Saturday, 13 May 2017

All The Small Things

Alium

Common Blue Damselfly

Female Chaffinch

Common Blue Damselfly

Female Crab spider

Fledgling Great Tit

Female Green Veined White

Great Tit nest box

Hover fly on nepeta

Large Red Damselfly pair ovipositing (egg laying)

Pond skater with common malachite beetle prey

Orange Tip egg (inside circle)

Female orange tip, just before egg laying

female orange tip nectarine on honesty

Peacock on lilac

Large red damsel

Tree creeper's nest inside crack in oak trunk


This afternoon, I heard the female cuckoo calling her I've laid my egg noise. It was welcome, because last year I didn't hear it once. It's an unusual sound, like the last bits of tap water running through the plug hole after a bath. She called yesterday too, or possibly it was a different one as they tend to lay on alternate afternoons. Somewhere, nearby, there will be a dunnock nest with lots of tiny eggs and one mysteriously enormous one in it and, presumably, a slightly puzzled mummy dunnock sitting on it.

It's been a week of all the small things here. The baby great tits fledged. There is always one who is too small to leave the nest but goes anyway, despite not being able to fly properly. At this time of year, I am on permanent baby bird watch. I scooped the little fellow up and posted him back through the nest box despite his protestations, where mummy found him and fed him until he jumped out again half an hour later. I know because I was watching and waiting for it. I rescued him again but I'm afraid it didn't end well. It rarely does with one so small and vulnerable. At least the others made it OK.

The following day the same thing happened with the goldfinches' children. That one led me on a merry dance under the picnic table, down the crack in the pavings and beneath the fence into the middle of next door's drive. I did retrieve him (with much swearing- from him) and settled him under a patch of nettles in the garden away from the dogs. I am hoping that one had a happier ending because I didn't find evidence to the contrary.

The crab spider returned to her patch on the ox-eye daisies yesterday. I say returned, but of course this is a new generation. I've been keeping an eye out for her ever since the flowers bloomed this week. I'm also on the look-out for her husband who is very small, stripy and busy by comparison. He zooms about all over the place whereas she stays put in her flower, blending with it and eating bees to store fat for laying her eggs, after which she dies. I watched her shoot a strand of silk from her perch on the apple tree which landed in the ash opposite. She then shimmied along the silken thread, gained the ash leaves and dropped down onto the ox eyes beneath them which is where she's been ever since. Clever, clever, clever.

With the sunshine has come the damselflies. They're closing (hatching) out of the pond on a daily basis, which is just as well as most of them only live a day or two, a week at most. First came the large reds, then the common blues and yesterday, the blue-tailed. They are also busy egg-laying on the vegetation in the water.

I am also feeling relieved that the orange-tip females have finally arrived. There are four eggs on my cuckoo flowers. They lay one pointed orange egg just beneath the crown of the flowers because the larvae are cannibalistic. Last year we had three caterpillars (you may remember they were all called Brian, which is my go-to name for all caterpillars). They all made it to pupation before I lost track of them.

The Swifts arrived back in Romsey earlier this week. I find myself going to town on every whim imaginable just so I can see them and listen to them. I have whispered a prayer that they might find their way over the three miles that separates us to nest under the eaves of our house. Similarly, the white throats are also back from Africa. The males are chirping in that busy way they have from the middle of hedges. I feel myself observed by their impossibly beady eyes every time I walk by. I love their attitude, bold and cheeky.

May bugs, ermine moths and wasp beetles are all out on the wing now, so worth keeping an eye out for all the small things in your garden this week- there is a great deal to see if you just hunker down and observe.

Hope all are well,

CT :o)

30 comments:

  1. Love the treecreeper.s nest - beautiful photograph.
    When I look at your photographs I realise just how much further on the year is down there with you. Up here the lilac is not yet out.

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    1. It's amazing the difference it makes, the miles between south and north.

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  2. Thankyou for sharing your wonderful pictures, we don't seem to get many butterflies in this garden, I suppose it depends where you live and what plants you have, the butterfly bush here is doing well so hopefully we will get some. The great tit baby is adorable, we sadly only have two babies left, they are doing very well now and won't be long before they fledge, some babies just disappeared we assumed they had died and been taken out by mum and dad then we made a discovery one morning a small flock of starlings were on the shed roof and one was on the perch with his head in the box and we know the babies were spending lots of time near the hole so we think they were taken, so there is no perch there now and they haven't been back, I feel quite guilty and sad and feel its our fault. xx

