Monday, 30 May 2011

A stag on the washing line!

Here she is getting rather wet - and so was my washing, as I didn't want to disturb her.

What a shock I got when I went to unpeg my knickers from the washing line and almost put my hand on this fearsome beast! I feel quite sorry for her as the ideal conditions for mating involve warm, dry weather, not rain like we are getting now.

Stag beetles spend 3-5 years as a larva fattening up in rotting wood, then they turn into a pupa and finally hatch out around the end of May. They fly between May and August, not eating for this entire period and after mating, the female lays anything up to 90 eggs, often dividing them between several locations. After her task is complete, she dies, which makes me very glad I am human!

I think her antennae look just like the twirly moustache on the opera singer in the Go Compare ads!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Fox cub

Mother fox brought one of her babies to visit us yesterday. She walked right up to the patio doors, made eye contact with me, then walked away and sat in the centre of the lawn while the cub played around her. She wasn't asking for food, she was just showing off her baby. My partner thinks he glimpsed another through the hedge. I hope she brings both of them next time. I reckon this cub is male. Look at how dirty and scruffy it is!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

More fox photos

The vixen has now got so brave and bold that she walks right up to the patio doors and sits down, waiting until she has caught my eye. Then she puts her head on one side and points her huge ears towards me, waiting to catch my soothing, "Here you are, dear," as I walk out with a peanut butter sandwich or a tin of dog food.

She usually drinks from the pond...

But yesterday I caught her playing peekaboo while lapping from the bird bath.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Blackbird's nest!

My partner was just about to strim the top of the hedge that runs up the side to the garage, when a very annoyed blackbird started ticking him off. The pair have built a nest in the privet just in front of the garage door. It's a very sheltered spot beneath the perspex canopy that runs up the side, and you can just see Mrs Blackbird's beak as she stuffs caterpillars into the open beaks in the nest. I hope I shall be able to get a photo without disturbing the family.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Twin foxes

For the past few weeks, I have been wondering how one skinny-looking vixen can eat so much. She may be feeding cubs, but from the amount I'd seen her eat, it was a wonder she didn't resemble Mrs Foxy Blobby!

Now I know the answer. We've been feeding two. Identical in every way, even down to the mangy hindquarters and the lion-style blob of fur on the end of the tail. They must surely be sisters from last year's litter. I think the one in the background is a vixen, anyway; she's much shyer than the other one and grabs her food and rushes away into the bushes to eat it, so I've never had much chance to study her. The tamer vixen eats her grub at the end of the decking. They are exactly the same shape and size, so I don't think the other one is a dog fox. I shall be on the lookout for him/her now, so I can find out.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Blue butterfly identification

Not one Peacock to be seen this year, but plenty of small blue butterflies which are terribly hard to photograph as they flutter extremelt speedily and won't stay put. This one happened to stray in through the open doors and I got this one shot of it next to the stickies that are supposed to stop birds colliding with the glass (it's worked so far).

Anyone know which species of blue butterfly this is?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Swifts and sparrows

I saw five swifts today but they were too high up for me to hear their distinctive shrill shrieks.
This morning on the lawn I saw my first baby bird of the season - a sparrow chick being fed by a parent. Shame there was only one. Does it mean the rest of the clutch didn't hatch? Or perhaps this one was the first to fledge. I shall keep watch to see if I can spot any more.

Friday, 6 May 2011

A healthy meal

Here is the fox with her muzzle in some probiotic yoghurt that was past its eat-by. I hope it does her good and helps cure her mange. A friend told me that she started feeding a mangy fox and after a few weeks of a good diet, the mange began to clear up. I hope the same thing happens to this mother vixen.

Robin bathing

This saucer is Flad's drinking bowl, but the cheeky robin has taken it over and is using it for his daily baths. He hops in, splashes about, then sits with his wings spread out to dry.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Swifts are back!

They always arrive the same week every year. Today it's the 4th of May. Last year, I think they came on the 6th or 7th (I must check). It's so glorious to see them again. The one I saw was beltng over the garden just above hedgetop height, then made a swoop and a curving dart up to the tree tops and between the oaks. Such aerobatics!

PS They arrived in Hillingdon on May 5th in 2010 and May 7th in 2009.