"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

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Mini Autumn Garden Bioblitz (Staying local at the moment!)

Apologies for lack of blog posts recently. We have been without a car for several weeks - there are times I regret the decision to get rid of two cars and replace them with one! I won't go into detail as this is a public blog (just in case the culprit is caught and goes to court)but, as a few of you already know, I was carjacked and robbed of the car. It was rather a terrifying experience but thankfully I was unharmed. The car hasn't been recovered and we are still waiting for the insurance company to settle the claim but hopefully will have the car replaced this week so I shall be able to get out and about again.

Amanda from "The Quiet Walker" suggested that I do an autumn garden bioblitz which I did a week or so back. I must admit I didn't put anywhere near the effort into it as I do the Spring one! (it was too cold) but here are the results.

Birds - did better here than in the Spring one!

Blue Tit
House Sparrow
Great Tit,
Coal Tit
Wood Pigeon
Long-tailed Tit
Stock Dove
Carrion Crow

There was a warbler around but it remained unidentified as it flew off as soon as I had found the binoculars!


Grey Squirrel

Plants (self-seeded) - I decided just to count the flowers/trees/shrubs that were actually still in flower or had a few leaves or berries. It is always difficult in our garden as we have planted so many native trees and shrubs and wild flowers over the years so I only ever count what has self-seeded naturally.


Wall Speedwell (not sure if I should really count this one because you have to look closely to spot any leaves!)


Yellow Corydalis


Ragwort - still just about flowering in the "No Mow Zone" which really should have been cut down by now!


White Clover
Common Whitebeam

I am having a "senior moment" over this species - does anyone know if it is Ground Ivy??

Various mosses - still to be identified

Hart's Tongue Fern

Unsurprisingly, there were very few invertebrates about. I did see a few Common Rough Woodlice when I lifted up a pot and I found this Banded Snail snuggled in among the leaves.

I am sure if I had spent a little more time I may have found a few more wild flowers hanging on in nooks and crevices but it was an interesting experiment and one I may well repeat so thanks to Amanda for the idea.

Other Garden "News"

There are many reports of Waxwing sightings coming in from Scotland, the North and East of England so I'm hoping we may be set for a "Waxwing Winter". Sadly, Blackbirds have eaten almost all the garden Rowan, Pyracantha and Whitebeam berries, so I have put half a dozen or more apples on sticks around the garden on the off chance eventually Waxwings may arrive! Sadly, I had forgotten that Grey Squirrels are partial to apples too so am having to replace them rather too regularly!

B has cut the wildflower area and had another go at "weeding out" the couch grass so he could sow more yellow rattle. It will be interesting to see what happens next year. Sadly, he has also given the wooded area behind it's yearly haircut - he is rather over zealous! The pile of twigs has been there for some years for invertebrates and hedgehogs.

In flower - Winter Jasmine, self-seeded Lobelia, Sweet Pea and Nasturtium. We still also have a few Cosmos flowers scattered about.

We always leave seedheads on perennials until the Spring to provide food for birds and overwintering sites for insects. This was one of the Honesty plants where Orange Tip caterpillars were feeding and I live in hope there are pupae somewhere around although I am yet to find any.

Feathers remaining from a Sparrowhawk strike on a Wood Pigeon. Below are a few records shots taken with the Canon Bridge Camera through the kitchen window. The Sparrowhawk returned over the course of several days to finish it's meal. Warning the photos are a bit gory so you may prefer not to scroll any further down!


amanda peters said...

So pleased you managed to do this (still haven't due to all the rain we have had) as you still have quite a few flowers holding on.
Looking at your bird list I see you have had Stock Dove, not recorded one in my garden. Goldcrest has visited in the past, but out and about I have seen many this year.
All my apples have gone to the Starlings and the dog ! will put some more out this weekend. Missed out on the Waxwings at Ilkley :( fingers crossed they will still turn up here.
Glad you might be getting a car soon and you can get out a bit more.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much Amanda - it was a really good idea of yours. To be honest had to make myself do it but once I had spent an hour or so in the fresh air I felt much better :)
Stock Dove is easily overlooked - I only recorded my first a few years ago but I suspect at a quick glance I was writing them off sometimes as Wood or Feral Pigeons! Lucky with the Goldcrest as I don't see that many - just shows what increased observation of the garden turns up :)
Sorry to hear you missed out on Waxwings. Looking at Waxwings UK on Twitter there still to be some in Yorkshire so hopefully you will see some. I don't think many have reached as far South as us yet. Hoping they will wait until I am mobile again!!!
Car should be within day or two. Have been to Dealer and picked same make and model but didn't have any choice over the colour! I really liked the metallic deep blue we had initially but there again not sure I could have coped with same colour!
Thanks for your support again - much appreciated :)

Rosie said...

Oh, goodness I had no idea that something so awful had happened to you. I had missed your posts but thought that you may have been on holiday. I do hope that you are getting over such a dreadful experience and thank heavens you were unharmed. It must have been difficult to set your mind to anything but you have made a wonderful list of all your garden visitors and residents. We have had similar birds in our garden but no crows or stock dove. We had a bullfinch visit a few days ago, they always seem to come to the feeders when the weather gets colder. Such a good idea to put the apples on sticks to try to encourage Waxwings, I'd love to see one, they have been spotted in Cheadle, Staffs not too far away from us. Take care:)

Stewart said...

Hi Caroline, I missed that you were car jacked!! I hope you are ok that must have been a dreadful experience. Its not something I've really heard of? Never know it up here, but now that cars are so hard to steal thats how the low life will get them I suppose. You should have run him over...

Best wishes, Stewart.

