21 Apr 2020

21 Apr 20 - Checking The Whites #BWKM0

My notes for 21 Apr produced a good selection of species for my Birding & wildlife database. Given the list of sightings, I must have had a few work conference calls in the morning. I can get on & work in the background on some calls & try to keep listening enough to stay in touch with the conversation, in case it's something that is more important to me or my area of responsibility. However, on other calls I need to pay a lot more careful attention to the discussion. When I can't multi-task on the laptop & if nobody is presenting on the screen on these more important calls, I can allow my eyes to wander to what's happening outside of my window. It's either that or watch my colleague's photos on the screen. Fortunately, I can cope with staying focused on the call, while watching something flyby. Not all the time & that's when I end up having to throw something interesting away. This has included at least two probable lockdown Ticks: Yellowhammer & Tree Pipit. I can accept that I won't identify everything and work obviously has to remain the priority.
Green-veined White: Westbere (3 July 14)
This time, I did get a good view with the bins of the highlight of the day: a Green-veined White which was seen from the study during another work conference call. This is a species that took me over a decade to add it to the garden list. In the last decade or so, it is still only my fifth garden record. I think it is a combination of not spending enough time looking at the Whites in the garden, apart from the Orange-tips, coupled with it being a scarce visitor. I am looking at the Whites more this year with the lockdown. Many are flying through my garden & not stopping. So, clearly there is still a reasonable chance I'm overlooking them, but I've not seen any Green-veined Whites during the lockdown. It's still only at the start of their flying period for this brood, so perhaps I will see one or two others in the next few weeks.
Green-veined White: Old Harry (24 May 15)

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at #BWKM0.

19 Apr 2020

19 Apr 20 - Little Brown Job #BWKM0

There were quite a few wildlife highlights from a short look in the garden with the camera at lunchtime. The Bird highlight was my seventh migrant Red Kite from the lockdown which I enjoyed. However, the local Herring Gulls were less impressed, judging by their heckling.
Red Kite: Number 7 for the year which isn't bad considering I've only seen one a year, apart from a couple in 2019. It was circling over the garden before drifting off East over Swanage
There was a good selection of other garden species that have cropped up in recent posts, including both species of Newts, Roe Deer, a few Butterflies & a variety of Bees. But the wildlife highlight of day was the first of the next generation of Dark Bush Crickets for the year. Dark Bush Crickets are probably my commonest species of Orthoptera in the garden. In many gardens, it would perhaps be one of the Grasshopper species. However, Grasshoppers are scarce in my garden, given nearly all has been converted to flower beds, apart from the two ponds & bog garden.
Dark Bush Cricket: The nymph bodies are only about three or four mm long at this time of year
Dark Bush Cricket: A larger nymph, with some of my small pea gravel for a size comparison (21 Jun 10)
Dark Bush Cricket: Male. Photographed in the garden (5 Aug 10)
Dark Bush Cricket: Female. They get to be around an inch long body when fully grown. Alner's Gorse (4 Aug 13)

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at #BWKM0.

18 Apr 2020

18 Apr 20 - My Large Spring Visitors #BWKM0

One of the first things I did with the garden after I bought my house, was to dig a nice large pond. The previous owners had a wendy house for their kids. Fortunately, they were removing the wendy house as I was moving in, which saved me the hassle to get rid of it. This left me with a big patch of bare ground & a lot of long rank grass. A nice large pond was the best way to start sorting that mess out. I refused to put the obligatory Goldfish or Carp in, as it was planned to be a wildlife pond. I expected the Frogs to find it & start breeding. Frustratingly, while there are often one or two Frogs in the pond, they have never bred. After a few years, the Smooth Newts found the pond and are generally visible, especially at night. I was very excited at the end of May 13, when I checked the pond & found my first Great-crested Newt. Numbers at this time of year are always tricky to count, as they generally are only visible after dark & are fairly shy. A few nights each Spring, I pop out with a torch after dark to count the Great-crested Newts. The peak count has been five in May 14 and two so far this year: but it's still early.
Great-crested Newt: Male (31 May 13)
Great-crested Newt: Male (18 Apr 14)
Great-crested Newt: Female (18 Apr 14)
Great-crested Newt: Female (9 May 15)
Like many kids of my generation, I got into wildlife by looking at Frogs, Tadpoles & whatever we could in some of the local streams in school holidays. This was several years before I started birdwatching. My interest in pond life have never left me & it's a real privilege been adopted by the local Great-crested Newts. I found out soon after I moved down to Dorset, that all three Newt species occur locally. I've got two species & I keep checked each year in the hope that a Palmate Newt or two will appear. That would be fantastic, but I'm not complaining with what I have.

