Saturday, 30 April 2016


Check out for events worldwide.

Set your alarms for before daybreak, get up and out and enjoy it!

Me ? I'll be recording what's in the moth trap early so I'll listen to what's going on in the neighbourhood. 

See you tomorrow.

exploring the garden

It's still very windy here but at least the sun was out today with some clouds and dry. Also still generally quiet in terms of visitors to the garden. The buds and flowers of bushes are slow to open due to the cold we've had. However the pair of Blackbirds have been feeding all day and a few Starlings. We can now hear baby House Sparrows in a nest in our gutters of the house. Sadly one was lost yesterday - possibly taken by a Jackdaw or Carrion Crow and dropped against our window - found dead on the decking. It had feathers, so they're obviously well developed already.
When chasing a cat away from the garden this morning I accidentally scared off 2 Linnets. I just didn't see them. They seem to have been hanging around the area of gardens for a few days - slightly more unusual as a garden bird in a built up area.
So I had a little ramble and explore in the garden this afternoon. I saw a tiny hoverfly on a dandelion flower, full of pollen! There were some spiders on the kids' playhouse. A large bumblebee flew through too quick to see any colours for ID purposes. And the great game of 'lifting up a stone or tile to see what's underneath' was successful - several woodlice, some slugs and ants!

A tiny hoverfly which will need identifying

A close up of one of the Woodlice under the stone tile. 

The many Woodlice that were living under a stone tile near the shed. 

This was an obviously different spider by its shape. It seemed to have an egg sack which almost looks like a cocoon. I am reliably informed, and looked online myself since, that it's a Walnut Orb Weaver Spider. New for us!

Also on the kids' playhouse was this strikingly marked Garden (cross) Spider. Although smaller it has an obvious white stripe across it. 

One of hardly any flowers open in the garden is the sunny looking Calendula flower.

I thought you'd like to see the Hedgehog gap we had put in our new fence couple of year ago. We'd often get a hedgehog in the garden but since new fences have replaced old ones in the neighbourhood we haven't seen one for a long time. But we requested this gap was made for when they do visit the garden. There is a call in the UK here to protect our Hedgehogs due to declining numbers and that people could do simple things like this in their garden fence so as not to block out their foraging and feeding routes.

Finally our Pear tree has buds on it - with a couple of ants though. We look forward to our Pear tree flourishing every year, and every year is different - affected by the weather. 

Friday, 29 April 2016


Just a short post today, feeling under the weather myself.
There was a Rook on the ground today, most obliging for a photo too. This doesn't happen often.
They're usually seen flying over fields, feeding in farm fields and sitting in the trees.
An area with Rooks nesting in trees is called a Rookery. Rooks are often heard 'crowing' from their Rookeries.
We have seen many Rookeries on our travels in recent weeks - even in trees in the middle of a small roundabout !
Easily distinguished from Jackdaw and Carrion Crow by their thick grey-ish bill.


Thursday, 28 April 2016

bird songs

I have mentioned in the blog a few different bird songs that I have heard while out and about this Spring. They are truly delightful. I would love to share some with you.
I have just found a brilliant website where you can choose to listen to them, or that might help you identify a bird from it's song you heard and couldn't see.    then press 'categories' in the green box under the initial birds pictured, scroll through the species groups, then choose the individual bird. Press 'hear it's voice' at the top of the individual species page.

The most common ones you'll hear in the UK during spring are ;

Willow Warbler
Barn Swallow/Swallow

Then more common garden birds ;

Song Thrush
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Collared Dove 
House Sparrow

If you visit different habitat sites you will  hear different birds such as ;

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Mistle Thrush
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Carrion Crow
Garden Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler
Meadow Pipit

These would be woodland, heathland, water birds and in coastal areas.

So have a little listening exploration and learn a little bit more for yourself. They're lovely to listen to especially with no other noise around.
Good luck and enjoy!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


Today I saw 2 fresh looking Speckled Wood butterflies - first ones of the year that I've seen. They were fluttering around some grasses and brambles, and one landed on an earthy path. I managed to get these photos with the mobile phone.


Although we have had some clear sunny days, we are suffering with cold northerly winds right now. Spring has not truly and full sprung yet. There's always a little bit of fear and worry for the birds who are already nesting and feeding young chicks whether there is enough of a natural food source available for them in this weird weather. We are currently supplementing our House Sparrows, Starlings and Blackbirds with mealworms - they are clearing the feeding tables as soon as we put the mealworms out for them.
Well, I hope the weather improves soon.
Enjoy these butterflies above - just realised I've got the shadow of it on the path too !

