcyon', derived from two Greek words and meaning 'conceived at sea'. According to mythology, halcyon birds bred on nests out in the ocean. The computer colour, cyan, derives from the Greek word, kuaneos, meaning 'dark blue'.

How can turquoise feathers really be a dusky brown? I have always found the phenomenon of iridescence and semi-iridescence a fascinating one! 

The view from the hide at Gooderstone, with two perfect Kingfisher perching sticks

The water gardens at Gooderstone, Norfolk

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Dragonfly Days ~ Southern Hawker

Butterfly numbers are said to be down, but it seems to me that this has not been a brilliant summer for Dragonflies or Damselflies either. We were delighted to see our first Southern Hawker on Dunwich Heath last week. 

The close-up below shows the characteristic yellow triangle at S2.

Friday, 19 August 2016

A Walled Garden of Wildflowers at NT Ickworth

Hoverfly on an umbellifer

NT Ickworth, here in Suffolk, has a walled garden, currently boasting a superb display of Dahlias around the edge. However, it is the huge expanse in the centre that catches the eye for it has largely been given over to a mass planting (by Urban Forestry) of wildflower seeds. These were sown in April.

This post comprises a scattering of the photos I took when I was there last weekend. The wildflower petals were beginning to fade and seedheads were becoming prominent. There was still plenty of pollen about for the insects ...

The seed mix, which has apparently been on sale at Ickworth, includes Cornflower (a particular favourite of mine), Poppy, Borage (a hit with the bees), Golden Tickseed, Red Flax, Corn Marigold and other species.

My understanding is that the 2015 and 2016 seasons of wild flowers will give way to other kinds of planting once the flowers have helped to prepare the soil. But for now it is a walled paradise, and in a summer that has not seen many insects, a veritable haven for bees and hoverflies.

Bee on Golden Tickseed

I love the complementary blues and golds ...

The view from the bench

Another pollinator at work ...

... and another Hoverfly

Looking up to the 200+ year old wall and the church beyond

... and looking across to the far side of the garden


Umbellifer (which one?)

More Poppies (see the 'pepperpot' seedpod)

This reminds me (in a small scale way) of the swathes of Sunflower fields on the road to Edirne from Istanbul!

More Cornflowers ... and 'pepperpots'!

The Royal Horticultural Society offers advice on its website - here - for those who may be considering a wildflower meadow (or patch) of their own. The RSPB site also has suggestions.

My homepatch is a suburban garden so it will not be sowing a meadow, but I plan to plant a wildflower seed mix next spring in our 'wild corner' of grass and nettles, in the hope that it may add colour and help to give wildlife a home.

NT Ickworth, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds