Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Wordless Wednesday: Spot the wildlife



This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in April 2019.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

The boatman and the ladybird

As per much gardenwatching over the years, unexpected sightings often happen when the focus is on something else. Last Sunday, a morning check on the wildlife pond frogspawn didn’t just reveal a thin layer of ice (which was a worry). Here’s the real wildlife drama in pictures...

Early morning frost leaves ice along the pond edge where the frogspawn sits.


Mid-morning sun melts ice and the frog's eggs look like they are developing.


Across from the frogspawn, is this a new pond creature with an orange patch?
No, the strong sunlight confused things, looking through the camera zoom,
a greater water boatman/backswimmer has a hold of a ladybird!


Snapping a few zoom shots, cropped here, clearly revealed a ladybird had been caught and was being held by a boatman and it was still moving!


The boatman and the ladybird slowly spun around the surface of the water.


Did the boatman get bored? Did it get disturbed by my camera clicking?
Whatever the reason, the ladybird was left floating on the water surface.


Having seen, through my camera lens, that the ladybird’s legs were moving,
I picked off a pond edge bergenia leaf and scooped the ladybird out.
It remained still for a bit looking like it had never been near water at all.


Slowly the ladybird began moving, it turned around and headed up over the leaf.
This cropped image shows how soggy it still was. Was it going to survive?


I have no idea, but this seven-spot ladybird knew where it was heading now.
Had my camera lens just discovered it, I would have had no idea of the drama.
This ladybird looks completely well and at home in it's environment.


Watching the new wildlife environment that can be found in a garden pond has become quite fascinating. We have much to learn about it's current inhabitants and with each one we want to know more. I can't recommend having a garden pond highly enough, it would be just brilliant if sharing our discoveries resulted in other garden ponds being built. What a fabulous boost for wildlife that would be :-)

Wishing you a great weekend in your garden, wildlife and pond watching too. We are still waiting on our first hedgehog sightings but the weeds are well underway and in need of attention. Garden works involving cameras are ongoing too :-)

Below is some info on the water boatman. I have also read that where the greater boatman is carnivorous the lesser boatman is smaller and isn't, nor does it swim on its back. My guess is that our ladybird had wandered on to a sunny, pond edge pebble or rock where a boatman/backswimmer was and that's where it got caught. I hope it had a happy ending.


”The Common Backswimmer, also known as the 'Water Boatman', is widespread and common in ponds, ditches and canals across the UK. It can swim upside-down through the water, often near the surface where it grabs insects that have fallen into the water film. It is an active and voracious predator, hunting many smaller invertebrates, tadpoles and small fish. Sensing the vibrations of its prey, it charges at it with lightning speed and stabs it with its 'beak', injecting toxic saliva into the wound so it can suck out the contents of the body. Common Backswimmers mate between December and May, laying eggs from February onwards. The larvae go through a number of moults before reaching adulthood.”

“The Common Backswimmer is light brown with large, reddish eyes. It has powerful, oar-like hind legs, which it uses as paddles when it swims upside-down. Its body resembles the shape of a boat, hence its other common name. It may have a silvery appearance due to trapped air bubbles on its lower surface, which allow it to breathe.”

The Wildlife Trusts, Common Backswimmer




This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in April 2019.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

First frogspawn 23/3/19, no hedgehogs yet

A wildlife pond highlight, for sure, was the discovery of a clump of frog spawn in the shallow, sunlit pond edge last weekend. It was a quick snapshot on my phone to record the moment, after stepping near the edge to avoid garden works chaos created with new wiring work for the hedgehog feeding station. I couldn’t believe my eyes! That busy morning I hadn’t checked for spawn and there it was.

After regular evening torch trips to see possible mating, after one frog was spotted moving among the nicely dense pond plants last week, we missed the event that our wildlife pond was built for. Has this clump been fertilised? Will we see more spawning yet? Time will tell. For now, we are just thrilled that our pond has the right conditions for the full life cycle of the common frog. This one returned :-)



As yet, there have been no return sightings of hedgehogs for 2019. Around now, the end of March, I am expecting them to be coming out of their winter hibernation here. I suspect our first clues will be seeing hedgehog droppings on the grass or paths. Sad, but true, seeing this always makes me smile. We feel so very privileged when we see evidence that they have visited.

Seeing hedgehogs moving around the garden, live, via cameras, has always been such an enormous treat and something I never tire of or take for granted. I know only too well, how special this is. Time permitting, sharing clips and photos with updated technology is the plan for 2019. I wonder what other wildlife visitors and activity we will discover, especially around the pond. We won’t count neighbours’ cats (a problem at the moment).


Hedgehog feeding station with new camera installed, image taken last night.
Open and ready for hungry hedgehogs passing by. No cats please!


Our previous IR cameras served us well, both inside and outside this and previous feeding stations and a hedgehog house made by my daughter. These early days were such fun with so many new discoveries of the garden at night. Work is still ongoing on the full camera system for 2019 but it’s an interesting project to explore. It’s happening soon too, my birthday being the driving force for my husband. What a fantastic birthday gift and one we will all be able to share :-)

Wishing you a great weekend of garden projects and wildlife. Perhaps you have plans for 2019 too? I must make time to get out more with my daytime camera and capture the garden plants throughout the months when flowering and in bud. I've missed doing that.

Wishing you many photo opportunities in your garden and out and about too. I'm thinking if it's sunny we will see bees, early butterflies and maybe signs of birds collecting nesting material. It's all go in the garden right now, enjoy :-)



This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in March 2019.