Monday, 25 April 2016

Spring day on the Gower Peninsula

Yesterday, 24th April, we went to our caravan at the coast on the Gower peninsula. We set off on a long circular walk as soon as got there. The weather was sunny and clear but there was a cold northerly wind.
The first part of this circuit takes us through a sheep field, alongside other farm fields used for grazing, and a large marshy area with stream which runs out onto the beach eventually. Then we walked across a long beach, up onto  a small island then back up onto the mainland footpath back to the caravan.
Out of the windy exposed places is it was warm and we did see some spring bird migrants.

On arrival at the caravan site there were a few Linnets pecking around on the grass. 
A female Linnet, stayed on the ground long enough for me. Always a sweet looking bird with a delightful song and call. Males have more red/pink on the breast and front of  head. When taking the photo I realised the male Blackbird was in the frame too !

Here is a Whitethroat. Not the best of photos but soon they will be everywhere near our caravan so I can try to get a better shot at it. Summer visitor to the UK, brown back, grey head, dark tail. Another sweet song and often displaying up from bushes briefly before landing again.

This is another type of Whitethroat called Lesser Whitethroat. Identified primarily by its different song to that of a Whitethroat, often skulking in the middle of bushes and singing. Darker grey head and grey back. We waited patiently quite a while for this one to pop out of the bush and then I fired off a load of photos and these were the best (above and below).

A stunning summer visitor to UK - the amazing Wheatear. I love them. This is a male. He didn't turn at all hence a front on photo. But generally their back is grey, with black wings, and a white rump is visible when in flight. I mentioned Wheatear in an older post but didn't have a photo of it. Now I have one! I love this photo of this bird. Gorgeous!

On the little island that walked onto we found a quiet sheltered spot overlooking some amazing rock formations and there was an outlet of rocks and the sea. There were absolutely loads of  Herring Gulls on the sea and rocks. As we scanned through our binoculars my husband found 2 Whimbrels (both above photos).  They are a wading bird, and more often seen at the coasts during the winter in UK. Marked with brown and white plumage, streaky breast, and white eye stripe. A similar bird is the Curlew which has a longer curved bill. 

There were many clumps of these flowers with a strong scent coming off them. I will endeavour to find out what species they are.


Now for my favourite seabird - the Fulmar. A member of the tubenosed seabird families. Obviously different in flight to the various Gull species, the Fulmar keeps their wings more straight when in flight and have a gentle 'elastci' effect of wing beats. Colouration is grey above and white underneath. The 'tubenose' is the make up of the bill, similar to that of Albatross, Shearwaters and Petrels. They were having a lovely time soaring around the rock faces and cliffs yesterday, going over me and past me. I also had a great time taking their photos. Here are the best ones (x3 above).

There were a gathering of Cormorants on the rock faces too. A large black sea bird with large yellow bill. Also seen on  lakes/reservoirs.

This Kestrel seemed like it was completely still in the air right above us on our return walk. Fabulous! I find myself saying that almost every bird is my favourite!  I love them all.

A wandering Red Kite was seen after the Kestrel. Not the best photo -  I have got better ones from somewhere else which I will share later in the year as a 'look back in time / on this day' theme. At least here it portrays the classic forked tail and the sheer size of the bird.

We found a couple of Buff-tailed Bumblebees bombing around. This one was actually cleaning itself. 

This final creature was found dead along the tide line of the beach, earlier in the walk. My daughter spotted it thinking it was a dead crab but then we noticed it was different to your 'average' crab. We have absolutely no idea what it is. Another one to investigate and I'll get back to you. She subsequently found another 20 or so along the tide line. Strange.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this blog. I look forward to another post sometime this week.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, 22 April 2016

garden visitors

This afternoon we were delighted to see these 2 visitors to the garden....Jays!


Most likely to be a pair, male and female, one sat in the apple tree and the other was pulling at the buds of our Rowan tree. 
It was more than a rush to grab the camera 2 storeys up, then back down again to take these photos of them!

Can you see me ?!

Elsewhere in the garden, our Bluebells are only just opening. 

Looking lovely though.

This is one of our Acer trees just opening its leaves.

