Monthly Archives: Jul 2016

Wildflowers on the allotment

On my allotment, I’m allowed to use up to 25% of the space for flowering plants. I’ve not got anywhere near that much space devoted to non-edible flowers, but I do have a small flower section to entice the pollinating insects.

As well as the lavender plants, there’s a fennel and some mint growing near the compost bin – mainly to give a fresher aroma when you lift the lid from the bin! Two years ago, I sowed some wild flower seeds in amongst the other flowers,  and this year I’ve ended up with a fantastic meadow-like look to my floral area.

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 51 - Mini Meadow

Despite the heat on the day I took these photos, there were plenty of flies, bees and butterflies about, all gathering up nectar from the plants.Dragon Goes Wild - Day 51 - Mini Meadow

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 51 - Mini Meadow

The lavender plants have quite woody stems, but with the way everything else has grown around them, you wouldn’t know they were woody.

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 51 - Mini Meadow
I think this was possibly a plant I put in a few years ago  but this year it really seems to have taken off and grown like crazy!


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Aerobatics

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 49 - Buzzard

When I spotted the two birds circling exceptionally high in the sky, I first thought it was two Buzzards, but the one on the bottom right of the photo doesn’t look all that Buzzard-like in this photo.

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 49 - Buzzard

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 49 - Buzzard

I thought maybe the Buzzard was trying to catch something mid-flight, but I’m wondering now if it was training a young Buzzard how to catch prey, and had just dropped something for the other bird….

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 49 - Buzzard

If only they’d flown a little lower, I could’ve got a clearer set of photos!


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Young Birds

I only had my camera to hand because the blackbirds were heading for berries, but it’s a good job I did, as these small birds suddenly arrived in the garden. They landed on the washing line and started trying to drink the drops of water that’d formed on the line overnight. I was surprised they hadn’t headed for the bird bath until I realised it was bone dry – either the water had evaporated since the previous evening, or something had drunk the remaining water overnight!

These were obviously young birds – they hadn’t quite got the hang of perching on a plastic washing line, so there was a lot of wing flapping to try and keep their balance.

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 48 - Young Chiffchaff

But what type of bird are they? They’re clearly not blackbirds, and their tails aren’t held upright like a wren’s. Young robins would look more speckled, and blue tits would be a very washed out shade of blue.

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 48 - Young Chiffchaff

It turns out that these are young Chiffchaffs – the young don’t appear in my bird book, nor is there a picture on the RSPB website of the youngsters, which is a shame as they don’t look quite like the adults at this stage!

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 48 - Young Chiffchaff


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Chiffchaffs (RSPB)

Sycamore Moth

This moth was actually spotted a couple of days ago, but it’s taken me this long to be able to identify it!  Credit for spotting it actually goes to a family member who saw past the amazing camouflage as they walked past the moth on the wall.

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 47 - Sycamore Moth

After a lot of research, I’m pretty sure this is a Sycamore Moth – it’s most commonly seen in South Eastern England, although it has been spotted in the South West as well. If the moth can blend in this well on a stone wall, I can only imagine how well it could camouflage itself on a Sycamore tree trunk!

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 47 - Sycamore Moth


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Sycamore Moth – UK Moths

Brown Blackcap

Unlike the black ‘cap’ of the male Blackcap, the female actually has a brown cap, which makes it pretty easy to tell them apart. According to the RSPB, they eat berries and insects – this particular bird seemed to be trying to catch some flies on the wing, before heading over to the Berberis bush.

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 46 - Female Blackcap

I’m not sure the blackbird would be too eager to share the Berberis berries, but this little blackcap made sure she staked her claim on the garden – when she spotted us standing in the garden, she started shouting until we went back indoors!


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Soggy Robin

It’s not just the blackbird that likes to have an enthusiastic wash in the bird bath – the robin is equally keen, although it does prefer to have a wash while it’s raining!

I didn’t spot the robin in the bath, but he flew into the Quince to dry off…. judging by how wet he looks, I think it’ll take quite a while for his feathers to dry off! I’m not sure if it’s a younger robin, or it’s just where the feathers are so soggy, but the feathers on his front have quite a lot of white on them, which I can’t say I’ve noticed on a dry robin before.

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 45 - Soggy Robin


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Punkrocker Blackbird?

Ok, so that’s a bit of a strange title for a blog post, but you’ll see what I mean when you get as far as the photos. The blackbirds have decided to take up residence in the garden – whether they’re sitting in the ornamental Quince tree, taking a bath, or eating yet more of the Berberis berries, there’s not many moments in the day when there isn’t at least one blackbird in the garden.

The bird bath is proving almost as popular as the berries right now, with one particular bird taking multiple baths in a day (that one has a slightly lighter patch of feathers on his back, so he’s easier to tell apart from the others). Today however, one of the other blackbirds decided it wanted to have a nice wash – the water had just been topped up, so there was plenty of opportunity to splash it all over.

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 44 - Bathing Blackbird

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 44 - Bathing Blackbird

And there’s the punk rocker! I’ve seen birds taking a bath in the garden before, but haven’t ever seen them get quite so wet! Rather than flying into the relative safety of the Quince to dry off like the other birds do, this one decided that the lure of the berries was too great, and flew into the Berberis for a quick snack while it dried off!


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Another day, another moth!

I don’t know what the appeal is for a moth to sit in a plant pot or plant tray during daylight hours, but they seem to be popular! Thankfully it was better light than the previous occasion, so I could get a nice clear photo.

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 43 - Large Yellow Underwing
Dragon Goes Wild - Day 43 - Large Yellow Underwing
It’s possible that this is the same moth (or at least one of the same type) as we found in the plant pot, but with the clearer photos, I can at least try and identify this one. Looking at several different moth ID sites, I’m pretty sure this is a Large Yellow Underwing.

They are truly nocturnal moths, so that might explain why it wanted to shelter in a plant tray during the day. Apparently both the Yellow and the Red Underwing moths flash their brightly coloured underwings when disturbed, to try and surprise any birds that might attack them. This particular moth seemed happy to just sit and pose for a while, but when it did fly off it moved so quickly we had no chance of seeing what colour the wings were!

 


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Woody Woodpecker

Green Woodpeckers have the strangest call of all the birds I’ve heard around here – the RSPB has a really clear audio of that call on their site. Once we heard the Woodpecker, it was clear that it was sitting in the trees…. perfectly hidden from view!

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 42 - Woodpecker

Even zooming in on this photo, I can’t spot the branch it was sitting on

As luck would have it, the Green Woodpecker eventually flew from the tree – right over our heads! It’s certainly not a laid back flyer, but I noticed it seems to tuck the wings in after a few flaps, which I guess is for a more streamlined flight. It does give the bird a strange profile if you catch sight of it like that!

Dragon Goes Wild - Day 42 - Woodpecker

No sooner had it flown overhead, it changed direction, veering off to the right – I was able to get another photo just before it was obscured by houses. Dragon Goes Wild - Day 42 - Woodpecker

I know that some woodpeckers eat ants, but I was surprised to discover that Green Woodpeckers only eat ants – they must have to eat thousands to keep their energy levels up, given the size of the bird!


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