The Garden Diary
May (part 2) - 2002
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16 May - The picture represents some tantalising images of Swifts, appearing for the first time yesterday evening and spending most of today high above us. Occasionally, they come down lower and go screeching past the house too fast for me to point the camera at them successfully.
I haven't seen any House Martins yet, although they should appear soon. We used to have a number of pairs nesting under the eves of houses in the road but in recent years the number has dwindled. Last year only one pair nested here. I put up some artificial House Martin nests but they have not been used.
While trying to get a swift picture a pair of Rooks, including this one flew by. There seems to be six of them about. I don't know where their rookery has been set up.
It has been a very warm, sunny day today, but it has not been all good news in the garden. There is a bit of sad news about the Thrift flower pictured above. Some little creature(!) ate through the flower stalk last night and the flower lies on the ground today. While on the subject of 'pests' the bright sunshine brought another visit by some Scarlet Lily Beetles which I removed from the Fritillaries.
I guess that the robin fledglings must be getting more independent now as the male adult has been after mealworms far less today, although I still haven't seen any of his offspring.
I have caught a few glimpses of young House Sparrows being fed and a fledgling Starling paid a brief visit this morning. This evening, a look up at the Sparrow boxes was rewarded by this image of two hungry chicks.
17 May - It is a pleasant, breezy start to what promises to be another very warm day.
There are several noisy Starling fledglings about, although they seem to be hiding and their parents are on a constant search for food.
At the beginning of the month I mentioned how the female Blackbird hade become shy and secretive, and was leaving all the feeding of the fledglings to dad. Well, this morning she has started taking food (raisins and mealworms) away, confirming my suspicion of a second brood.
A few days ago I mentioned about one of the young blackbirds pestering a Chaffinch for food. Well a more bizarre incident happened this morning when one of the youngsters spotted a junvenile Starling at the bird bath. It flew up and tried begging it for food! The Starling, which had only just been unsuccessfully trying to attract the attention of an adult, looked rather bemused at this attempt and moments later they were both bathing.
Click on the image to see a larger version
19 May - On a very pleasant, sunny morning, feeding the offspring seems to be the order of the day with the Starlings and the House sparrow fledglings making quite a noise as they pester any bird that looks like a parent.
Small (15mm across) but very pretty are the flowers of the Wood Avens (Geum urbanum). They grow under the birch tree and the first flower opened yesterday, two weeks earlier that last year. The plants grow to 50-60cm tall.
22 May - Today has been a windy day with only a bit of rain. The present conditions are encouraging a lot of plant growth. The Elder has shot up over the last week or so and I'm wondering whether I ought to do a bit of pruning!
The picture shows how one of the teasel plants is developing its flower head (about the size of a thumb so far), one of several between the big pond and the fence.
Bird activity is being dominated by the Starlings and their very noisy fledglings. The adult Blackbirds continue to take food awy to their nest. The robin is taking less away now.
Yesterday I saw a Dunnock in the garden for the first time in a while.
24 May - An 'unseasonable' low has arrived today. There was heavy rain early in the morning, but this eased off by breakfast and the rest of the day has been more or less dry, but very windy.
Yesterday the Foxgloves started opening and over the last few days the Cotoneaster plant by the Hawthorn has come into flower. Last year it failed to produce many berries. It has a good covering of flowers - I just hope the bees do their job well.
As the Cotoneaster come into flower, the winds this week have just about cleared the Hawthorn of its flower petals. A few flowers still hang on, but the tree looks a bit sad now.
Last year it went on its best ever show of berries.
In the light of the fledging of the Blue Tits today, it was particularly sad to find this dead chick on the bonnet of my car this afternoon. It measures about 4cm long and I guess that it had died and been removed from a nest by its parent.
25 May - Despite the weather forecast the day was not too bad - a case of sunshine and a few showers.
The sunshine brought out only a couple of butterflies today, including this Holly Blue which spent a while on various leaves, usually keeing one side to the sun. The thin dark rim on the edges of its wings indicates that it is a male.
These are very small butterflies (wing span about 3cm max) and I find them difficult to approach. This one was photographed from across my pond with a telephoto adaptor fitted to the camera!
The other butterfly was a Large White, which did not land in the garden.
The Sparrow and Starlings continue to feed their fledglings, and I saw a Starling take away some dead bamboo leaves, so nesting is not over yet for them. The Blackbird youngsters still make frequent visits to the garden - they enjoy raisins. The Chaffinches are here a lot of the time now, although I haven't seen their offspring in the last few days.
A lack of sunshine has contributed to a drop in temperature of nearly 10C. A little bit earlier the temperature had dropped to just over 9C.
I guess that this bee is feeling the effects of the colder conditions. It has been clinging to the side of the mealworm feeder for the last couple of hours, ignored by the Blue Tits as they visit.
I think the bee is a male Early bumblebee (bombus pratorum).
27 May - This morning, about 7.30am I noticed this Starling fledgling on the tray below the seed feeder. It has obviously had a rough night, and, while I watched, it slept there for at least ten minutes before stirring. I get the impression that it has lost contact with its parents.
A short while later it was down on the ground tackling some chopped peanuts. Hopefully, the parents will return soon.
Click on the image to see a larger version
A Coal Tit appeared briefly in the Hawthorn but disappeared before I could point the camera its way.
In the way of an update on the House Sparrow chicks I photographed on 16 May, here is one of those chicks this afternoon, looking out and occasionally calling for food.
When the calls are rewarded, the parent (in this case dad) has to pass the food 'on the wing'.
Yesterday evening I spotted this shield bug, which had drowned in the pond. I think it is a Common Green Shield Bug (Palomena prasina). It does not have any wings so it must be an immature insect. Its antennae are folded under the body.
First thing this morning we had a visitor in the kitchen when a newly fledged and chirping sparrow wandered in for a minute or two before heading out again. I'm wondering whether it's the one I photographed yesterday.
30 May - No diary entry today, but just a note to say that there will be no further entries until until I return from Cornwall at the end of next week.