Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Greetings 2015

Happy Christmas! 

This time last year I posted a photo of the NT Sutton Hoo Shepherd's Hut.

I have seen a couple more of these mobile shelters this year,
and thought I might share them with you.

David Morris has written a delightful book on the subject
entitled Shepherds' Huts and Living Vans.

I hope I may encounter some more in 2016! 

Shepherd's hut at the Museum of East Anglian Life, Suffolk
Shepherd's hut at NT Sutton Hoo (complete with stove and chimney)
David in the hut at Sutton Hoo: trying it out for size, Dec. 2015

Shepherd's Hut at Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum, Essex

'While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around ...

Words: Nahum Tate


Monday, 21 December 2015

Today's Hungry Visitor

'We won't go until we've got some ...'

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Of Swallows and Saharan Dust ... (in December?)

A Case of Seasonal Wires Crossed?

I read a warning this morning about potentially toxic dust from the Sahara that may cross our paths tomorrow here in parts of the UK. A number of newspapers were running the story, but we failed to find any mention of the anticipated scenario on the weather forecast.

I was just beginning to think that I must have got the wrong end of the stick when I finally tracked down (a version of) the report on the Met Office News Blog here.

It seems that, desert dust apart, we are in for some unusually mild weather for the time of year in the next few days. And to add to my seasonal confusion, guess who turned up at RSPB Minsmere today ... a Swallow!

I remain unsure about the weather for tomorrow (Thursday 17 December) in the UK; but just to be on the safe side, you might care to take a look at the following, particularly if you have a health condition that could be affected by unusual dust ...

Friday, 11 December 2015

Tree Following November to December 2015

Welcome to my Tree Following post for November and early December. 

The feisty Robin on my feeder

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. May I express my thanks to you both.

I am based in Suffolk, UK, where I am following an Acer negundo (aka a Box-leaf Maple). I am also continuing to keep an eye on my Silver birch, B. pendula.

You will find the other Tree Follower links by clicking the Mr Linky link here ... so do take the chance to have a look!

First snow of winter ...

What a change there has been in the weather since my last post. The evenings have drawn in and the mornings are dark as well. Here in these eastern extremities we have had our first hint of snow. Others in the north-west of the UK have had devastating floods, and my heart goes out to them. 

It seems important to round up my Tree Following year, so this post will largely consist of a list (no surprises here!). I have particularly enjoyed using my trees as the focus for the ecosystems in my garden. It is not possible, of course, to link all sightings directly to the trees, but many other living things have definitely been living their lives around my arboreal neighbours in some way or another, often on account of sap, shade, root systems, seeds, leaves and perches.

The most active creature on the Silver Birch this morning is the Grey Squirrel, who is stocking up on berry-impregnated bird food. 

Acer negundo, December 2015
Both the Acer negundo and the Silver Birch are devoid of leaves as you can see. The Silver Birch is full of tight catkins, a reminder that we will soon be past the shortest day here in the UK.

Silver Birch, December 2015

The feisty Robin sings on in the Silver Birch, December 2015

(Largely) Silver Birch Sighting Update
The few Acer negundo entries have been marked as such.    

Avian sightings (on, in and around the Silver Birch, seen at any time since I began the Tree Following project over a year ago) are shown in pink.

I have marked the 'wild things' seen during this last month in yellow.

To date, the only birds seen on the Acer negundo are TFb13 Goldfinch and  TFb19  Chaffinch

  • TFb1   Great Spotted Woodpecker (highlight of the last month: a male and female together)
  • TFb2   Great tit (several, often on feeder) 
  • TFb3   Long-tailed Tit (large family, including juveniles)
  • TFb4   Blackbird
  • TFb5   Song Thrush   
  • TFb6   Blue tit (several frequently on feeder)
  • TFb7   Robin (the feisty Robin has put in frequent appearances)
  • TFb8   Magpie
  • TFb9   Wood Pigeon (up to ten perching around the feeder area)
  • TFb10 Dunnock (two occasionally below the feeder)  
  • TFb11 Starling (one or two)
  • TFb12 Carrion Crow 
  • TFb13 Goldfinch 
  • TFb14 Jay
  • TFb15  Green Woodpecker
  • TFb16  Wren 
  • TFb17  Bullfinch
  • TFb18  Sparrowhawk
  • TFb19  Mallard
  • TFb20  House Sparrow
  • TFb21  Chaffinch
No new bird species this month.

Mammal sightings include ...

  • TFm1 (?Wood) Mouse
  • TFm2 Bat ... first 2015 garden sighting 7 May 2015 [Apr/May 2015]
  • TFm3 Shrew
  • TFm4 Grey Squirrel (this morning, enjoying the fat-and-berry food on the Silver Birch)
  • TFm5 Stoat
 No new mammals this month.

Insect sightings include ...

  • TFi1 Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly [March 2014]
  • TFi2 Buff-tailed Bumblebee [March 2014] 
  • TFi3 Brimstone Butterfly [April 2014]
  • TFi4 7-spot Ladybird [April 2014] [October 2014] [Apr/May 2015] [Jul/Aug 2015] [Sept/Oct 2015]
  • TFi5 Skipper Butterfly [July 2014]
  • TFi6 Meadow Brown Butterfly [July 2014] [Jul/Aug 2015]
  • TFi7 Large White Butterfly [July 2014]
  • 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 - on three on Acer negundo!]
  • TFi12 Garden Chafer (Phyllopertha horticola) [June 2014] 
  • TFi13 Ruby-tail Wasp [June 2014] [May/June 2015]
  • TFi14 Blackfly [June 2014
  • TFi15 Marmalade Hoverfly [July 2014] [Jul/Aug 2015]
  • TFi16 Shield bug [July 2014] [Apr/May 2015]
  • TFi17 Migrant Hawker dragonflies [July 2014]
  • TFi18 Unidentified Damselfly [August 2014]
  • TFi19 Comma butterfly [August 2014]
  • TFi20 Red Admiral butterfly [August 2014] [October 2014] [Jul/Aug 2015]
  • TFi21 Peacock butterfly [August 2014] [Jul/Aug 2015] [Nov/Dec 2015] - flew past window
  • 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 Acer negundo]
  • 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 Moths [Nov/Dec 2014] [Feb/Mar 2015] [Jul/Aug 2015] [Sept/Oct 2015]
  • TFi29 Rosemary Beetle [Sept/Oct 2015]
  • TFi30 Hawthorn Shieldbug [May/June 2015] 
  • TFi31 Forest Shieldbug (Pentatoma rufipes) [Sept/Oct 2015] 


Great Spotted Woodpecker

And finally ...