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at #BWKM0.

16 Apr 2020

16 Apr 20 - One Of My Favourite UK Butterflies #BWKM0

I saw my first Orange-tip flying in the garden on 12 Apr & I've been seeing one or two daily since them. While many Butterfly fans get excited by Purple Emperors or some of the scarcer Butterflies, I personally prefer Orange-tips. It's even better when one of your favourite species is a garden resident. This was the wildlife highlight of the day.
Orange-tip: Male (4 May 15)
Orange-tip: Female (19 May 19)

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at #BWKM0.

15 Apr 2020

15 Apr 20 - My Little Residents #BWKM0

One of my occasional & very pleasurable activities at this time of the year is to check what's going on after dark in my big pond. My little residents are the Smooth Newts in the pond. It is a real treat to have good numbers in the pond & I will never tire of watching them: albeit I only look quickly to avoid disturbing them. One or two are often visible during the day & it's easier to watch them in the daytime. The numbers that are visible vary night to night, but my peak on 12 on 8 Apr 20, is close to be best single night count of 14. However, in late Summer 2011, I had to drain the pond to replace the liner & caught 22 over a couple of days: they were safely transferred to my small front garden pond.
Smooth Newt: Male. This individual has a wavy crest along the length of the body & tail. Males only develop this during the breeding season, so sexing individuals without this crest isn't easy (20 Jun 10)
Smooth Newt: Male. (18 Apr 14)

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at #BWKM0.

14 Apr 2020

14 Apr 20 - Bumblebees In The Garden #BWKM0

I've been writing the recent Blog Posts since the lockdown based up the wildlife highlight of the day. Today's wildlife highlight was in the five or ten minutes I had at lunchtime to see what I can find in the garden. I saw three different species of Bumblebees in that time feeding on my extensive patch of Bluebells. The only lockdown species that was missing, was the erratically visiting & relatively scarce Tree Bumblebee.
Buff-tailed Bumblebee: Old Harry (4 May 15)
Large Red-tailed Bumblebee: Photographed in the garden on some of my white Red Valerian (22 Jun 10)
I've been trying to get my head around the identification of Bumblebees in the last few years. This has been a lot easier with the excellent Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland by Steven Falk & Richard Lewington. As a result, I have identified a number of my commoner resident Bumblebees in my garden. With the current lockdown, I've been able to spend more time looking at the Bumblebees in the garden this year. Currently, the lockdown list is on four species.
Tree Bumblebee: My only record so far this year has been one on 2 Apr 20. This individual was photographed at Goring-on-Thames, when I failed to find any Club-tailed Dragonflies (13 Jun 14)
Common Carder Bee: Doing its best to pollinate one of my Bluebells (10 Apr 20)
Common Carder Bee: Another individual (10 Apr 20)
I've also seen Garden Bumblebee, Early Bumblebee & White-tailed Bumblebee in the garden in previous years, but I've not seen any of these species yet this year. I generally only have a few minutes at lunchtime to see what I can find. But at least I'm likely to have quite a few more opportunities in the forthcoming weeks before the lockdown is lifted & I have to return to work.

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at #BWKM0.

