Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Changing seasons but still recording new garden species!...

Hello All,

I really can't believe that it was the end of February when I wrote my last post! The British seasons really are upside down with not only the wettest winter on record but now the coldest Spring on record also!

This Topsy-turvy weather is annoying for us gardeners but more importantly a matter of life and death for our visiting wildlife. There have been terrible stories in the news recently of birds that just haven't found enough food and have basically starved to death or just not had the necessary reserves to make not through the cold periods. This really does make all of our gardens a haven and in many cases a necessity for all types of wildlife. Locally badgers have struggled for food and on the frosty and freezing nights back in April we had a big badger that came into the garden every single night and literally spent hours picking through the seed that had been spilled by the birds from the feeders. I think the willingness to search for scraps showed how desperate things were for them. On the plus side it gave us great views of a badger close up and allowed for a bit of fun with an on-line live badger watch! you can check that out on my other blog here.. http://higgysnorthsomersetwildlifeadventures.blogspot.co.uk/

This Badger was so desperate for food that it raided my partially built raised bed for scraps from the seed bird feeders!

So what about the garden?...

Well I have to say that for the winter and most of Spring not a lot has been done! This has been a real pain with the ground generally sodden and unworkable! A positive was that this did give time to appreciate what is visiting on a regular basis to find food, much of this I showed you in my last post. With the weather a little more settled and warmer a few jobs have now begun and the garden is starting to once again look a little more 'managed' and inviting. So here's a quick run down on a few things that I have done over the last few weeks....

The bricks under the patio steps that led from the top patio to the lower 'rockery' level have been slowly disintegrating making them unsafe. To fix this meant ripping out the old steps and creating new ones. To try and blend this area into the fairly new rockery I decided that I would in fact extend the rockery feature to run the whole width of the garden and make this whole seating area a bit more attractive and inviting. Although out of popularity these days large rockeries can be great for wildlife with lots of hiding places for all manner of bugs, amphibians, reptiles and small mammals. This habitat will then encourage other predators to come and hunt for food, I have actually watched a Kestrel hovering over the rockery area obviously hunting out the wood mice that I know reside here, quite a special sight over your back garden!!

As you can see below I have taken away the concrete slab steps and integrated the steps into the extended rockery by using rocks and slate...  

The rockery was then extended to run to the other side of the steps also....

Not being totally happy with the outcome and to add extra interest for wildlife I then added a small wildlife pool that in time will be planted up to attract pond-life. This also makes for interest here as this is next to our main seating area....

This picture below is to just illustrate the rockery looking in the other direction, which has now at last been weeded and re-planted with pollinating perennial plants...

As this is our main seating area I have spent quite a lot of time recently getting it nice so that, in the hope of a good summer we can sit and enjoy the fantastic environment that is slowly evolving around us! Whilst the rockery adds interest I have also built a new raised bed with trellis on the other side of this seating area, this raised bed and trellis mirrors the one on the other side of the arch that I showed you in my last post and provides division and interest to the garden whilst adding protection from the wind also....

This new raised bed and trellis adds division as well as height and interest. It also provides protection from the wind to the seating area. Along with the rockery on the other side this has helped to create a feeling of being among the plants and becoming a real part of the garden!....

As my regular readers will know I now struggle with my back and hip injuries so I'm not able to spend as much time in the garden as I would like and have to be careful or more often than not ask for assistance with some of the heavier tasks! However this doesn't dampen my passion for the garden and it's wildlife and other small tasks have been completed recently such as tidying up the old sink that the birds love bathing in. I have basically used a few small rocks and soil to partially hide it and then added a few plants almost creating another mini wildlife pond I suppose....

I've included this to demonstrate that any space however big or small can have a wildlife friendly water feature!! The birds love bathing here.... 
This little chap dug it's way down into the soil minutes after completion of the above water feature!!.. 


So what about the wildlife?...

Well we have had a great start to the year with several new species recorded already! I'm really pleased about this as it does demonstrate that many of or resident creatures and bugs have successfully survived some horrendous weather conditions thanks to the work that we have done here in our small corner of North Somerset! Year on year our visiting species list increases which I find very rewarding! 

As always to save space and time here's a picture run down of the last few months in 'Higgy's Garden'...

Two of our newly installed bird boxes were/are being used by Bluetits!!...

Our dogs fur proved an extremely highly regarded bedding material!!....

22-Spot Ladybird is a brand new record here and one I'm really pleased with considering the number of Harlequin ladybirds that are about!!..

Another 'newbie' was this caddis fly....

 UNIDENTIFIED!!.... If you can help ID this bee please drop me a line or comment below....

 Snakes Head Frittilary, one of the first and prettiest flowering bulbs to make an appearance... 

 German Wasp - you can make your own mind up about these!!...

 Daisies and Forget-me-not's proved very valuable to all pollinators this year including Drone Flies like this one here on some Forget-me-not... 

 Rhingia Campestris - another 'Newbie' in the garden although quite common...

 Snipe Fly - again quite common but a new record in the garden...

Aliums are at last giving some much needed colour and a source of nectar for our insects!!....

Large Red Damselflies started putting in an appearance about two weeks ago and always signal the start of summer for me. They help me look forward to the wonderful Dragonflies that we are blessed with here on the North Somerset Levels...

Only our second record of this red beauty... Pyrochroa serraticornis....

 The Mint Moth is proving to be one of our most reliable moths here and is a pretty moth that needs to be enjoyed magnified like this due to it's small size.... 

 We get lots of spiders in the garden and this year has seen quite large numbers of wolf spiders with both common and meadow species recorded so far....

 Finally I'll leave you with yet another new record for the garden - 'Arge Pagana'

So that is about it for now, apologies that this post is such a long time after the last but I think you'll agree, there has been some really exciting things happening here! I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post and have found my new discoveries as thrilling as I have!? Although many species are common, creating a new record for the garden is an amazing thing and makes all the hard work so worth it!!

It's also great to get kids involved and my 5yr old daughter loves seeing the wildlife and all the bugs and creepy crawlies, I really can't urge you enough to have a go and see what you can attract into your own garden? At the same time you will be providing an education for your children that is unmatched and completely free! Maybe they may get hooked and become the next David Attenborough or Chris Packham!!...

As always thanks for reading and please do send me your comments...

Best Regard

Higgy :-)
  




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