Thursday, 23 May 2013

Greenfinches, an Unexpected Beetle Visitor and Ponds

I was keeping an eye out for my mice last night as the gloaming was coming down and noticed that the greenfinches are back. There were two males and a female, but by the time I'd got the camera only one male remained. It's been a while since the greenfinches were in the garden and it got me thinking that I haven't seen the goldfinches for a few days either. Of course it may be that they've been in the garden and I just haven't seen them, but when you spend as much time watching the birds as I do that seems unlikely. I wonder where they've got to? They are usually very reliable.

Anyway, here's the male greenfinch enjoying the feeders.



 
One of the mice was out and about at the same time. I didn't get a photo because the light was fading and the camera would not have picked her up. She scampered about for a while before picking up a seed and sitting back on her haunches with it held firmly between her hands to enjoy eating it. How could you fail to find that endearing? M manages it. He does not share my fascination and fondness for these small creatures and the dark mutterings about mouse control are continuing. 

I was in sombre mood last night after the dreadful news from Woolwich and feeling pretty sad when we went to bed, as, I suspect, most people were in the UK last night. M had let the dogs out for a pee so I was upstairs before him, my thoughts with the poor man who had lost his life, when I discovered we had a visitor. We don't often get beetles in the house and I've never seen one upstairs in all the years we've lived here. He is a splendid person and my first thought was that he was stag beetle, with those marvellous pincers.





But further investigation (how did we manage before the internet?!) revealed him to be a Lesser Stag Beetle. They are about an inch long, so a reasonable size, mainly nocturnal, attracted to light (so probably flew in through the open window upstairs) and live on wood such as ash, apple and beech, all of which we have a plenty round the house.
I also learnt that a beetle studier is called a coleoptorist and that there are over 4000 types of beetle in the UK. I'm rather taken with him. When we tried to pick him up and take him outside he stuck, first to the carpet and then to our hands. He'll be much better off outside: there's nothing for him to eat indoors.

As a final pause for thought I was very shocked to hear yesterday that one in ten UK wildlife species are now under serious threat and it got me thinking about what more we can do here to help.
The upshot is we are going to think about putting a pond in the garden. I think we have room and it's one type of habitat we don't have (although the lake is only a few yards away). The beauty of a pond is that it needn't be big in order to make a substantial difference and provide a habitat that supports a broad number of species. I broached the subject with M who thought it was an excellent idea, so this weekend we will be putting on our pond-thinking caps and working out how we can achieve this. It's exciting. The creatures I would most like to see in the new pond are newts. We had them when I was a girl and my sister and I used to catch them (gently and with extreme care) in nets and then pick them up and look at them. They are amazing prehistoric-looking things. Anyway, I'll keep you updated on Pond Progress.


 

10 comments:

  1. I'm glad your greenfinches are back and I like the little beetle. Good news about the pond, I look forward to following pond-progress!

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    1. Yes- it'll be great to have a new project. I'm quite excited about it.

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    1. I've always wanted a pond but we couldn't do it when the kids were tiny. Now they're all huge great hulking beasts they're in more danger of falling in drunk than anything else! (I'm only slightly joking).

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  3. We have a very small pond, which hubby dug out for me last year. Its about 1m across, circular and about 40cm deep. I already have damselflies, pond snails, and am hoping for frogs and newts when the plants grow. Birds bathe and drink from it. So even if you only have a small space I'd say it's worth it.

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    1. Thanks Suzie that was very useful to hear and exactly what I was hoping for. Did you use a rigid liner or line the hole with softer plastic?

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    2. We used a preformed rigid liner-it's a little harder to fit as the hole has to be more precise, however the wildlife doesn't mind that it's a bit crooked! We used stones to cover the edges and hopefully the plants will start to grow over the edges too. Yesterday I had dragonflies and damselflies about.
      I found a nice blog entry on the RHS about ponds http://mygarden.rhs.org.uk/blogs/miranda_hodgson/archive/2013/05/28/new-pond-excitement.aspx#104206
      and this PDF about bee friendly plans http://www.rhs.org.uk/Media/PDFs/Advice/Plants-for-bees. Hope it's helpful.

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    3. Thanks for those links, that's v kind of you. Am very encouraged to hear about the wildlife you are getting at your pond.

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  4. Very envious of your Greenfinches - we don't get them at all up this high. On the subject of beetles, I can highly recommend Margarethe Brummerman's http://arizonabeetlesbugsbirdsandmore.blogspot.co.uk/ - fantastic blog; a bit over my head sometimes but fascinating.

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    1. Ah thanks Em I will check her blog out tomorrow. One of the things I really enjoy about blogging is the exchange of info like that and also seeing how bird populations differ round the UK.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x