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    1. It's not your fault. This is nature, red in tooth and claw. Rest assured that the balance works itself out over time. You're helping by keeping an eye on them all and moving things that make predation too easy. Also perhaps worth bearing in mind that starlings are a threatened species whereas great tits aren't. There are 5 million great tits in the U.K. and the population is rising, whereas there are 3.6 million starlings and they've lost 80% of their U.K. population since 1969. So much of conservation is a question of perspective. X

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  3. You have taken some very beautiful photographs. It's such a shame about the baby birds. I know it's nature's way but it does make me sad. It's good to know they have you on their side keeping watch.
    I also now have Blink 182 going around my head! 😊

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    1. I can't bear losing baby birds either but you can't escape it living in the country. It's the circle of life. And I know what you mean about the song- sorry! Xx

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  4. A wonderful selection of images that just epitomise this time of year. Amazing image of the damselfly looking straight on!
    I'm truly amazed, looking at all the gardeners across blog land, at the disparity of our gardens, some so much more ahead, or behind, other areas.

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    1. The place and the weather makes all the difference to where spring gets to doesn't it?

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  5. Now I learn that the pond skaters I see whizzing across our tiny pond are predators. I need to sit quietly and see who they are eating.

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    1. Anything that drops into the water is fair game. I've seen them take bees before.

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  6. It's all go, isn't it! Wonderful photos. x

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  7. Gorgeous blue damselflies, and beautiful photos of everything. Lovely to see that little great tit, even if it didn't end well. Ours are still in the nest box but now I know yours are out I shall pay even closer attention. The parents are feeding from the outside, just leaning in, on occasion now and we've glimpsed hungry mouths on the other side. Can't wait to see one come out. There have been swifts overhead here for a couple of weeks now. They nest up under the eaves of the house over the road so I can see them from the sofa, they are one of my favourite birds, and it's so good to see them close up. Hope you have a good Sunday. Park Run tomorrow? CJ xx

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    1. We've had two sets of GTs fledge this week so worth keeping eyes peeled. How fantastic about the swifts! I am green with envy xx

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    2. I love reading you nature posts.
      So much going on in your yard.
      I am working on taking care of the Arizona Bees. All the bees in America need help.

      cheers, parsnip

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    3. Thanks, Parsnip. Bees everywhere need our help so it's very reassuring to read how much people care about them all round the world.

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  8. Beautiful photos CT - stunning! Your knowledge is amazing... your own Hampshire wildlife show? Your blog makes me feel happy and content about the order of things! Meditation in a blog!
    Autumn is upon us here, grape vines are turning as are the trees! The golden robinias on our drive are losing leaves and the honey eaters and rosellas are enjoying the last of the apples!
    Warm fires and wood smoke fill the air and the mornings are crisp and the sun set to a medium warmth!
    Happy days!
    Happy Aussie Mothers Day to you!
    Love from DownUnder! Xxx

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    1. Happy Aussie Mothers Day to you too :o). I loved reading your description of autumn. Sounds very beautiful xx

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  9. Such amazing photos, CT. I especially love the large red damsel - those wings, just gorgeous. I spotted the baby deer in our garden this morning - it was actually inside the fencing surrounding the veggie patch! Good luck with the race. xx

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    1. I'm wondering if your deer is a muntjac or Chinese water deer- they are small and venture into gardens. What does Hamish make of them I wonder?! Xx

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  10. Wonderful post, I'd love to spend some time in your garden with you hearing about all the creatures. Intriguing how the dunnocks allow alien eggs into their nests. I must spend some time noting the comings and goings in ours. I know we have some dunnocks as well. Looking out to see if our crab spider returns to the rugosa rose. B x

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    1. The thinking with dunnocks is that they're a relatively new species to be parasitised by cuckoos and therefore haven't had long enough to adapt against them as reed warblers have (they reject any egg that looks suspicious). Cuckoo interaction is fascinating stuff xx

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  11. Lovely set of photos and so interesting to read of the wildlife in your garden :)
    It is such a wonderful time of year with so much to see :)

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    1. I agree- in warm weather everything comes out and I spend hours watching it all. A real treat x

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  12. Hey CT,
    All the small things abound here too. Except for crab spiders. If there are any I haven't found them. It's mine and Olly's spider Mecca. Maybe this year. We do have a visiting hedgehog though! And we are up on our garden flutter spots this year.
    Leanne xx

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    1. Excellent about your hedgehog! How wonderful! Fingers crossed for the crab spider. How's the HM training going? X

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    2. It's progressing slowly....
      I have the blisters to prove it lol

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  13. Lovely post, super photos as usual CT. And a timely reminder to slow down and have a look at all these beautiful small things. Hope all are well. Shauna.xxx

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    1. Hey lovely girl. All good here thanks. Hope you're all well- running? Xx

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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