Pete Duxon said...

as you say stock dove is easily overlooked...... ! well done on sprawk

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

ragwort and corydalis struggling on here too! Plus rape like flowers on the fringes of the rape fields at the South edge of town

John Wooldridge said...

Lovely post n picks m'dear....sparrowhawk ones are stunning

hart said...

Sorry about your carjacking, sounds awful. Hope you get your replacement soon.

Margaret Adamson said...

I didn't know about your car hijacking but I'm glad that you're going to get the car sorted out this week. It was nice to see all the things that are in your garden.both plants and animals. I haven't heard of any waxwings coming over yet to Northern Ireland and we certainly didn't see any last year so here's hoping that this is a better year for the both plants and animals. I haven't heard of any waxwings coming over yet to Northern Ireland and we certainly didn't see any last year so here's hoping that this is a better year for m

John Scurr said...

I hesitate to offer my poor identification skills, but I think the pink flower isn't Ground Ivy but Red Dead-Nettle.
I have a lot of Various Moss in my garden, but it won't be getting any further identifiation than that.
I am sorry to hear that you are without a car, and in such circumstances as well. It's only when we don't have a car, or can't drive, that we realsie how much we need one.

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much for your kind words. I only mentioned the incident in a comment on my last post which most would have missed. Feel a lot better now thank you - the important thing is I wasn't hurt. It must be great to have bullfinches on the feeders. We get visits once or twice a year usually they come for berries but have never seen them at the feeding station. Hope you get to see some Waxwings (have seen a few reports from Staffs too). Just check out any trees you pass with berries :)

Stewart - thanks very much and lol! :) I haven't mentioned it on twitter and only previously on the blog on a comment to someone in last post so not many people would have known. Hope you are still seeing plenty of Waxwings :) Oh to live in an area with low crime rates!

Pete Duxon - Many thanks Pete and for your dm! My dslr even with 70-300 lens wouldn't have managed a record shot like that!

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks Simon - good to hear a few species are still flowering where you are too :)

John Wooldridge - Thanks so much John. Wish you all the best in your new venture :)

Hart - Thanks so much for the comment and good wishes :)

Margaret Adamson - Thanks very much Margaret. You would have missed the previous mention because I only mentioned it in passing in a comment on my last post. The last few years have been poor for Waxwings I believe but looks as though this one is going to be much better :) So do hope we both see them :)

John Scurr - Thanks so much John. Will be mobile again very soon - I have missed my countryside trips! It takes being without one to make you appreciate it!

I got one id on one of the mosses once on i-spot - Rough -stalked feather moss from memory or something similar! but can't remember which one it was. I have a few booklets on id with keys etc but, as with lichens, I find them very difficult to get to species level!

Thanks for id help on flower. I did wonder about Red Dead-Nettle so I am sure you are right. I will go outside with a few id books and compare :)

Wendy said...

I have really enjoyed reading about your garden bioblitz but I'm very sorry to hear about the carjacking. I'm so glad you're OK after such a dreadful experience.
The goldcrest is a lovely sighting. I've never seen a goldcrest in the garden although I'm sure they must visit as they're in the local lanes. And I'm still missing house sparrows here.
I'd so love to see waxwings this winter. It hope it's not another year where I read that everyone seems to have seen one and I haven't! I didn't know that apples on sticks would work for them. I haven't many apples left thanks to the sheep and blackbirds (and probably grey squirrels) but I will get some to put out, not only to tempt any waxwings but also for the redwings and fieldfares.

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Thanks so much for your kind thoughts.
We do get Goldcrest from time to time - hard winters they will even feed on fatballs but they are so tiny they are easily missed if they are foraging in bushes. House Sparrow numbers are much lower than they used to be and we rarely get Starlings these days :(
Last time we had a Waxwing Winter I was one of the last to see them!! So hope we both get to see some this time round. I heard about the apples on sticks idea from someone in the Shetlands (I think it was Fair Isle) who did the same thing and got them to visit. I think there is a you-tube video of a lad with waxwings more or less hand feeding! I thought the same if I don't get Waxwings (which is probably very unlikely!) then Redwings/Fieldfares which we do get will enjoy them as will the Blackbirds :)

Ian said...

Sorry to hear about your distressing carjacking episode and good to see you back on line.
Enjoyed the autumn stroll through your garden and very impressed with the Sparrow Hawk photos :)

Ragged Robin said...

Ian - Thanks so much Ian for your kind words.
Photos may have been a bit better if the kitchen window didn't need a clean :)

Pam said...

Oh gosh poor you, what a horrible thing to have happened, I'm so glad you were unharmed and I really hope they catch whoever did it xx

Great idea for the bioblitz, a good distraction and there's still so much going on, i'm keeping my fingers crossed for you on the Waxwings, there have been some seen around Leeds but not near me as yet!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks so much Pam for your kind thoughts and words.

Yes, the bioblitz did take my mind of it all. Good Luck with your Waxwings too seem more in Yorkshire than round here. Have only seen report of one sighting Warks so far!

Do hope you are recovering well and slowly being able to do a little more each day.

Pam said...

Yes Yorkshire seems to be having a good Waxwing year so far! I am thank you (slowly being the word!) :)

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Still waiting for them to arrive down here - hopefully, en masse!! Pleased to here you are recovering slowly - do hope you have plenty of books to read. It must be very frustrating for you.

Toffeeapple said...

I am shocked and horrified at your car-jacking, you must have felt awful! I do hope it won't put you off driving when you get your new car.


Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - thanks so very much for your kind thoughts and words. To be honest if the old car had been recovered I really don't think I could have got it in ever again :( The new car is same make and model but a different colour!! I felt a bit wobbly when I first got behind the steering wheel but am fine now. Whenever I drive or just sit in car on my own the first thing I do now is lock myself in!! Thanks again.