As mentioned in previous posts we are fortunate again this year that a pair of Blue Tits has chosen the nestbox with a camera installed. The first egg was laid on 14th April and she continued to lay an egg a day. Here ten on the 23rd April
and eleven here on the 24th April which proved to be the final total. This is the highest number of eggs laid since we had the nestbox camera 4 years ago. Although the female roosts in the nest box whilst laying she does not begin incubating until the clutch is more or less complete. She began incubation on 24th April. The chicks usually hatch after 13 - 15 days so hopefully we shall have a "happy event" around the 7th May or just after :)
A view of the nestbox situated in a Whitebeam tree. Notice the metal plaque round the entrance hole - the first year we installed the nestbox we had problems with a Great Spotted Woodpecker trying to break its way through the hole to eat the young. On that occasion the situation became so dire that we had to put chicken wire completely round the nestbox with holes big enough to allow the Blue Tits access but not the woodpecker. Luckily that year this worked and, after many nailbiting moments, the young fledged successfully.
Moth numbers are low at the moment and due to overnight rain (and lack of moths!) I haven't been trapping so much recently. All trapping sessions with a 15w Actinic Skinner Trap
Saturday 12 April
Min Temp 5.5
Oak Beauty x 1 (Biston strataria)
Thursday 17 April
Min Temp 1.9
Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) x 1
Friday 18th April GMS week 8
Min Temp Minus 0.3!
Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) x 1
Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) x2
Thursday 24th April GMS Week 9
Min Temp 7.0
Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) x 1 New for Year
Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis) x 1 New for Year
Wildflowers in the Garden
Plants are growing well in the wildflower "meadow" in the garden although this year unfortunately the couch grass problem seems to have worsened :(
Red Campion is starting to flower in some areas - some plants are far ahead of others!
Cowslips and Bluebells
D bought me a tin of wildflower seedballs (the Butterfly Mix) for Mother's Day. It really is a clever idea each seedball is a mini ecosystem comprising wildflower seeds, chilli and clay (to keep off predators) and peat free compost and all you have to do is scatter the clay seedballs where you want the plants to grow. All seed is responsibly sourced from within the UK
I've decided to grow mine in troughs on the patio and there are still a few seedballs left to scatter round the garden. The Bees Welcome sign was a present from my daughter. I've placed it here temporarily but will probably put it up in the widlflower "meadow".
For more information please visit www.seedball.co.uk
I'm rather pleased (to put it mildly) that we have caterpillars in the garden nettle patch. The larvae have constructed tents by pulling the edges of the nettle leaves together with silk. I am pretty sure they are Red Admiral caterpillars although occasionally Small Tortoiseshell also construct a larval tent from the leaves. The caterpillars are tiny at the moment and only emerge their heads in the evening to feed so I should be able to confirm the species when they are a bit bigger.
I haven't raised caterpillars since the children were little so am looking forward to rearing them this year. I managed to get hold of a large sweet jar from a local olde worlde sweet shop which seems ideal.
Honesty has spread itself all around the garden - the flowers are popular with bees and butterflies and I dry the papery seed cases to use in dried flower arrangements.
Marsh Marigold is flowering in the bog garden by the pond. I think I may have mentioned this before but the flowers have some wonderful country names - Kingcups, Golden Knobs, Water Goggles, May Bubbles, Bull's-Eyes and John Georges
The rockery behind the pond is looking more colourful by the day.
Bleeding Heart or Dutchman's Breeches!
We planted lots of Colombines in the front garden last year but they failed to flower so I assume they are biennial as this year they are full of flowers. The name Colombine comes from the flowers reminding people of a flight of doves and comes from the Latin "Columba". The genus name is Aquilegia from the Latin word for Eagle because the base of the flower resembles an eagle's claw. The country name for these flowers is Granny's Bonnet which is the name I prefer. At a certain stage of flower development they really do resemble an old lady's bonnet.