Welcome to the latest instalment of Lockdown Wildlife Watching 26th May – 3rd June 2020. This one overlaps with the first few days of this years 30 Days Wild event. Organised by The Wildlife Trusts, this initiative is aimed at getting people connected with nature by whatever means they can invent, imagine or create. Nothing is ruled out, what’s ruled in is doing something wildlife centric every day throughout the month of June. It’s not too late to take part and should you be so inclined, visit their website to download a pack full of inspirational ideas. It’s tailor made for children and families, providing lots of ideas to fill these long days of lockdown. I don’t intend to document my daily efforts, although there is bound to be something wild in my life with every passing 24 hour period. However, I can summarise the first few days, just for a bit of fun. Here we go.
Day 1 – Monday 1st June – A day of bees. A lovely sunny day of cloudless blue skies, as clear and smooth as porcelain. Plenty of time then to shuffle around the garden to see what fancied using our jungle for a spot of R&R. I’m trying to make a video recording of garden wildlife, and spent some time lying in wait for juvenile blackbirds to raid the mahonia bushes which are laden with white-bloomed, blue berries hanging like grapes. I also tried to capture various other inhabitants, but I’m a relative novice at using my DSLR kit in this fashion and the results were very much hit or miss. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortuitously (time will tell) even the shortest burst of HD video capture far exceeds the upload limit for this site, so I’ve resorted to setting up a YouTube channel which at least allows me to embed the video – see below. Much of the useable footage is of bees and other insects nectaring on various plants, notably the ox-eye daisies and a glorious buddleia globosa which is simply full of bees of all kinds. One thing I did manage to capture was a second nest of a patchwork leafcutter bee utilising the bee hotel I’ve repositioned to an obviously more suitable spot. It is truly fascinating watching these tiny insects at work, I even managed to see one cut a small section of leaf from a rowan tree. The work was completed in just a few seconds after which it will fly directly to the chosen nest hole to use the cutting to block a chamber wherein an egg has been laid and provisioned with plenty of pollen.
The old, rather worn and forlorn cherry tree stump features as it is still attracting life. Not only does it provide a perfect perch for our male blackbird to proclaim his ownership of half the garden, it is also providing raw material for wasps to make their nest.
Day 2 – Tuesday 2nd June – Horsford Woods.
A day spent with my son, daughter-in-law and lovely grandson in Horsford Woods. I’ve never walked through this area before, situated just off the NDR, and confess I was pleasantly surprised. Several warblers were present, whitethroats uttering their scratch song from the more scrubby zones, chiffchaffs and blackcaps sweetly fluting from denser scrub. Open rides provided day flying moths and a few common blues and skippers whilst the woods themselves sheltered stock doves and contained several oaks of impressive age and stature. Young Jacob was fascinated with my binoculars as well as wanting to press the shutter button on my camera every few minutes. Something to encourage once this futile and repugnant lockdown is cast into oblivion.
Once back home, I thought I would inspect the pond area to see if there was anything new worth snapping. To my surprise and delight there certainly was in the form of a lovely currant clearwing moth, the first I’ve ever seen. Now whether they regularly visit the garden I couldn’t say, but in our 36 year residency I’ve never encountered one. I suppose the fine, warm weather coupled with enforced imprisonment combines to produce these kind of sightings. Almost a positive for Lockdown!
Day 3 – Wednesday 3rd June
A trip to Wheatfen with my friend Elizabeth Dack. Sadly the bright, sunny weather of the past few weeks had finally given way to overcast skies and a cooling breeze which kept most dragonflies hunkered down out of sight. We did however see a few scarce chasers and several azure and blue-tailed damselflies, as well a host of small creatures going about their business amongst the nettles and bog plants. Most welcome was the sight and sound of a cuckoo as well as a gorgeous male marsh harrier. This wonderful, peaceful and pristine Broadland site has not shut down like others, has kept its toilets functioning and pathways mowed. Access has been welcomed which made me wonder why on earth has everywhere else closed its doors as though some virulent plaque is dropping people in the street. Corporate lack of backbone and stupidity I fear lies behind that one. In any event hats off to the staff at Wheatfen.
After concluding the sun was unlikely to poke through the banks of roiling cloud any time soon, we motored to a rather special place in the Tas Valley. There we spent an hour or so watching delightful water voles in clean, clear waters surrounded by flowering yellow flag, ragged robin and on dryer areas massed ranks of piercing blue germander speedwell. We even managed to connect with a nearby territorial little owl; a most satisfying conclusion to the day.
We came upon this family of swans quite close to the Wheatfen car park. Dad was a bit wary, but mum and the newly hatched cygnets were most obliging. here one of the youngsters seems to be copying his mum with a spot of preening.
Days 4-7 were, I’m sorry to say pretty cold and windy with plenty of much needed rain. Accordingly, I didn’t venture far, only into the garden to take a few pics of raindrops on some foliage.
For more blogs on Lockdown Wildlife Watching click here.