13 Apr 2020

13 Apr 20 - More Red Kites On The Move Over The House #BWKM0

One of the nice things about being forced to work from home is the number of Red Kites I've seen this Spring from the house. I've seen six singles over the house & garden in May 01, Apr 10, Dec 10, Nov 18, Jul 19 & Nov 19 up to the start of this year. In comparison, I've seen seven during the current lockdown (up to 19 Apr 20 as I'm writing the Blog Posts a few days behind the actual date of the sightings). All seem to be on the move & drifting East, apart from one which went North East. Normally, I would be out Birding at this time of year or working during the week. As a result, the Spring Red Kite sightings would be more likely to be seen around the Studland, or more recently, the St Aldhelms patch. This Spring has seen a higher than normal movement of Red Kites drifting East through the Purbeck coast or around the top of Poole Harbour. They seem to avoid crossing over the water in Poole Harbour, presumably as they wouldn't be able to get any lift to glide over the water. The assumption is they are mainly non-breeding first Summer individuals which are generally drifting East back to the areas where they were raised from the South West.
Red Kite: I saw this individual approaching at lunchtime & I had the chance to grab the camera (8 Apr 20)
Red Kite: Note there isn't a lot of wear on the primaries (8 Apr 20)
Red Kite: Note there isn't a lot of wear on the primaries. The pale tips to the primary coverts indicates this is a first Summer individual (8 Apr 20)
I've had the camera close by for some of Red Kites & managed to get some reasonable photos of a couple of this year's individuals.
Red Kite: This individual is showing a lot more wear to the right primaries (9 Apr 20)
Although I saw my sixth Red Kite of the Spring on 13 Apr, I didn't have the opportunity to grab the camera as I was on a works conference call.

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at #BWKM0.

12 Apr 2020

12 Apr 20 - B Is Also For Big-Beetle #BWKM0

After photographing my first Black and Red Squash Bug & identifying it, I went back into the garden to see if there were any other Bees flying. One part of the garden has a lot of Bluebells & it's a real sun trap, which the Bees love. While I was standing there, I saw a large bodied Beetle, about 30 mm long appear & walk towards the Bluebells. Before it had disappeared into the mass of leaves, I managed to get some photos of my first very Oil Beetle. I've walked past the pictures on a sign at Old Harry on many occasions & so I knew immediately what it was. What I hadn't appreciated was how large they can get. After a bit of searching online, I suspected it was a Black Oil Beetle, but wanted it run the photos past Phil Saunders who seems to know everything about the local invertebrates despite only living in Dorset for just over a year. The first photo I sent Phil, came back as only a probably. But fortunately, some of the other photos were more conclusive & Phil confirmed my suspicions.
Black Oil Beetle
Black Oil Beetle
Black Oil Beetle
Black Oil Beetle: Phil has provided this link on how to identify the UK Oil Beetles & a form to report sightings
They are cracking looking Beetles & a real privilege to see my first in the garden. Both Black Oil Beetle & Violet Oil Beetle occur locally along the Purbeck coastline & I am surprised I've not bumped into them before over the years.

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at #BWKM0.

12 Apr 20 - B Is For Bug #BWKM0

Another explanation of what B in #BWKM0 is in this Post is for Bug. During a look in the garden at lunchtime, I found  different looking Beetle. After some photos & a bit of searching online, it was identified as my first Black and Red Squash Bug. Further visits to the garden in the afternoon, confirmed there were at least two individuals around.
Black and Red Squash Bug
Black and Red Squash Bug: A nice looking garden Tick

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at #BWKM0.

10 Apr 2020

10 Apr 20 - More On My Red Mason Bees #BWKM0

After finding several Red Mason Bees in my garden for the first time a few days ago, I was wondering where they were nesting. As it was the start of the Bank Holiday, I had more time to have a look around the garden. I realised that they were nest prospecting several small holes in the lime mortar on the side of my house. It was good to get a quick response to my challenge to myself.
Red Mason Bee: Mating pair showing how small the males are compared to the females
Red Mason Bee: Mating pair showing how small the males are compared to the females
Red Mason Bee: This individual looks like it is bringing out mortar on its face
Red Mason Bee: Close up

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at when I will be confined at #BWKM0.

