Saturday, 30 May 2015

Of Badgers, Blackbirds, Longhorn Moths & Listening To Gardens

I got attacked by a blackbird this week. It's the first time that has ever happened. The Blackbird Children I showed you in the last post all fledged Thursday morning apart from one who got himself stuck inside a roll of wire beside the nest. I managed to get him out and return him to the side of the nest, but not without him yelling at the top of his voice that he was being Foully Murdered and his Pa duly arriving with clawed feet and sharp beak to see off his attacker. I still have the bruises. That's baby bird rescue #3. Will it be the last?


The Green Finches are back, which is a Welcome Sight. I've actually only seen the male so am hoping his wife is egging somewhere nearby.



I went Badger Watching on Wednesday night. 





Dave, Cat and I sat on a fallen tree in a wood below the sett an hour before dusk, while Ryan took up position on the escarpment above it. The night gathered slowly around us and the day-time sounds receded as the night-time ones took over. 

Two Tawnies, one male (who, who-who-who-whoooo) and a female (keewick, keewick) were calling in the branches above our heads. Dave joked that they were looking for their lost child :o)

We didn't see any badgers, despite three hours of sitting in more or less silence listening to the sounds of the wood, but the experience held its own magic nevertheless. We're trying again at a different location in a fortnight, when we'll also keep an eye out for glow worms as June is Glow Worm Time here.



We did see a herd of Inquisitive Fallow......


And more magical still, TWO hares appeared out on the Chalk. Blurry shots as they were quite some distance away. It seems to be my Year For Hares (I am not complaining)....




I have been working with the garden a lot over the past few days, sorting out and cutting back, re-potting and planting out. I spend a lot of time listening to the land when I garden. Over the last few years we have been working to change what was a neglected, dark, unloved, damp, tangled place into an open, clean, fresh, much-loved, much-enjoyed, healthy space where wildlife is welcome, encouraged and wants to set up home. 

Yesterday I brought 5 new plants home to add to the Garden Family: salvia, nepeta, 2 aqualegia and a lithodora, as well as some seeds. All of these are good for the bees and other pollinators. I knew exactly where I was going to put them, but when I went to plant them I suddenly knew the positions I had in mind were All Wrong. These plants needed to go in the back border, a new area created a couple of years ago which is still very much evolving and has rather turned itself away from a place to plant annuals (which is where I started off with it) into a space for perennials (which is clearly what the garden wants it to be).  

One by one, the few shrubs we put in there have found their way to a different area of the garden, one newly created at the end of last summer after a comment Ma made. It was overgrown, dark and gloomy and it pulled the rest of the garden into it. Ma said: why don't you cut it all down? It was like someone switching on a light. So we cleared almost everything away including getting a stump grinder to remove the bamboo. The only plant we saved was a camellia who had stopped flowering altogether she was so sad and smothered by other things. This Spring she was festooned with blooms, bless her. Now that whole side of the garden feels opened up, lifted and lit and it's balanced everything else. It feels like it's made of light and is breathing properly. That corner is where all the Spring Colour happens and the shrubs from the new border are slowly but steadily making their way to it. Gardens must get very frustrated with people's slowness to work things out :o)









I always buy plants/ sow seeds with the wildlife in mind, so it was Very Gratifying Indeed yesterday to see Common Carder Bees finding the Salvia while I was still planting it out :o) They are also enjoying the Snap Dragons I grew from seed a couple of years back. I love the way they get right inside the bloom itself and emerge absolutely covered in pollen....









I love the way he's using his legs to scrape excess pollen off his wings in the shot above :o)

I noticed this tree with the most beautiful lilac blossom when I was driving the other day.
 


I was very struck by it and have been trying (without success) to find out what it was. Then unexpectedly I came upon it again yesterday growing on an estate I'm doing some pollinator work for. Because they grow all sorts there many of the trees have labels, so I was finally able to work out what it was. A Judas Tree (Cercis siliquastrum). Legend says it was the tree that Judas hanged himself from, but it is also possible that its name is a corruption of Judean as the tree was once common in the Judean Hills. Its other name is Love Tree, which I much prefer.


