Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Spotted Flycatcher

I'm catching up on a few weeks of manic busyness in which I've barely had time to get out and explore the early summer, let alone sit at my computer sorting through photographs. That being said, I have made it out for the odd hour here and there and was rewarded last weekend with my first spotted flycatcher of the year.

Bird-wise, things have been pretty quiet so I've turned my attention to searching for less flighty subjects. After my initial dismay, rigorous searching has turned up little pockets of flower diversity here and there. Poppies are obvious in nearly every field...

Cut-Leaved Cranesbill can be found along the field edges where the farm machinery has compacted the earth and suppressed the grass...

Common vetch is a big draw for bees, like this Carder Bee...

It seems nearly every bee and wasp has a harmless fly or moth that mimics it; this huge hoverfly (volucella bombylans) is trying to pass as a red-tailed bumblebee...

Other insects like this Tawny Longhorn beetle use bright colours to warn birds that they might not make a very tasty mouthful...

I checked my nest-boxes again in the riverine woods and the two blue tit nests had already emptied; it must have taken just a few weeks! Other fledglings were obvious in the wood too, I noted great spotted woodpeckers, great tits and wrens all being fed by their parents out of the nest.

The river runs clear if the rain doesn't fall for a few days and armed with my polarising glasses, I try and spot the species of fish. Chub and brown trout can be seen sitting in the current waiting for passing tidbits. Grayling are seemingly invisible, but give themselves away as they pluck insects from the surface with their tweezer lips. Shoals of small fry mingle with the minnows, bullhead, stone loach and stickleback in the shallows and I was pleased to find these tadpoles in among them.

To find tadpoles in the river is, while not uncommon, not expected. These must be the young of common toad as frogs will only spawn in still water. Unlike 'frogpoles', 'toadpoles' are distasteful to fish so they have many more options for places to string their eggs.

Nest-Boxes Part III

We've been lucky to have a pair of swifts use the roof-space for the last couple of years. Last year I counted that they successfully reared three young. The roof is prime real-estate and is also shared with countless house sparrows and a pair of starlings. To encourage more swifts to the house, I built a swift nest box in April using a design I stole from the internet.

The box can support two families of swifts and hopeful they would occupy this rather than my roof, I fixed the box as high as I could manage on the front of the house.

The fantastic news is that we have swifts nesting again in the house. The disappointing news is that they've snubbed my hard work and instead have opted again to use the roof!


  1. How contrary are the Swifts! But at least they're nesting that's the main thing!

  2. Haha, I know right?!

    All's not lost though, there are new birds checking out the house. I forgot how late swifts nest! Fingers crossed