9 Apr 2020

9 Apr 20 - A Green Theme #BWKM0

Today's B in #BWKM0 stands for Bug or Shieldbug to be more accurate. I saw my first Shieldbug whilst at university & after a bit of searching of the university library, I managed to find a single & very old book on Shieldbugs, which confirmed it was a Hawthorn Shieldbug. About a decade ago, I discovered there was an excellent book on their identification: A photographic guide to the Shieldbugs and Squashbugs of the British Isles by Martin Evans and Roger Edmondson. It was quickly bought & has helped me identify the species I've bumped into since. With the Lockdown still in place, I'm trying to spend a few minutes over lunchtime to explore the garden & I'm generally focusing on Insects that are enjoying the sun. The Insect of the day was a pair of mating Green Shieldbugs. I had seen one earlier in the Lockdown sitting & blending in well on the Ivy, but good to see this wasn't a lone individual & there is every chance of more on the way for later this year.
Green Shieldbug: f (27 Mar 20)
Green Shieldbug: Mating pair
Green Shieldbug: The nymphs are flightless (8 Aug 14)

Check tomorrow to see what the B in #BWKM0 stands for, in the next day's wildlife sighting when I will be confined at #BWKM0.

8 Apr 2020

8 Apr 20 - Finally Some Butterflies #BWKM0

Normally, I see my first individuals from the study on the flowers in my neighbour's garden when there is a small suntrap. But those flowers went over & their gardener tidied them, before I saw any Butterflies. In some years, I see the first individuals in late Feb or Mar, but typically the first individuals are seen in early Apr. So, this year was fairly normal. From early Apr, I was seeing Butterflies flying past, but not stopping. I failed to confirm their identification, but suspect they were Commas. Finally, on 7 Apr, I saw my first identified Butterflies: Comma & Large White.
Comma: Alner's Gorse (27 Jul 14)
Large White: Swanage (12 Aug 14)
Finally, I had two Butterflies on the #BWKM0 List, but this increased to five by the end of 8 Apr as the temperatures had finally started rising.
Brimstone: A male seen flying past from the study was great as they aren't annual. Fontmell Down (30 Jul 14)
Peacock: A look at the garden at lunchtime produced the first Peacock. St Aldhelms (20 Jul 14)
Holly Blue: There were no surprises when I saw the first Holly Blue as this is one of my commoner species given, I have allowed the amount of Ivy to increase significantly since I moved in. This was photographed in the garden (6 May 15)

Check tomorrow to see what the B in #BWKM0 stands for, in the next day's wildlife sighting when I will be confined at #BWKM0.

7 Apr 2020

7 Apr 20 - Three More Lockdown Birds #BWKM0

Looking out of the study window on the previous day while I was on work calls hadn't produced much out of the ordinary. I was expecting a similar day for the calls on the Tuesday, but it was a lot more varied. Firstly, one of the local Kestrels & a couple of the local Sparrowhawks were flying around quite a bit, along with several Buzzards. I had a couple of passes over the house from a Peregrine, which was great as they can be very erratic visitors. But things picked up when a Mallard flew over, with a second sighting later in the afternoon.
Mallard: This is an erratic species which I see once or twice most Springs of individuals that are presumably trying to find places to nest. Santa Cruz Island, California (21 Nov 14)
Not long after the second Mallard sighting, I saw my first Swallow flying North in a hurry. It had probably only arrived a few minutes earlier & wasn't hanging around. Quite a few locals have reported seeing Swallows in the previous week, but they are lucky enough to be within walking range of one of the wetland parts of Poole Harbour: which are more likely to attract one of the earlier arrivals.
Swallow: Middlebere (21 May 14)
It was a clear, still evening & about 22:00 I popped out into the garden for a couple of minutes. My plan came up trumps within thirty seconds: my third Garden Year (48) & Lockdown (44) Tick on the list: a calling Tawny Owl.
Owl statue: It wouldn't have looked much like this, but I've not managed to get any Tawny Owl photos yet

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at when I will be confined at #BWKM0.

