We’ve spent the summer re-digging the pond on the patio due to a worrying leak, but now it is done. The nine fish are back in it, as are some much reduced baskets of iris, skunk cabbage and marsh marigold. However, even though there is three-way pipe in there for the fish to hide in, everything is worrying clear and exposed and I am waiting for the inevitable arrival of one of these:
Oh yes, I wish our pond to look like this, but this was a grey heron that we spotted at Cambridge botanical gardens a couple of weeks ago. They were doing large-scale maintainance there too, removing many of the reeds etc. and I guess that the fish were considerably disturbed by it all and this chap was taking advantage.
Back at home, we’ve been OK so far, but I might get another protective pipe to lessen my concern.
As we ease in September I’ve noticed that the most common bumblebee around now seems to be the common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum). This species is typically seen on flowers later in the year. Bombus pascuorum has a medium length tongue which makes it a good fit for the typically long-throated late summer/autumn flower like thyme, verbena, caryopteris etc. The nectar in these flowers can only be reached by a bumblebee with a medium to long tongue.
Have followed the bumblebees from flower to flower to get a good shot I was realised how vicious their tongues really look, but then I read that they possess an extendable tongue sheath. In fact their tongues are delicate and feathery. There are some wonderful photos of Carder bee tongues on this nature blog: TrogTrogBlog
Buff-tailed bumblebee (bombus terrestris) are also out in force enjoying the long-throated sweetly scented flowers of buddleia and caryopteris …
There is something very attractive about the concentration these bees apply to plunge their tongues down those lovely trumpets to get the nectar.
Also supping up that sweet nectar and thankfully making a small late season come back are small tortoiseshell butterflies. Here they are on a buddleia next to our pond, but emerging asters and late season purple loosestrife are proving a big draw for them too. In August I hardly saw even one tortoiseshell.
Brimstones, with their brilliantly glowing lime-yellow wings, are also once again looping through the garden. They often settle on the scarlet runner bean flowers, but this one is enjoying a Queen Red Lime zinnia (sounds like a cocktail!)
Water is always a draw to wildlife and it has got to the stage in the year where young fledglings are becoming quite independent and adult in behaviour, except that they are more fearless. I was able to approach the drilled rock fountain, all the way across the patio with this young robin watching me. He continued to bathe throughout. You can see that his red breast colouring is just beginning to appear.
In fact the bubbling rock water feature is the most successful addition that we have made to the garden. Initially it was only visited by larger birds who drank from it, but these days it is alive with small birds, drinking and bathing and larking around. I only had my pocket camera with me yesterday, when I noticed a new bird enjoying it. This is it, on the fountain (there are also two fledgling greenfinches on the ground to the right):
I tried to zoom in to get a good look, but the camera isn’t up to it. Digital zoom just gives a very noisy picture. It is clearly a warbler of some kind, but I can’t tell if it is a garden warbler or chiffchaff. If you have an opinion on this I’d be pleased to hear it.
September is already showing signs of the seasons turning. I don’t know how much longer we will be able to watch the swallows swirling around the gardens at Wimpole. There are two or three exceptionally tall trees just outside the walled garden that are particularly favoured roosts. The sudden bursts of noise and activity, followed by the slow circling ebb as they return to their perches, will be a big loss to the dynamics of the garden when they begin their long journey back south soon.
My least favourite sign of autumn is already present. I am talking about spiders and their webs. Every morning I find myself walking into a large web that has been spun across the greenhouse doorway and I never seem to remember!
Each day more webs appear, strung up between any tall plants or posts. These are more obvious than the one cross the greenhouse door, because they are occupied. The resident spiders hanging centrally, as though suspended in space. I do love the look of dew/mist on webs, but I could do without having to shake myself down so often.
I am joining with Tina at mygardenersays in sharing some of the wonders of wildlife to be found in our gardens. Her post today is bursting with exotic young birds achieving their dramatic adult colours too.