Archive for the 'Gardens' Category

7th May 2010, Friday

Oak pollard

12 years ago when I moved into a new house a young two-stemmed oak sapling gave me the opportunity to create a young pollard.  This was something I did partly because in English Nature I had been responsible for a magnificent wood in this area full of oak and hornbeam pollards, but also because I wanted to plant native deciduous trees for insects, and pollarding the tree every 2-3 years was one way to stop the sapling getting too big for the garden.

12 years on the tree is developing well, and three years ago I hung a bird box between the two trunks.

Pollards were created in the past Read the rest of this entry »

1st May 2010, Saturday

Garden hoverflies

Some distinctive hoverflies are on the wing now and are worth looking out for in your gardens, during the sunny spells check the flowers and shrubs for species like Rhingia campestris, Helophilus pendulus, Myathropa florea and Syritta pipiens they are spectacular to look at closely, all are pictured below.

Rhingia campestris

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26th April 2010, Monday

Warmth at last

The warmer weather yesterday made a few hours in the garden more interesting Eristalinus aeneus and Syrphus torvus were the pick from six species of hoverfly, Holly Blue, Orange-tip, Small and Large White completed the highlights.

Eristalinus aeneus

18th March 2010, Thursday

Sleepers awake

The warmer weather is making a few hours in the garden more interesting with the appearance of adult insects which have successfully hibernated through the winter. Yesterday around mid day 3 Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), Red Admiral, Small Tortoishell and the hoverfly Eristalis tenax (Drone fly) which is a superb bee mimic were all found.

Eristalis tenax (Drone Fly)

7th February 2010, Sunday

Infrequent visitors

We had two infrequent avian visitors to our Northiam garden this week.  The first was a reed bunting.  Feeding under the seed feeders, flicking its white edged tail, and hopping about nervously.  For some reason a female house sparrow took great offence to it and kept trying to drive it off.  Graphs on the BTO Garden Birdwatch website show that this time of year is the period when these birds are most likely to turn up in gardens, presumably as food is in short supply in the countryside. The second bird was an early morning arrival, a grey heron. These birds are particularly shy and tend to be seen first thing in the morning.

A second reed bunting appeared one week later in the snow.

Perhaps, like me, it was Read the rest of this entry »

3rd February 2010, Wednesday

Pampas Sparrows

Sparrows in our garden have been nest building for the past couple of weeks now.  What did they do before Pampas Grass was introduced?

3rd January 2010, Sunday

The charm of goldfinches

There can be little doubt that the introduction of the nyger seed feeder has had a dramatic impact on the numbers of goldfinch using gardens.  This is shown clearly by the graphs on the BTO Garden Birdwatch website which shows a clear trend in increased numbers of this bird over the past 15 years. At the start of 1996 they were recorded in just over 10% of the gardens participating in this monitoring scheme. Today the figure stands at over 60% of gardens

What a success story for Read the rest of this entry »

22nd October 2009, Thursday

Last chance to see 2?

The warm weather this month is keeping reptiles active.  Our garden in Northiam was graced by an adult grass snake and a juvenile slow-worm, basking under pieces of warm roof felt.  Also under one of these was a tiny palmate newt eft, chancing its luck somewhat with the snake closeby!  This animal had a faint orange-brown stripe all the way down its back and tail, whereas in the smooth newt there is a short stripe starting on the top of the head and petering out above the fore-limbs.

The recent run of wet weather should help this animal to forage and put on weight before the winter draws on. In dry weather these animals tend to be confined to any refuge that retains some moisture. Under 25mm long it’s amazing to think that in 18 months time this could be an adult returning to our pond to breed, if it manages to avoid the grass snake!

7th September 2009, Monday

Benign neglect

Garden ponds can be great wildlife habitats, but with their butyl liners and plastic plant containers can look horribly artificial.  They don’t have to be that way though as this photo shows. This believe it or not is a pond with a butyl liner and under the mound of moss is a planting basket that was established in 1986. It became covered in a layer of moss that has been allowed to grow since then to form a natural looking hummock, through which lesser pond sedge and purple loosestrife grow.

I’m so taken with this mound that on the two occasions Read the rest of this entry »

29th July 2009, Wednesday


Buddleia is well known as a pollen and nectear provider for butterflies and other insects, yesterday a good range of species were feeding on the buddleia in my garden. A Humming-bird Hawk-moth was a nice find, 4 Small Tortioseshell were also good to see as this species never seems to be abundant in recent years, other butterflies present Red Admiral, Large and Green-veined White, Comma and Holly Blue. Bumblebee species found feeding included Terrestris, Lapidarius, Pascuorum and Pratorum. Three of the above are pictured below.

Humming-bird Hawk-moth

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