6 Apr 2020

6 Apr 20 - My Second Bird Garden Tick Of The Year #BWKM0

One of the positives of the current lockdown is that Birders are spending more time looking at the gardens or local areas, with many enjoying their Lockdown Listing. Having lived in an excellent house for Birds & wildlife for around 23 years, I am already well aware of the its potential. However, as I can't go out Birding, I am enjoying spending more time watching from the house. I noticed as I got up that there wasn't too much glare from the sea by Peveril Point, so set up the telescope for a distant seawatch, in the hope of the elusive Common Scoter. I had forty-five minutes, before I had to grab some breakfast before opening the works laptop. After forty minutes, I was thinking maybe I should have abandoned the seawatch after thirty minutes as I had seen nothing. Then a Diver flew East through the scope with a second Bird. The one I focused on was a Great Northern Diver. I presume the other individual had been another Diver, but I didn't get time to look at it, before both had disappeared from my field of view.
Great Northern Diver: Crossing Harris to Berneray (17 Nov 15)
Immediately left of my view of Peveril Point is the tall Wellington Clock Tower, followed by trees so there is no opportunity to try following anything. It would have been nice to know what the other individual had been, but I was happy with the Great Northern Diver as that was a House Tick.
The Wellington Clock Tower: This tower was originally built in London to commemorate the Duke of Wellington & should have had a statue of Wellington in the open top, but lack of money meant it was never completed. It was finally bought to Swanage by George Burt & re-erected in 1868 (8 Apr 11)
Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at when I will be confined at #BWKM0.

5 Apr 2020

5 Apr 20 - Another Garden Tick #BWKM0

Today the #BWKM0 will have to change to Beewatching Kilometre 0. Just been out into the garden & spotted what a thought was a Tawny Mining Bee. But a quick check of my only photos of the species from my office in Winchester, confirmed it clearly didn't look like it was a Tawny Mining Bee. Time to find the excellent Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland by Steven Falk & Richard Lewington. This came up with Red Mason Bee. This is the commonest Mason Bee in lowland England & Wales. But as I'm still getting used to looking at Bees, then I'm not surprised that it's a Tick.
Red Mason Bee: It's always good to get a UK Tick in the garden
Tawny Mining Bee: For comparison the superficially similar Tawny Mining Bee. Winchester (30 Mar 17)

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at when I will be confined at #BWKM0.

4 Apr 2020

4 Apr 20 - The Lodgers From Last Year Are Still Here #BWKM0

I was talking to my fairly new neighbour last Spring when he mentioned, he had seen a large swarm of Honey Bees on the wall of his house a couple of days earlier. Given he has a relatively new house, probably 30 years old, I suggested that they were more likely to end up finding a home on my much older house. My house is a part of an ex-barn that is well over 200 years old. A couple of days later, on a warm, sunny afternoon, they found the wall of my house. For an hour or so that afternoon, there were a few thousand Honey Bees around the wall above the kitchen. But fortunately most moved off after that. But clearly a small colony established itself that afternoon. Despite being only a few feet above the kitchen door, it has been a real pleasure having them there. They are happy to go off & pollinate a lot of the local flowers. The nest is even closer to my bedroom. I've found that there isn't a problem opening the windows, providing they are opened sufficiently so if any get confused, they can easily get out again. The colony remained active throughout the milder, sunnier days in the winter & has definitely picked up in the last fewer weeks now it's getting warmer.
The colony: The bonus of having an old wall with gaps where there should be (25 Mar 20)
Unfortunately, there seems to be a few that have ended up getting caught in the recent chilly conditions & once out of the sun, they perish. I've found a few cold Honey Bees, which I've moved back into the sun & some managed to revive.
Western Honey Bee: Sadly, this individual didn't recover, but at least it posed in the sun

Check tomorrow to see the next day's wildlife sighting at when I will be confined at #BWKM0.