Saturday, 29 April 2017

The under gardener


I have spent much of the past week or so in the garden so there hasn't been much opportunity to get out and take photos.  It's the sort of job that has to be done now otherwise I'll regret it later in the season.  I was assisted throughout by this fellow.  Every time he stopped singing I knew he'd spotted something tasty.  He helped me out by collecting all the caterpillars, etc that I'd missed.



One neat trick he showed me was how to pick up a millipede when you are already carrying a caterpillar.


It is a pity he's not quite so good at weeding.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

A fox in the bluebells


I have been experimenting with the trail camera in the garden in the past few nights.  The fox turns up every night but getting it to stand in exactly the right place with the right expression is tricky.  The colour contrast between the fox and the flowers is just right.











It is interesting that wherever I put the camera, the fox is almost always looking at or towards it.  It must be able to see or smell or hear it.  The badgers, on the other hand, don't take any notice of the camera (or the flash), and are just as often facing completely the wrong way.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Sextuplets


These six little balls of fluff are the first goslings of the season at Gosforth Park and they attracted a lot of interest from the other dozen or so greylags on the lake.


When I was watching the parents spent most of their time warding off the unwanted attentions of the other geese.  This is the father in his threat posture.


Eventually the parents decided to move off to the reedbeds for a bit of peace and quiet.





But they were followed by a flotilla of excited geese.

The last I saw of them they were heading for the other end of the lake.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Bee of the week - Melecta albifrons


Melecta albifrons is a cuckoo bee, a cleptoparasite of last week's Bee of the Week, Anthophora plumipes.  It is found in and around aggregations of nests of its host.  The female flies or walks around the nest holes, looking for an unprotected nest in which to lay her eggs.


The male and female Melecta albifrons are almost indistinguishable in the field.  This one is a male as it has 13 segments in its antennae (as opposed to 12 in a female).  I think it was also newly emerged as its wings weren't quite fully expanded.


Being a cuckoo, the female doesn't collect pollen and therefore has no scopa (pollen brush) on her hind legs.  All she does is drink nectar and lay eggs.

Most Melecta albifrons are black and white, as in the photos above, but a few are almost entirely black, as this one below.  Melecta albifrons is also known as the common mourning bee.

Melecta albifrons is found in the southern half of the UK.  These photos were all taken in Northamptonshire.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

More bad news


I got home the other day to find that a sparrowhawk had killed and eaten a woodpecker right outside the back door. The remains were pretty mangled (I've spared you the gory bits) so I couldn't even tell whether the victim was male or female.  I also don't know whether it was one of the pair trying to set up home in the garden.  There are several woodpeckers that visit the feeders every day and I can't tell which is which.

The other thing I've seen is that the second hole excavated by "my" woodpecker is now occupied  by a starling.  It is pretty hard to tell which bird is in which hole at the moment as things have mostly gone quiet, with the ownership battles having been settled, but it seems as though here isn't now a resident woodpecker here.

The first woodpecker hole was taken over by a pair of starlings but they also seem to have moved on.  It is now the property of a tree sparrow but I think he has left it too late.  I feel really sorry for him as he sits outside the hole calling for a mate all day.  He has ended up in possession of prime real estate but all the females are already spoken for.

At one stage he did entice a female in for a quick look around.


For whatever reason things didn't work out for them and he was back to calling all day.  He's still at it.

It is not all doom and gloom.  A blackcap and a chiffchaff have started singing in the garden in the past week and I have had several interesting visitors to the feeders.





Thursday, 20 April 2017

Doe, a deer, a female deer.

When I met this roe doe she didn't seem to know what to make of me.  I was standing still and she was perhaps puzzled by the clicking of the camera.  She kept turning round, as if to walk away, then turning back and taking a few steps forward.




At one stage a companion popped her head out as well but didn't stay long.

Eventually the doe decided I wasn't worth bothering with and sauntered off but even then she kept her eye on me. Looking at the times on the photos the whole thing lasted only three minutes.  Usually when I see roe deer they are a long way off or running away.  This encounter was enchanting.