Sunday, 31 January 2010

Full moon and fieldfares

The clear sky last night revealed a super bright full moon and good views of Mars too. The blue sky that followed today may possibly have been the second since Christmas, and this meant I'd get a good chance with the Fieldfares still feasting on Apples, down at the bottom of the garden. Here's a few of the best so far. I've got the feeling that there's more than one bird calling-in and that they me be around for a little while longer yet, so I'm still hoping for better images to come.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Hibernating Red Lilly Beetles - (Not Cardinal beetles)

Post - update
Thanks to the eagle eyes of the Normanby nature blog, (my sis), the Shadoxhurst garden blog has reconsidered its view on this beetle and re classified it as the Red Lilly Beetle, apparently the No.1 garden enemy. Oh dear! In my defence, our specimens does seem to have a more rectangular profile than the Red lilly pics I've seen, but its the antenaee that appear to have a notched profile rather than a comb or toothed profile that confirms this is a Red lilly Beetle..(for now). Now back to the original post..

Since the cold spell over the Christmas period we've obviously had the central heating temperature raised-up to make life more comfortable for us, and it's not just us humans who've been feeling the benefit. Coinciding with this, we have been occasionally finding some dozy red Beetles strolling up and down curtains, book shelves and stairs. We've found half a dozen now and where exactly they're hibernating within (or under the house) we don't know!

Once found we place them under the bark of the Cedar tree in the garden in the hope they might return to hibernation for a few months more. From my knowledge, I don't recall seeing these during the summer months so its strange and rare to find them hibernating in the house.

We'd like to apologise to all Shadoxhurst gardeners for not destroying such a feared garden enemy. On the otherhand it is cold out there and I'm sure they've not survived.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Moth on the night of the big thaw

With blanket snow across the country, it may well have been the coldest winter for 2o years , but on the first night of the thaw in which temperatures jumped form 0 - to 6 degrees, I spotted this moth which I think is a Mottled Umber flying against the bed-room window. I'm sure it will survive (although judging by its sub due colours its natural life doesn't have far to go), our garden which had 10 cm of snow just two days ago is now clear.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Fieldfare - closer garden images

In our present extreme winter conditions, I'm sure many people have a 'bully' Fieldfare dominating their snow covered garden and garden birds. Tolerating no other bird in our garden, the invading Fieldfare is unwilling to share food and territory to our smaller resident thrushes such as Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Robins and also other ransacking Fieldfares. Characteristically, our bird loudly scolds all other birds away, and steadfastly perches over our bird food offerings - in particular Apples!

Still I'm thrilled to have a Fieldfare taking up residence in our Shadoxhurst garden. They're a large and handsome thrush, dressed in a patchwork plumage of greys, buffs and browns. They have a lovely buff brow above the eye a spotted chest, a grey cap and rump and a pure white belly - just beautiful!

When I took these pictures, it was 3 'o' clock dark and overcast with sleet falling. Walking down the garden, to my hide (0ld shed), it was difficult to see if our Fieldfare was even present - not ideal photographic conditions. However, using a mono-pod underneath the camera, and sheltered and hidden in the hide, I managed to get these closer images of our Scandinavian friend. With no sunshine forecast this week, these maybe the best images I get of our temporary and boisterous visitor before the thaw in the countryside begins.

The view down the garden at the time of these pictures. The Fieldfares visit the Blackthorn down at the back

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Fieldfare on Dog Rose

Heavy snow continues. The road's blocked the kids can't get to school - normal life has ground to a halt!
I've taken the opportunity to try and get some nice winter images of some of our scarcer winter visitors starting with the a Scandinavian visiting Fieldfare. We've placed sliced apples in the Blackthorn in the hope of bringing in a hungry flock, and if by magic, we now have one bird taking up temporary residence in the garden. Photographing from the old shed at the bottom of the garden, the bird is vary wary and hard to get close to. Whilst it prefers the Apple slices, it's also partial to the Rose Hips, which allows me to get a completely natural picture too. I would imagine it's going to be around for a while so perhaps there's better pictures to come.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

January freeze finally hits Kent

England is officially gripped by the coldest weather spell in 25 years. Here's a few pictures taken in the garden today just for the record. Admittedly, we only have a fraction of the snow thats shut down most of the country in the last few days. Pictured above is our deeply frozen garden pond with about an inch of snow surrounding it. Picture taken at sunset today.

Redwings always shy and difficult to approach are entering gardens now. This one is rummaging underneath the Blackthorn bushes where the snow can't lay (yet!).

Blue Tits have taken an interest in the apple slices put out for the Thrushes

The 3 Red-legged Partridges remain close to the garden for much of the day feeding on corn I've put out for the Yellowhammers (below).