Sunday, 20 October 2019

The wait is over, a Nuthatch!

Not a garden sighting as yet, but a first sighting non-the-less. Delighted! I knew where there was a chance of seeing this bird, now that it is being seen moving north and into my area of Scotland. I’ve sat by the observation window at Loch of the Lowes with camera and coffee just waiting for a glimpse, many times.

The wait finally ended yesterday and in good style too, with three very brief visits of a nuthatch during my hour’s window watch. As I sat there quietly, in terms of visitors inside and outside at the feeders, I didn’t expect any surprises. Nor did I see the nuthatch arrive at a feeder right in front of me. Spookily, I had said in my head, ‘if I see a nuthatch, today, I will blog it’. So here we are, it's been a while :-)

First image (phone) to gardenwatch companion, daughter in car park!

Wow, what an agile bird, the nuthatch was. I knew it had a sleek look from images in books and online, but what a beauty. So very fleeting its visit was too, but it did spend some time inside a feeder with mixed seed (my images were dark) keeping alert as it did. Quite a strong character it looked, but I'm guessing quite a cautious bird too with it coming to feed when feeders quiet.

Photo uploads revealed it caught an insect at feeders too (top right).

Prior to the nuthatch, the most agile bird at the feeders was a determined mallard duck on a table roof, successfully picking up seed from the table below. I had never seen that before. Quite entertaining it was. Red squirrels, always entertain and were regulars too, as was the eye catching partial leucistic coal tit that I’ve been seeing this year.

Photo uploads revealed, like the coal tit, the nuthatch favoured
black sunflower seeds. Thinking a shopping trip required now :-)

Very hard to pick a favourite image of nuthatch, but I think this is the one.

Meanwhile back in the garden another special visitor was seen at the beginning of October. Not a regular butterfly this one, the Comma, it was only seen this one bright sunny day. I was delighted again! This butterfly has only been seen on two previous years and not for long in each occasion.

This capture has a true feel of colour in the garden at the moment.

The vibrant flowers that shine on at this time of year, to me, are valued more than the first fresh colours in spring. Purple (asters following on from the buddleja), yellow (rudbeckia and acer leaves) with reds of sedum and silver foliage dotted around, a few mentions from the garden right now. The Acers have been their vibrant best and are dropping their leaves now, but for me, this year, the comma butterfly has topped autumn colour :-)

Spring and summer, 2019 have past with much to blog about in terms of garden works and visitors, but little time to do so. There have been a few garden challenges along the way, one in particular which I had thought was sorted until a few days ago. Thinking cap on again then! However, 2019 revealed a new garden visitor, another I hoped to see but never expected to, more on that another time.

Back to Autumn 2019, this morning, with apples newly out on twigs to attract passing fieldfares, redwings and waxwings to the garden. 'It's that most wonderful time of year'! I wonder what wildlife will see out the 2019 gardenwatching garden, a nuthatch would be good here ;-) What's been your garden highlights from the summer, have you any wishes/plans for this autumn?

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

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.