"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Highlights of the Year Part 2 - April to June


April to June produced several new moths for the garden (it was only my second full year of moth trapping so am still gathering lots of new "ticks").

1st April Double-striped Pug
15th April Brindled Beauty
15th April Seraphim
20th May Pale Tussock
27th May Freyer's Pug
3rd June Elephant Hawkmoth
3rd June Shoulder-striped Wainscot
3rd June Green Pug
13th June Ingrailed Clay
26th June Light Emerald
26th June Dusky Brocade
26th June Bee Moth
26th June Garden Grass Veneer
26th June Lozotaeniodes formosanus
26th June Brown China Mark
26th June Dipleurina lacustrata

Many thanks to Dean and Stewart and anyone else who helped me identify many new moth species for the garden this year.

Elephant Hawkmoth - my favourite moth of the year

Shoulder-striped Wainscot

Light Emerald

Swallow-tailed Moth

I think the Elephant Hawkmoth, Swallow-tailed Moth and Light Emerald photos show how colourful some moths can be

I made more effort this year to start identifying micro moths especially those that have distinctive markings or are on the Garden Moth Scheme List.

This Lozotaeniodes formosanus was my favourite

Oops - please see photo further below!


Nesting in the Garden

Forgot to mention in the last post that a female blackbird was sitting on eggs in a nest in bamboo on 27th March and young were being fed by 7th April. By 18th April the nest was empty and we believe two young fledged. Sadly, one was predated by a magpie but the other was fed by the male blackbird for some weeks and was often seen on its own afterwards feeding. Mrs Blackbird started a new nest as soon as the first young had fledged.

On 28th March a male wren was first seen taking nest material into ivy which covers a wall on the patio. The female must have chosen this nest because from 12th May onwards she was seen taking food into the nest.

Blue tits started investigating the nest-box in the whitebeam tree (with camera) from the middle of Janaury. On 12th April nest material began to be taken into the box. The female started roosting in the nestbox from 19th April and feathers were added to the nest on 23rd. The first egg was laid on 25th April and a new egg was added each day up until the 30th April making a total of 6. On 1st May the female started incubating the eggs. On the 12th May the great spotted woodpecker began taking an interest in the nestbox and, although the entrance hole is protected by a metal plate, we added some wire to try and stop the woodpecker accessing the box. Four of the eggs hatched on 13th May but the remaining 2 eggs failed to do so. From the beginning the male blue tit did not seem to be bringing much food and by 20th May two of the young were much larger than the other two. Sadly on 25th May two of the youngsters died and the third the following day. Three days later the remaining chick also died. It was all very distressing - we were not sure if there was a real lack of food available or whether the adults (the male in particular) were just poor parents.

A few more first dates

2nd April - House sparrows taking nest material under eaves in the roof - the first fledglings seen on 4th May.
28th May - Robin fledglings being fed
31st May - First fledgling starlings and great tits

On 14th April a stock dove was seen feeding in the garden - a new garden tick and on 16th May I visited Shustoke Reservoir and saw a 1st summer Black-throated Diver (although it was a very very long way away! and many thanks to the kind gentleman who let me view the bird through his telescope) - not only a year tick but a Warwickshire tick and a lifer!


6h April produced the first garden Peacock of the year and 8th April brought the first Orange Tip to the garaden followed by the first garden Speckled Wood on the 10th. A Red Admiral was seen on 28th May. On 26th June I saw the first Large and Small White flutters in the garden. Overall, 2011 was a poor year for garden butterflies with several species normally seen, such as Painted Lady, Comma and Meadow Brown not seen at all. Small and Large Skippers and Wall Brown haven't visited for years. A visit to Brandon Marsh NR on 2nd June gave me my first Common Blue sightings of the year.

(Apologies my photos seem to have gone out of order!!! This is the micro Lozotaeniodes formosanus)

and Pale Tussock

and now back to butterflies!

Photos taken at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens on 12th April

Orange Tip

Female Orange Tip

Speckled Wood


A superb year for Common/Smooth newts in the garden pond - we saw up to 15.

A record shot of one in the murky pond water


I had lots of sightings of Tawny Mining Bees at the beginning of April and counted more than 30 nest mounds in just one area of the lawn on the 7th

and here's my favourite buff-tailed bumble bee photo

One of the highlights of my year is the opening for a few weekends in June of the Monkspath (Notcutts) Wildflower Meadow.

Heath Spotted Orchid

Devil's Bit Scabious

Great Burnet

Another highlight for me of the Spring is the fruit blossom - here seen in April at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

and other picture of the beautiful Snakeshead Fritillary

April 2011 was the warmest April on record. Although the first UK records began around 1900, the Central England Temperature Record goes back to 1659, and so this April was the warmest for over 350 years.

I had several target species for our Isle of Wight Holiday in June sadly, the weather was poor (very unusual for the IofW) and I failed to see barn owl, badger, Glanville Fritillary or an Adder. However, I did spot a red squirrel at Quarr Abbey - I won't repost the dreadful pic I took but here's a photo of a wooden red squirrel sculpture in Parkhurst Forest where I did spot White Admirals (my first sighting of this species for years)

and there were also Meadow Browns

Apologies for the long post! - Will try and keep the last two highlight posts to a more manageable length!


The Wessex Reiver said...

I've enjoyed reading your summary, a tour de-force of a single year blogging. Great read, and will look forward to more in 2012. All the best for Christmas.

Ragged Robin said...

Many thanks Andrew and best wishes for a very Happy Christmas to you too.

Ian said...

A wonderful review of your year's highlights and I have greatly enjoyed touring the gardens and mansions with you on the blog. All the very best for the season. Cheers.

Ragged Robin said...

Many thanks for your lovely comment Ian. I'm so glad you have enjoyed the blog this year. Hope you are having a lovely Christmas. All the best, Caroline