My Whitley garden was burgled in September, leaving me with very little equipment with which to record wildlife. Fortunately, I still have one working camera which I move about the garden each week and, of course, I have my trusted Fuji camera permanently strapped to me!
It was warm and sunny for many days during October. The beginning of the month was very wet and the end of the month was very cold, and on 28 October we had the first frost of the winter.
The mild, sunny and damp conditions meant the garden was a hive of activity with ivy bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, frogs and all manner of bugs and insects enjoying the ripe rewards. When it was wet, I was astonished to see dozens of snails on the ivy hedge, attracted by the flowers. This was something I had not seen in previous years; slugs also came out of hibernation!
Despite all my reference books, I still have problems identifying moths. This does not stop me recording them though, as that is the most important part of my interest in garden wildlife.
During one of the sunny days I saw and photographed a male darter dragonfly; the most beautiful red dragonfly you will ever see. This coincided with netting dragonfly larvae from the pond during one of my pond-dipping moments. Normally, in October the larvae are hibernating at the bottom of the pond; this proved how mild it was. Frogs were also very active.
I photographed a red admiral butterfly on 9 and 28 October. This was unusual; although 9 October was warm and sunny, 28 October was cold, frosty but very sunny. So long as the sun is out the wildlife will be out to play!
A great tit took to roosting in a swift nest box and a mouse decided to visit the sparrow nest box each night. I put a few peanuts out each night for it.
November was also mostly mild and wet, broken by one very cold and frosty night on 29 November.
The two hedgehogs (Spike and Bubbles) ventured out on a few evenings for food. They did not travel far and were soon back in their respective homes. Bubbles, who still lives under bubble wrap in the shed, is not alone; a family of rats have moved in. I think they could be moving out soon!
I have stocked up on winter bird feed which the birds, who have started to return after the summer and autumn recess, are already enjoying. This feed includes fat balls, peanut butter, dried meal worms, sunflower hearts, niger seed, peanuts, monkey nuts and a special mix for ground feeding birds.
The male and female great spotted woodpeckers, a pair of jays and dozens of sparrows have returned to my Whitley garden. I was so pleased to see sparrows in large numbers again as they had been missing from the garden for some years. The great tit is still roosting in the swift nest box each night, and the mouse still turns up for its nightly feed of peanuts, so there’s lots going on still despite the colder winter days and nights.
The fox pair are also very active each night. We’re approaching fox mating season in the new year, so watch this space!
I will be back again in January 2020, but until then I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a good New Year.
Wildlife doesn’t go on holiday when we do, so keep your eyes open, look up, look down and there will be plenty of wildlife still to see!