March wildlife roundup – Walking on stilts

So rain, rain and more rain. The rivers are bursting their banks and flowing over the roads round here. Routes out of the village to the south are getting a bit risky. The footpaths, in places, are Somme-like and require well-fitted wellies or they are otherwise likely to come off (it has happened!). Yes, we definitely need stilts …  which neatly brings me to our first March visitor who comes ready equipped with his own pair.

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Heron flying overhead

I was working in the vegetable plot when this chap flew over head. No big deal, until he circled back and landed on our neighbour’s roof.

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He sidled over to the apex …

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Grey heron, Ardea cinerea

to take a good look at the buffet options. This is likely what he could see … yes, shiny bright goldfish swimming about our pond. (There are a couple of pipes in there to provide shelter. We do still lose fish to herons, but not terribly often.)

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Unfortunately for him, as I edged round the greenhouse to get a picture, I disturbed him and he was off, looking for a quieter fishing spot. In fact, although I scared him, Grey Herons are pretty big birds, with a wingspan of roughly 6 foot, so he was probably bigger than me. He was not put off by a rather elegant ornamental bronze heron, that my sister gave me, posed next to the pond and funnily enough, I have just read that decoy herons are more likely to lure herons than frighten them away.

In spite of the waves of dreadful weather besetting March, wildlife has been getting on with spring activities and procreation. Ladybirds are starting on the next generation of aphid killers. Hurray!

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The rosemary beetles are sadly multiplying too. Grrr!

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Birds are building nests and chasing each other around. The local blackbirds have been particularly aggressive with each other. At the bottom of the garden the pheasants have been strutting their stuff. That means that I will have to be careful as I weed etc., since their nests can turn up all over the place. A couple of years ago I accidentally came across one in between the runner bean posts. I left it alone, but sadly I’d done enough that it was abandoned.

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Male Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus, stalking along the boundary hedge

Pheasant shooting is prevalent around here and many of the small woods are maintained to provide cover for the birds and are kitted with raised metal drums to hold seed for them.

Another woodland bird that I am seeing about more is the nuthatch (although the picture below was taken at Wimpole Estate where these long, grain feeders are seemingly always busy with the birds).

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Nuthatches at Wimpole

Now that there are spring flowers opening and days when temperature reaches double digits, there is a steady showing of bumblebees in the garden.

Below is a red-tailed bumblebee on a species tulip, Tulipa turkestanica:

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Red-tailed bumblebee

Queens and workers (smaller) are black with red tails, whereas the males have yellow facial hair and bands at the front and rear of the thorax.

The most commonly seen bumblebee about in March here is the buff-tailed bumblebee. The queens are huge and are, in fact, the only caste to actually have a truly buff-tail. Males tails are fairly white with a yellowy/buff ring at the front and workers are nearly identical to white-tailed bumblebees.

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Buff-tailed queen bumblebee

They are a favourite of mine.

It is lovely to see so many bees about again. Once the crocuses open, they are happily about all the time in the garden. I couldn’t resist including this picture. It almost looks like the bee is squirming over the anthers in delight.

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Rabbits are becoming a huge nuisance in the garden. They are burrowing into the ditch along the bottom boundary and the hill we’ve made from project spoils.  This is a photo of one very close to the patio. It is becoming a daily chore to fill in their massive excavations in the lawn. (Not sure how to deal with them yet.)

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Rabbit pest … am I turning into Mrs McGregor?

Also, did I mention that there is a lot of mud round here?

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Pigs on a smallholding at the end of the road

Are you spotting a lot more visitors now that spring has officially started?

I am once again linking up with Tina at mygardenersays to report the wildlife that visited our garden during the last month. Why don’t you click through to see what is stopping off in her Texas-native, wildlife-friendly garden (spoiler: that cute lizard is back).

About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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21 Responses to March wildlife roundup – Walking on stilts

  1. shoreacres says:

    Apparently those rosemary beetles are not hoped-for critters, but they certainly are handsome. And I confess I coo over bunnies, despite the damage I know they can inflict on gardens. We’re in such full Spring-fling that there’s no keeping up with it at this point. We’ve just had another cold front blow through, but “cold” now means only 50F at night, or a little less, so we’re near the time when the soil will be ready for summer crops. Not only that, in another month the strawberries will be done. They’ve been available to pick since January!

    • I am a glutton for metallic sheens and Rosemary beetles are wonderfully shiny! So it’s a shame they are so destructive. Oh I am jealous of your strawberries. We have had a bit of a set-back weather-wise too, but leaf-burst is happening regardless … and next week they are promising nearly 20 deg C.

  2. Breathing Deeply says:

    Lovely pics and commentary! Love the Peter Rabbit reference ! 🙂🐇

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    Can’t wait to hear buzzing of bees in my garden. Your bumbles are beautiful.
    It’s been raining here, too, though not to flooding, thankfully.
    Maybe you could try spraying the perimeters with fox urine to deter rabbits?

    • I like the calm way you suggest that! I suspect that I am going to have to use physical barriers around the veg beds. Once the weather is nicer and we start to live outside again, they will hopefully be deterred and hop the other direction.

  4. “ Elegiac Fisher bird” as Dylan Thomas called the elegant heron. A lovely post , full of life!

  5. Tina says:

    I’ve had similar experiences with herons visiting my pond–they are certainly shy and any activity spooks them. I love your pond–I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a photo of it. Is is new? I couldn’t decide which photos I liked best, but that red tailed bumble wins the cute bug of the day award! I’m glad your bees are back and sorry the bunnies are munching. Maybe you need to be Mrs. McGregor. 🙂

    • Re. pond … I’ve never shown it from above before and clipped spiral bays dominate its front view. In fact I was just wondering whether I could hook up my son’s baby drone to take low aerial photos of the garden. A long selfie stick might be more reliable though. I’ll have to think about it a bit further.

  6. Sue says:

    That’s a very nice looking pheasant, I would love to have some around the place. Are they a nuisance at all (apart from finding their nests in your garden)? But I do love those bumble bees! 🙂

    • Mostly I don’t mind the pheasants. They do snack on a few things, but nothing like the rabbits and deer. At this time of year they are particularly fond of eating the dangling snake’s head fritillaries in the meadow patch (which is obvious annoying).

  7. Your Pheasant is gorgeous. Enjoyed seeing all your wildlife, especially that red tailed bumblebee. Bunnies are a pest we don’t have to worry about with coyotes, foxes, and bobcats on the prowl.

  8. Loved your post. We have herons here too because of the river, plus at least two nearby pairs of nesting hawks and a pair of owls. Best of all, Miss Blacksnake is out and about to control the chipmunk population and keep the copperheads away.

  9. Benjamin says:

    Lovely! Your garden looks to be a hive of activity! How wonderful is spring in the garden! Cheers,
    Ben

  10. Brian Skeys says:

    All aspects of life are playing out in you garden! Love the nuthatches.

  11. Awesome post! Good to see different species than we have here. I see many Ladybirds (we call the Ladybugs) during the summer, but a particular time in the fall when they invade the sheds and garage is very interesting. Then in the spring when it starts warming up they wake up and want back out. They really liked the mansion in Mississippi where they would squeeze through the cracks in the windows and hibernate inside in the curtains. They would huddle together in fist-sized groups. They would be on the ceilings in the bedroom by the hundreds and occasionally would fall into the bed. Rolling on one during the night would result in being bitten. A friend of mine in Mississippi had Egrets that would nest in a Crape Myrtle above her fish pool. Life and nature are truly amazing and you capture it well. Thanks for sharing!

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