Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Catch Up

2016 has been almost as quiet as previous years. In Spring I thought there were signs of an upswing in the numbers of garden birds, but that hasn't been sustained.

My neighbour a couple of doors up reports the same. Despite the proximity of our gardens, the wildlife population differs: for example, I get a lot of jackdaws while he sees none; he gets goldfinches, I almost never do.

Even our usually reliable dunnock population is conspicuous by its absence. I'd like to blame the increasing number of cats in the neighbourhood, but I haven't seen much evidence of dead birds.

On the foxy superhighway
I've seen a single chaffinch in the garden this year (one more than I saw in the previous two years) but mostly it has been blackbirds, blue, great, coal and long-tailed tits and the occasional sparrow. I can hear starlings, but haven't seen many. There was a goldfinch on a TV aerial and three overflying, and 3 rooks a couple of weeks ago (to add to the garden corvid list of raven, carrion crown magpie and jackdaw). The buzzards have been around, but sporadically rather than a constant presence.

About the finches; I've commented here before about the catastrophic loss of greenfinches and chaffinches in the garden since the hard winter of 2010. Melissa Harrison mentioned something I hadn't known about:

Opening food waste bins

For other fauna: foxes are a constant and regular. Our backdoor security light was triggered a few nights ago when a badger took a short-cut, and badgers have been active in the street on bin nights. One of them seems to have developed a technique of pushing recycling bins around our neighbours driveway until the catch springs open.

We still have frogs coming through, though I have no idea where they spawn. Yesterday there were two dead frogs, one on the decking, one on the lawn. Both were adult and looked to have been in healthy condition. The were no marks on one of the bodies, but the other had clearly been killed quite recently by a bite to the throat. As there were no signs of anything snacking, my guess is it was a cat that did the deed.

Finally, the Katy and Cox's Orange Red apple trees continue to thrive (last year the weight of apples was almost too much for the young branches). The greengage and plum trees that went in last year both died and have been replaced--the replacements are doing very well. The damsons in the front garden are establishing themselves and are clearly fruiting. Leaf-curl aphids did some damage but that is more of an unsightliness issue I think, and it looks good for future years. Mind you, last year, something was eating fruits in the night straight off the branches, leaving the stones behind: probably a fox, maybe a squirrel.