This month’s wildlife sightings were lean, which was mostly down to a combination of absences and earth moving experiences! The earth moving experience was noisy and disruptive for everyone around because, with the dull start to August, we finally decided to dismantle an above ground pool that we’d built for the kids ~10yrs ago.
Breaking up the concrete base
Fortunately our immediate neighbours were away for the part where we got some guys with big machines to break up the 10″ concrete base and while they had the digger on site we asked them, very nicely, to excavate the underlying clay to 1m. Well OK, we paid them, and they really, really weren’t keen on removing the clay. We, on the other hand, now have a relatively clean slate and can look forward to the fun of making a large wildlife pond.
Excavating to 1m
As fate would have it, on the last day of digging it began to rain, so it all got very messy. Furthermore, with the intermittent rain that we’ve had ever since, the pool is filling faster than we can deal with! Which neatly brings me to the first wildlife photo of the post: A Ruddy Darter dragonfly. Because no sooner was there water in the base than there were mating dragonflies visiting the puddle. At one point I counted 5 pairs and a couple of individuals. Here is one of the stationary loners, watching the pairs and other interested bugs:
While we were raking and trying to remove the worst of the stones in the base, we were watched by scores of goldenfinches in our boundary hedge. It felt like we were the entertainment as they chatted and called from tree to tree. As Steve raked I snapped this next shot of some of them spectating, but only realised how many fledglings made up the charm once I saw the pictures later:
Goldfinch and young
We have a couple of apple trees near the earth works and both ripen early (one is a Grenadier – a delicious cooker). I was nervous about the entire crop ending up on the grass as a result of vibrations. Fortunately, there was no obvious correlation with the digging and the apples have been falling at a normal rate. A number of birds have been enjoying these spoils, particularly blackbirds, but beyond these regular visitors I spotted an odd looking pinkish bird. I grabbed the camera to get a closer look and this is what I saw (high zoom, poor quality I am afraid):
A male bullfinch, collecting what appear to be ant eggs (but I am guessing). Bullfinches are notoriously shy birds and are rarely seen in the open. I’ve only seen them in the garden a couple of times. Sadly, they are regarded as pests in some areas due to their habit of destroying, not just eating, flower buds on fruit trees in the spring. In these regions they are controlled under licence.
August wasn’t a good month for seeing beautiful butterflies. There were (and still are) plenty of large and small whites about. Last year, while the purple loosestrife was in flower, it was covered in tortoiseshells, practically one per spike. This year I’ve seen the odd one on it if I am lucky. Buddleia still works its magic, drawing the butterflies that are on the wing, but the numbers just aren’t there to pull.
Small tortoiseshell butterfly
I quite liked this shot of a Red Admiral butterfly feeding though:
Red Admiral feeding on verbena
When I let the dog out at night I often find myself letting moths in. This green beauty (below) came in the other night, but I’ve no idea what it is. I’ve failed to ID it, either online using keys or from combing through our ‘Insect’ reference books. So if you’ve any idea what it is please let me know, in the comment section. Thanks.
Ladybirds come in many colours and spot combinations, but this tiny example (~3mm) must have the highest ratio of spots to surface area. It is a 22-spotted ladybird and is the brightest of the yellow British ladybirds, although the pronotum can sometimes be white.
I had a hard job taking a photo of it, because it tends to run to the underside of leaves. It is usually found low down in vegetation as it is a mildew eater (rather than aphid). I only found it because I was down in the dirt, tidying the border.
To end this post I am sharing a couple of photos taken on my birthday at Gooderstone Water Gardens in Norfolk. After exploring the gardens, we eventually made our way to the bird hide beside the large lake, only to be told by the previous occupants that we’d just missed a great display by a kingfisher who’d fed in front of them and then flown away. Nevertheless we still decided to wait … and wait … until we were happily rewarded with a wonderful sighting. The kingfisher flew in front of the hide and settled on the nearest stick to us.
Then he turned around so that we got a good view of that startling blue flash on his back too.
I was ecstatic. It was a great highlight to the day.
Thanks to Tina at mygardenersays who hosts the monthly Wildlife Wednesday meme.