Tuesday, 25 July 2017

the verdant garden in high summer

The verdant garden in high summer. Rain barrels and ponds swollen with water after heavy rains.  At George's Pond,  a red darter dragonfly is perched on a flag iris stalk. Soil moist, warm and productive.  
The Vegetable Garden is yielding well.

The garden has been stripped of song as the birds enter their annual moult. It must take a huge amount of energy to replace all of their feathers. At this time moulting birds are most vulnerable to predators. Small birds' consumption at the feeders has reduced significantly and where there was constant movement, there is now stillness. We watch from our 'end of shift' cups of tea as an especially bedraggled great tit comes to the feeder on mum and dad's terrace. Above our kitchen gable, a tree sparrow calls as if using a tiny, cheap plastic trumpet. It has a second brood of young that have not yet fledged. They chirrup constantly but I daren't check the nest for numbers in case the young 'spring'. As young birds approach fledging, they are likely to 'spring' from the nest if disturbed. The calling is new behaviour as the adult birds have been very secretive until now. My guess is that the calls are to encourage the young to leave the nest.
Vixen drinking at pond

Two juvenile kestrels can be heard throughout the garden - a shrieking, alarming call - and their presence alone must drive smaller birds into hiding. Kestrels (one of our smallest falcons*) will take small birds. I disturb the kestrels on the Cedar walk paths.  They take a good look at me before flying noisily away.

My trail cam has been recording a vixen drinking from the Birch border pond. Rural foxes are seen less frequently than urban foxes and their numbers are in decline. This is possibly due to a reduction in rabbit populations but also because of aggressive control of their numbers on farms. The vixen is a beautiful animal, carrying none of the mange that I've seen on her urban cousins.

Large emerald moth
Andy and Ann dropped by and gave me five bat boxes last week. I've sited them on trees around the garden. I once had a blue tit in one.

And planning for next year is underway. I've sited two medium nest boxes for starlings with more to make. And have been told about little owls breeding on the farm. Winter evenings building little owl boxes in my man shed listening to Nottingham Forest on the local radio...

I'd left Jill poring over last night's haul of moths at the dining table. Last night, the sky was clear and it was a little chillier than we've had recently, but there were thirty three species for me to collect at the light this morning.  I'm interrupted by a rush of feet. It's a woman with a moth in a pot.
'A large emerald!'. New for us.

*Correction made as suggested in comments...

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