There were several ants crawling up and down the Acer tree and I have never attempted a photo with the macro lens until now. I'm surprised it came out quite well. You can just about see the mouth.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

moth trap overnight !

Finally I managed to get the moth trap out last night. Up early this morning to check what was caught. Not many moths; only 5 species, 8 individuals. But of those were 2 absolutely stunning moths that I haven't trapped for some time. The Mullein moth.

Here they were as found in the moth trap when I opened it.

I put them both into a specimen box with lid.

Close up of the head.

I then released them on to our favourite 'old' Buddleia bush in the garden (above and below).

We don't often see the Mullein moth. It is generally common in the UK although less common or scarcer, also known as local, in Wales. But every year we get the caterpillars on our Buddleia bushes in the garden. These are also a delight to see. I recommend you have a close look at Buddleia bushes in July/August. Look for evidence of eaten leaves and quite often they're underneath a leaf. Easily identifiable ; mainly white body with lots of yellow and black spots/small patches. Obviously you'll see small and then larger ones as they grow.

Here is  link to a YouTube video of the caterpillars as I cannot find my own photo of one.

I was thrilled to see these 2 moths this morning. 
According to our records the last time we trapped one was 2010, and before that 2005 and 2004.
Other moths from this morning were Brindled Beauty, Early Grey, Common Quaker and Hebrew Character.

I had to share the beautiful Brindled Beauty.

Mid morning I was gadrening with my mum. We have made some exciting plans to transform a patch of the garden.

 We are digging it over every day in preparation for a wildflower patch. I have found a brilliant product on the internet here in the UK ....
It's like pieces of turf with the wildflowers already started off growing on it. It's accepted in most soils/ground and would need a sunny position however there are different mixes such as one for shady areas, a cottage garden look and one for bees and birds which we will be choosing. Order online, or by phone, and when it arrives you just unroll it on the area you want it. Sounds easy and I can't wait! I will be posting photos it's process on here.

There is a huge campaign for help our pollinating species of insects due to declining numbers. I hope some of you will take from my example and have a go yourselves. You could have a mini wildflower meadow in your garden which will give you the chance to discover butterflies and bees, and whatever else might turn up! 
If everyone does a little bit, it all helps and hopefully numbers will start to increase in local populations. Even if it's just a pot of flowers that have been labelled and sold as a product that attract bees and insects.

I have found some information on a larger scale online if you wish to find out more called 'The National Pollinator Strategy: for bees and other pollinators in England'

Here is a link to information about the sorts of plants and flowers for insects

Bumblebee specific info here

More specific information here about creating a pollinator garden

For more information about how to help wildlife in your garden in general look here (UK)

Thank you for reading.


Apologies - I didn't put the moth trap out night before last as it was so clear, full moon and very cold. 
However in work yesterday I found these flowers growing on the field.

Not the best of photos but these are Cuckoo flower I believe (above and below)

Then I came across these tiny purple flowers, below, that are very low growing. I will find a book with them in or use the internet to find out what species they are.


More blogging to do later !

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

out and about this morning, garden this evening

My husband and I trundled around in the car this morning sussing out a new transect area for him to monitor and record species in for the BTO.
Armed with my big lens on the camera, we stopped every so often to record the habitat and generally see what wildlife there was.
First we found a Little Egret on the flooded field next to the restaurant we went to recently.

Little Egret - numbers have increased in recent years.

They are related to the Herons and silently hunt for their food in water.

A Pied Wagtail appeared in front of me on the grass and I managed to get a much better photo of it for you see all it's glory.

A Grey Heron flew over and landed in a nearby river.

Back in the car we went through some lanes checking out the fields and woodlands for the transect area. We stopped at a corner and while my husband was talking to me this sweet little Wren popped up on a branch, out in the open in full song. I wasn't going to miss this opportunity!

Wren - a tiny, shy bird, with a lovely, loud song, but not the smallest bird in the UK.

Nearby I briefly saw a Blackcap but it didn't show for any photos. 

In the garden at home this evening, in glorious sunshine, there were busy insects ;

These 3 photos are of a Dark-edged Bee-fly. They hover in mid air and are often identifiable by their long proboscis, obvious when hovering in one place and look like a bee. If disturbed they come back to the same place or area. 

There was a Tapered Dronefly hanging around our ivy that grows up a fence.

This micro moth which I will get beck to you on its name.
(above and below).

Fingers crossed for the moth trap out tonight. Watch this space.
See you tomorrow.