Listening to and working closely with the garden means it sometimes gives you rewards of glimpses of very small things you would otherwise not notice. While gently tying back some of the more rampant ox-eye daisies so M could dig out an ornamental cherry who had declared his intention of being replanted over in Spring Corner, this tiny Longhorn Moth appeared out of the flowers. It's called Nematopogon swammerdamella  and its antennae are 2.5 times the length of the forewing, which is itself only 8-11mm. Aren't they amazing? These little moths are common all around the UK.




I'll leave you with a shot of some material I'm making into summer trousers because I can't find linen ones anywhere...(cue L: you're not going to wear those outside the house or anywhere near me if you do, are you?')...

 
And a Funny Conversation we overheard this morning between Ted and Poppy, who's bedroom is directly below ours, We were uncharacteristically late getting up so Poppy was desperate for a wee. She told Ted she was going to go on the kitchen floor because no-one would believe it was her and he would get the blame. She is Very Naughty as you know, so it was no surprise to hear her also tell him she would make certain of this by weeing his name on the floor. Only she can't spell very well so she asked Teddy how to spell his name, to which he replied: 'It's P-O-P-P-Y'.... :o)


Wishing you all a Lovely Weekend,

CT :o)

26 comments:

  1. I guess you had better wear protective gear when rescuing Blackbird Babies, eh. You are a gem indeed to continue. Teddy is so clever. ha,ha My Mourning Dove babies have arrived into the world. Their protective shell fell out of the tree (2), which I picked up and got rid of, for I am sure my Jack would have eaten them. I am assuming there are two, as two shells dropped. Maybe the Mother pushed them out of the nest? I am excited to see the babies as they begin to grow. Momma and Daddy have been very busy flying back and forth feeding. You must start at the crack of dawn everyday to write such interesting posts. I so enjoy reading them. Thank you for all the hard work you do to create such interesting reading. Have a wonderful day.

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    1. So exciting about your Dove Children- hope they grow up big and strong and keep away from Jack! x

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  2. I remember when you were the bee rescue lady, it seems that the birds have decided that it is their turn now! Hope you enjoy the gardening and moving all your plants to their rightful places! xx

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    1. I was only thinking yesterday how there have been no bee rescues this spring at all. xx

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  3. Your Rose is much further on than mine though I do have plenty of buds but it's taken a battering in the cold stormy rainy days of late. Naughty Ted!!

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    1. I've never seen so many buds on it as it has this spring. Glorious x

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  4. Hey CT,
    I was pegging out the washing this morning, and one of the fledgling balckbirds flew in a very haphazard manner from the fence to the line, where he sat and stared at me the whole time I was hanging up the washing. His Dad was pipping to him on the fence, but he obviously wasn't sure how to get back there. He did eventually, joining his siblings. It was great! My garden seems to be very behind you. But undeterred I also bought another Salvia, and a nemesia.
    Leanne xx

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    1. What a lovely experience with your Blackbird's Child. They are dear little things aren't they? I love seeing them demanding to be fed by their parents when they are the same size :o)
      Our garden is quite sheltered and gets a lot of sun- praps that explains the time lag? I love nemesia too and the salvia here has been buzzing with bees and bee mimics all day xx

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  5. Glow worms are one of my favourites, a good indicator species and in sharp decline because of all the night pollution (roof lights, glass atriums, too many windows in barn conversions, the fashion for orangeries etc are all really bad for glow worms who cannot function unless it is dark). I've just bought thalictrum or meadow rue from a garden we visited today as I know it's good for pollinators although the best plant for being covered in bees in my garden at the moment is UGeranium maccrorhizum. Its scented leaves also seem to deter slugs. Lots of baby blackbird activity here, and none falling in the pond yet, although I did find my second dead baby blue tit in the garden the other day. Next Saturday I'm going to a talk on bats and trees in my capacity as a tree warden. I always learn so much from these events, last time I got involved in surveying all the orchards in my village which was fascinating. The talk is being given by Nik Knight from the Hampshire Bat Group who I thought you may know? Another great post CT, keep them coming please.

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    1. Interesting about the baby blue tits- I wonder were they window casualties? That species seems particularly vulnerable to flying into windows and dying as a result.

      Re the glow worms, I'm wondering whether you'd be interested in taking part in some surveys over the summer? There is a website where you can send results. I know Robin is low on surveyors and although glow worm numbers are thought to be in decline, they are also under-recorded so it's hard to track population trends definitively. Any records are useful to help maintain an accurate record of the population and June and July are the best times as the females will be glowing.
      Have a look at : http://www.glowworms.org.uk/ for more info.

