In spite of several dreadfully wet days, February gradually brought real signs that spring was emerging. Honeybees could be seen happily buzzing around brightly coloured spring bulbs.
Drone flies, Eristalis tenax, were out in numbers too. They are one of the few hoverflies to overwinter in adult form, with the females emerging on mild winter days to seek out spring blossoms.
The willow has been flowering and is providing much needed early pollen. It has been a veritable magnet for drone flies, honey bees and buff-tailed bumble bees:
I even found a bright green caterpillar tucked up, snug, inside a lovely hellebore flower:
But then the #BeastfromtheEast and storm Emma arrived and things haven’t been the same since. We didn’t actually get that much snow here in Cambridge, but it has been bitter with temperatures below zero (centigrade) for several days and wind chill factors making it feel like -9 or -10.
Our boiler gave up the ghost last week, which didn’t help things either. I huddled indoor wearing too many layers to count and broke open packets of those hikers hand-warming sachets!
I didn’t expect to see much wildlife either, but of course, when everything is covered in snow and ice, our provisions for local wildlife are much more important and attractive. I saw starlings in the garden (on the fat-ball feeder) for the first time in years:
The feeders have needed to be completely filled, not just topped up, daily, especially with the sunflower hearts. Providing drinking water for any length of time has been difficult.
I’ve also tried putting out uncooked oats on flat dishes for the blackbirds and robins and chopped apples for the thrushes. The apples weren’t a big success, but the oats were popular with a range of birds, including those annoying fat wood pigeons.
We’ve had over a dozen chaffinches visiting during the snowy weather and they are looking pretty healthy this winter. Last year it was noticeable that several had growths cause by the Fringilla papillomavirus (FPV).
Out of sight of the kitchen window, at the edge of the garden, I have found several freshly excavated holes in the lawn over the last week or two. I am not sure where the dry material and fluff has come from (old nesting material?), but it looks like major expansion work is being carried out … in our garden. Oh dear.
I am fairly certain that these holes are being created by rabbits burrowing in from the boundary ditch. At least, I have this evidence:
Elsewhere, in the vegetable patch, our kale has been consumed in a wholescale way and the incriminating prints look like tiny hoofs.
So, I am thinking that our deer must be some of the healthiest around and I’ve had to resort to buying our kale from the supermarket!
It looks like I will have to get seriously creative to keep any vegetables for ourselves this year.
Anyhow, I’ve had enough of winter now … Roll on spring.
I am joining Tina @mygardenersays for her monthly Wildlife Wednesday meme (sorry, I know I am late).