April – June 2020

Lockdown has continued throughout the next three months. However, the weather has been surprisely good and I was able to spend a lot of time in the garden. One advantage of this was the fact that I was seeing things that I might have missed otherwise.

Every year for the last three years we have had a pair of Tree Sparrows which roost in one of our nest boxes over winter and nest in it during the Spring with three broods of young over Spring and Summer. As I was sitting out in the garden I watched a Blue Tit systematically pick out all the nesting material in the box for about twenty minutes. I thought it was perhaps planning using the box for its own nest. I had never seen this happen before. However, a few days later, the Tree Sparrows started to build up the nest again in the box and successfully had their first brood.

I have now two neighbouring young cats which persistently come into the garden despite my best efforts to dissuade them. They sit behind the bushes close to the feeders and have on lots of occasions caught some young birds. I was aware that the numbers of young birds in the garden was greatly reduced from previous years but this may have only been one reason. Another reason was a Sparrowhawk which frequently sat on the fence. There were quite a few young Starlings about they did not hang around for long.

Three early Butterflies came into the garden. I do not recall seeing them in the garden before : a Speckled Wood, a Meadow Brown and a Ringlet.

The highlight for me at this time was a first visit ever in the garden of a Jay. Had I not been in Lockdown I would possibly have missed it. It came in and fed on the ground below the feeders. We watched it out of the porch window but the slightest movement and it was away. Although it came in regularly for a few days I only got one distant shot. However, I was delighted that it had come into the garden if only for a short time.

Another good thing about lockdown is that it gave Frank and I the opportunity to take up a new hobby that we had been considering for a while.  Frank had been speaking for a long time now about getting a moth trap.  Less enthusiastically I agreed.  We don’t see many moths on our windows here during the winter. Our first venture in moth trapping meant getting up at five thirty in the morning to see what was in the trap before they flew.  There were about twelve moths on that occasion. The two most interesting and lovely ones that day were a Peppered Moth and a Poplar Hawk Moth.  A few days later we had a beautiful White Ermine.  As the days went on our repertoire of moths increased and there was a feeling of anticipation each morning as if we were opening a Christmas present each day.  We could not have imagined there were so many different moths.They had all to be photographed as we would never have found out what they were.  The joy of moth trapping is the expectation each time of what we are going to find. It was so easy to become hooked. On one occasion we had fifty moths in the trap.  The hard bit is naming them all! There are about 2500 moths species in the UK, but of those 1600 are micro moths.  We were spending many hours trying to identify them all.  Thanks to the help of friends who were moth experts our confidence is growing but it can still take us both quite a while to identity them.  With the darker mornings we don’t need to get out so early to the trap and there are no longer so many moths.  I started out as a sceptic to moth trapping but am now looking forward to continuing this hobby. We are beginning to get more and more moths each time.