Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Gord..love a duck....

Tuesday 23 June 2009 - evening
and I think I do....because while munching on those wonderful strawberries I saw a movement in the field at the back of the garden. It was a Mallard with a bunch of chicks waddling their way to the field pond. Must get this for the blog I thought, so grabbed the camera and went in pursuit ( sounds impressive but just to the edge of the garden). Watching from there I saw nothing, until suddenly across the middle of the field about thirty foot in the air, and going like a bat out of hell a Peregrine zapped past. I watched incredulously (mentally adding it to my garden list) as it disappeared and then heard the piercing call of a Kingfisher. And, it was in the tree by the side of me ! slowly turning round I could see a blue blob at the back of the Willow but just couldn't get a good view. A few seconds later, another piercing call and it was gone. My heart was thumping, but luckily there were just a few strawberries left.

And all because the lady was a duck......

One out....all out

Tuesday 23 June 2009
It was the morning for fledging as all five of the garage nesting Swallow chicks left the nest, first onto the rafters and then into the air. They are spending quite a bit of time still in the garage then occasionally exploding out and flying round as though they know what they are doing. Amazing to think by September time they will be on their way to Africa.
and while not really wildlife as they are cultivated, and I guess dead when I picked them, it is a site for ramblings......and therefore my first bowl of garden strawberries, picked this evening. Actually are they dead as the seeds are still there ? and if a seed is a living thing (is it?)then perhaps they are still alive. Hmmmm  more ramblings...and more cream and more sugar..

Mr Larva larva....

Sunday 23 June 2009
Yes... during another pond dipping session Tom found this fantastic Great Diving Beetle larvae. This is one of the most ferocious animals of our pond, they eat Tadpoles (much to Tom's disgust) and will take small fish such as Sticklebacks. (see photo of adult in older posts of this blog). Till then Tom was happily holding it in the palm of his hand while transferring it to the tank. I still remember being bitten by one of these when I was a young pond dipper. With four children dipping away many more Tadpoles were found, in addition to numerous Dragonfly and Damselfly larvae, a freshwater Leech and loads of Water Snails.
and Siskins had been calling from Rob and Emma's garden (next door) during sunday, so it was nice to see them later in my garden

Sunday, 21 June 2009

A great little hummer....

Sunday 21 June 2009
Amidst a hectic morning of pond dipping with Tom I heard a buzzing noise past my ear and a Humming Bird Hawk Moth zipped by. I tracked it down to the Valerium flowers. Great little moths these and this one probably a migrant from southern Europe. The wings beat at some ridiculous frequency so I found this really difficult to photograph, pushing the ISO to 2500 in order to stop it just being a blur....

Folklore has them down as messengers of good tidings in Italy and Malta. A small swarm was reported flying over the water in the English Channel, headed to England from France on D-Day 1944 - but let's not get excited it was just a coincidence.

A nice little spot......

Saturday 13 June 2009
......in fact, two nice Little Spots in the form of two Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. I had heard them calling early in the morning and couldn't believe my ears as only once before has one ever graced the garden. At first it sounded like a distant Greater Spot calling but then I realised this bird was close, that meant it wasn't a Greater but it's less strident cousin the Lesser. But where was it ? Well it was in fact in the Willow Tree and then flew over the garden towards the road. For the rest of the weekend I could hear the birds (two of them) drumming, which was a very odd time of the year for them to be doing that, but more importantly singing and with numerous very quick flights over and around the garden - brilliant! 

The Swallows in the garage were doing well with regular feeding from the adults and I would estimate they have about two weeks to go before fledging, maybe earlier. 
and finally this chap decided to lord it around the lawn, a fine and quite self assured Red legged Partridge.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

A buzz of excitement

11 June 2009
We had seen a few Hornets around in June but were unaware that house building was occuring in the garden shed (currently used to house Sam's stuff). In fact we'd found a dead Hornet in the shed a couple of weeks previously. So it was a bit of a surprise to find the beginnings of a Hornets nest by the door. We had been using the shed daily but never seen it ! On closer inspection we saw several adult winged Hornets creeping around inside and decided that if they could live with us then we could live with them, after all they are the "gentle giants" of the wasp world - aren't they ?

so a bit of reading on the internet and we discovered that they were indeed pretty placid, except when it comes to their nests and any disturbance thereof, in fact disturbance results in them putting out a pheremone which alerts all the workers to attack whatever has been scented, and that could be us !... In order to find out how advanced they were, and if any little ones were on the way, we had a closer look inside and saw that quite a few grubs were already developing and the inner three cells had a silk like top to them.

The winged adults were becoming more frequent so with heavy heart we decided to see if we could persuade them to leave as we were worried that as the colony increased, Sam's visits to the shed could cause them them to become agitated. In addition the garage next to the shed held our new scalextic track so we were were all often in the close vicinity.

We left the door open for several days hoping a Honey Buzzard may find them, but none came. A very nice man called Kelvin from Castle Acre Pest Control however did, and persuaded them to move. He explained to us that the covered cells contained the metamorphosing larvae and in a couple of weeks these would become the workers, which would continue to increase the nest size with the queen, still winged, continuing to lay until the nest reached a large size and possibly would contain several hundreds of Hornets.

A bit less grubby the juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers are still coming to the garden and wolfing down the peanuts...

and very excitingly a new bird species for the field pond with the arrival of a pair of Tufted Ducks

they didn't stay long but you never know, now they know it's there....... a repeat pics but just to say still lots of Painted Lady butterflies coming to the garden

and the Common Terns are still fishing in the field pond

Sam saw and photographed this Magpie Moth outside the back door , aptly named, (the moth that is).

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A great spot......

31 May 2009
A Great Spotted Woodpecker at the nuts, it's a juvenile bird told by the red centre to it's crown and duller white bits compared to the adult. Two young birds are coming in, but only one at a time, with the adults staying nearby but not actually in the garden and calling all the time.

One of the largest Painted Lady migrations in decades has been going on in the last week, with most of the butterflies being on the coast, but we've had about twenty a day going through the garden. Most of these are just fast flying individuals which don't stop. Here one has rested of some Valerium. Incredible to think these little things have come all the way from Morocco. Some eighteen thousand were counted streaming past Scolt Head in just one day.