      Re the bats I don't know Nik but it sounds like it will be a very interesting talk.

      Thanks for the kind comment :o)

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  6. Well done on three baby bird rescues! We've been watching our crows' nest today, and the eldest has been filming their baby, who's quite big already. Your garden is looking lovely. I bought a little salvia the other day for the bees. I'd like something fluffy for the carder bees as well. CJ xx

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    1. I bet he loved watching the baby, and getting it on camera is always exciting too :o)

      My bees thoroughly recommend snap dragons- they say that being inside the flower when its full of nectar is heavenly, although the pollen does take some brushing off afterwards :o) xx

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  7. Rescues are coming thick and fast, my dad once rescued a gull, now they can fight back !
    Shame you did not get to see any Badgers, I have never seen one and I am not aware of any round here, only get to know the places they might be while out driving and sadly seeing ones that have been hit by are car. We have quite good numbers of Greenfinch at the park staying mainly to the "playing park" rather than the wilder park situated right next to it ! very rare to get one in the garden.
    We too have been on with the garden this week end, some photos soon, might just have to go buy some more plants to day, did the Garden Biobltz at the same time numbers of insects were very low compared to last year.
    Amanda xx

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    1. Its rare to get Greenfinches in the garden here too so it was lovely to see him. I hear them often, as with the Black caps but rarely see them. I got some good species for the bioblitz list but it was only possible to do it in the afternoon when the weather improved xx

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  8. Love the new plants for the garden - always interesting to see what other people buy :) A shame about not seeing any badgers - hope you have better luck when you try again. Its a magical experience although I don't think I have ever got so many insect bites in one go as I did that night!!

    Trying to bioblitz today but weather is awful rain this morning now drizzle and very cold. Think it might brighten up later but won't get anywhere near the species I spotted last year.

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    1. I used to see badgers all the time when I was a girl, ambling down the track to the farm or else out in the woods when I was riding. It would be super to see them again.

      Poor weather here for the bioblitz- although would you believe a hummingbird hawk of all things turned up completely unexpectedly while I was out with pen and paper? It made my day :o)

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  9. I have fallen head over heels in love with Teddy & Poppy! Whether they're having a Funny Conversation, or sleeping side-by-side in their bed, they bring me so much joy! Please give them my fondest regards.

    I came across this website of knitted moths, and immediately thought of you. Here's the link in case you haven't seen it. http://www.maxsworld.co.uk/product-category/knitted-moths/

    Blessings to you and yours!

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    1. Hi Connie, thanks for the lovely comment- T and P grinned when I told them and send you a snuggle and a lick by way of thanks (Pop had a bath yesterday so it's probably safe to accept the snuggle at least). Thanks too for the marvellous website link. The moths are great as is the jewellery :o) All the best, CT x

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  10. Lovely photos, and snap with the carder bee photos, disappearing into flowers! Nothing like having a good rearrangement of the garden, I've got several beds which need a total overhaul and rethinking, but that'll have to wait!

    My mum has a Judas Tree and I see some around here - they are amazing in bloom. They are related to my Forest Pansy which is Cercis canadensis, but my young tree has not yet been smothered in flowers like it ought to be. I hope that will happen in time. Yet to see a longhorn moth! My predictive text keeps changing longhorn to linguine, you've gotta laugh! xx

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    1. I love the way they go right inside the bloom :o) Linguine moths- the mind boggles! xx

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  11. Just discovered your blog - great stories and photos.

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    1. Hi Ian, many thanks- glad you enjoyed :o)

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  12. We expect violent behaviour from herring gulls - rescuing their babies is a dangerous business round here - but blackbirds? Shows how powerful the parenting instinct is.

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    1. It's never happened before but I have to say I was mightily impressed :o)

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  13. I cannot remember the last time I had the privilege to see Hares, you're a lucky bugger CT.
    Gardens are always evolving and now that I'm turning the tiny one in my custodianship to be more wildlife friendly I am seeing the changes almost daily. Oh and love the shots of the Bee in the dragon's mouth. ;-)

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    1. They're fairly rare in the West now from what I've read. I haven't seen Hares for years so have loved the three encounters I've been lucky enough to have so far this Spring.
      I'll bet your garden changes beyond recognition and by this time next year you'll be getting all sorts visiting- just goes to show what can be achieved x

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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