The rain has continued this last couple of weeks, which has been good for the plants, as their roots will have been getting a good soaking. The small amount we had throughout April and early May barely penetrated the hard surface of the soil before evaporating, so these heavy downpours have been a blessing. The wildlife pond is looking very overgrown as a result, but the insects are enjoying it – especially the ladybirds and their larva, who are busy gorging themselves on the aphids covering the nettles. The teasel is really shooting up on the Jacob’s Wells side too, which will be good for the butterflies when it flowers and for the goldfinches when it goes to seed later in the year.
The damp conditions have also been good for the froglets and toadlets, who are beginning to emerge from the ponds, now that they have absorbed their tails and are ready to make for cover. These tiny amphibians often perish in the hot sun if it is dry, or end up as blackbird food, but the ponds at the top of Brandon Hill and the wildlife pond are surrounded by lots of suitably shady and covered areas to hide and stay cool – and with the added dampness of late, I have confidence that plenty of them will survive this year.
This particular little fellow is a toadlet. You can tell by the grumpy expression.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of damselflies this week – particularly on Tuesday, when the sun was out all day. The tower ponds were aswarm with azures, blue-tailed and large reds, with the clematis on the bank of the most easterly pond being a particularly good spot to see them at rest. It seemed to be a largely male affair, with only a few attempts at courtship coming from the azures, who were obviously more inspired by the romantic setting.
The changeable weather over the last couple of days has been unexpectedly good for butterfly watching. Although there has been a lot of hunkering down at the base of plants to avoid the wind and rain, when the sun has come out, they have quickly taken to basking to dry off and get a quick energy fix. In fact, I think today was the first time I have seen the meadow browns basking with their wings full open in the shrubbery skirting the meadow.
Today I had my first red admiral for a while too..
And the first ringlets I have seen at the hill in the small glades on the Jacob’s Wells side.
Only other things to report are that the dawn chorus and evensong have become noticeably quieter in the last week. The thrushes and robins have been particularly silent, but I suppose holding a territory is not quite as important now that their fledglings are a bit more confident and ranging a bit further.
Still no juvenile raptors, which I thought I might see on Tuesday stretching their wings for the first time in the light winds and sunshine. Any day now though.
Have been hoping to get a decent picture of the friendly robin near the tower.. Managed an ok shot, but was hoping to capture more of his character – but he is just too quick! Next time..