Friday, 26 May 2017

" Kindergarden "

Its that time of year again when the garden takes on the guise of a kindergarten. Juvenile birds are being brought to the feeders, although they seem more interested in begging for food, but I suspect they will get the idea soon enough and learn where to find an easy source of food.

Blackbirds nesting close by in the Ivy were first to show off their offspring, only two made it to juvenile status, they are still being seen around the garden, and still taking food from the adults despite their size.

Male Blackbird and Juvenile

House Sparrows visit the feeders now with a trailing posse of juveniles, they seemed to have done very well once again with lots of House Sparrows being seen around the garden.

House Sparrow

As I mentioned on previous blog pages, our garden Robins managed to raise five juveniles, they are still being seen around the garden, although I suspect that when those red breast feathers come through they will be chased away.

The demanding Starlng Juveniles have now invaded the garden with there incessant screeching for food.

Juvenile Starling
The last few days have seen a Great Tit family visiting the feeders, suet and sunflower seeds appear to be their favorite food source at the moment.

Great Tit

As you can see " kindergarten" seems very apt at the moment.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

"The boys are out" !!!

After what seemed like a twenty four hour deluge of rain, the last thing I was expecting to see were Bumblebee's, albeit very small Bumblebees, but there they were, at least five Early Nesting Bumblebees drinking up nectar from the flowers of a huge aromatic Umbellifer. possibly Common Hogweed, I'm not sure and must admit to a distinct lack of knowledge when it comes to identifying specimens from this group of plants.

Fortunately the flower heads were at  eye level so photographing this little Bumblebee was made a lot easier for a change. my first impression because of the size, were that these were Early Bumblebee workers, totally wrong, closer inspection reveals a wide yellow band on the shoulders and yellow hairs on the head making these all males.

The Early Nesting Bumblebee is one of the short-tongued Bumblebees, and this photograph clearly shows that, and the yellow hair on the head.

There is another identifying factor, if you manage to get a close view, males do not have pollen baskets on the back legs.

Because this Bumblebee is an early nesting Bumblebee, some literature suggests that this species of Bumblebee may be able to go through two colony cycles in a year, males do not normally appear until the end of a colony cycle.

 Once the males leave the nesting colony they do not return, so seeing these males frantically feeding in the early morning suggests that they may have rested all night under the flower heads for easy access to the nectar at the start of the day, allowing them to warm up.

Sadly this probably means that this colony is coming to the end of its life.

These males now have one aim, and that is to mate, they will patrol a circuit laying down a scent at strategic spots in order to attract a newly emerged queen who will hopefully find the scent so irresistible that she will allow him to mate with her.

I will have to keep a lookout for newly emerged Queens now. 

Any help on the identity of this Umbellifer would be appreciated, if my initial I.D. is wrong.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Gone..... But not forgotten !

The first occupation of a bird box in the garden was a success in the end, even though  the bird box was very close to our conservatory window and the bird feeders next to the pond with many birds coming and going, the Robins totally unphased, got on with the job of rearing their brood.

I managed to get  a couple of long range photographs of the nest box and counted five gaping mouths begging for food, slightly above the normal clutch of four.

So approximately sixteen days after egg laying was completed, I believe the eggs hatched, both adult birds were seen taking food to the nest and occasionally taking away the faecal sac's.

I was hoping to see the young birds fledged, but a city break in Rome meant I missed the actual event, which was disappointing , I'm assuming all went well because the box was empty on our return, with no sign of any juveniles around the garden.

Strangely the female has been bringing nesting material again to the box and built a new nest on top of the other. but she has not been in the box for a few days now.

As I mentioned in my recent blog about the Robins, I have been supplementing there feeding with a few well placed meal worms, these appear to have been gratefully appreciated, things have progressed on a bit now with both adult Robins becoming very familiar and bold.

Female on my wifes foot

Robin checking out my camera  and waiting for a feed. ( phone picture)

This is not the end of the story, I noticed that the Adults were not eating  all the mealworms but flying to the trees at the end of the garden and that's where I noticed a Juvenile fly to the adult and take the mealworm, and there they were, hiding in the trees, the juvenile Robins.

I have been watching closely over the last day or two and have spotted the juveniles in among  the garden shrubs.

And that's a nice ending to this little story.