Thursday, 25 June 2009

Strafed by a swift!

We are lucky in having a large group of swifts hunting in the skies above our street. As I was walking home this morning, one swooped so close that it almost brushed my hair. I could feel the draught as it whizzed over my head... and vanished under the eaves of a house where it must be nesting. It was a thrilling experience to witness the power and agility of this bird so close at hand.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Harlequin Ladybirds

"Look at this lot," said my partner, ushering me out to the cherry tree. The tree has leaf curl and aphids, and these have attracted ladybirds, but ones that looked nothing like I'd ever seen before. I sent a photo up to a website run by ladybird expert Paul Mabbot ( and he told me that they were Harlequin ladybirds, the invasive foreign species that first arrived in Britain in 2004 and is replacing our cherry red and black native species. Every stage of ladybird development was happening before our eyes on the cherry leaves: pupa, hatching, spiky grub and fully grown ladybird. They are not nearly as pretty as the familiar British insect and I'm wondering what is the best way to wipe the beasties out.

Sunday, 21 June 2009


I thought I'd see how many different bees I could find in the garden this afternoon. Apart from the horbet, which doesn't qualify, I only found four. One, a small mortar bee, had left before I could grab the camera, but here are a worker bee, a small bumble bee and a larger bumble. There is a huge one that rumbles past from time to time but I didn't see it today.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Nest-building sparrows

Having been glued to Springwatch, I know that some birds are now raising a second brood. This must be true for the local sparrows as I saw a male presenting a beakful of grass and straw to a female yesterday, which were obviously destined for a brand new nest.

On the downside, I saw a dead baby starling on the pavement. It didn't look well developed enough to fly so perhaps it had fallen, or been dragged, from its nest as it looked as if it had been bitten or chewed. The sparrowhawk was much in evidence yesterday and the crows and magpies set up a deafening warning racket as he soared over the trees.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Swift survey

The RSPB are doing a survey on swifts, so if you see any in your area, do fill in their survey form on their website. I did so this morning after seeing almost a dozen of them whizzing and shrieking between the houses.

Several more frogs have moved into the pond, which next door's extremely naughty Bengal cat keeps trying to catch. She and her siblings have put paid to several frogs in the past, so I have just bought a water pistol to deter not only her, but the swaggering tom cat that keeps bullying our Felix.