Today you might see...

Sunday 24 May 2020

Yesterday evening we'd watched the blue tits still flying in and out of the bird box. This morning, there was no activity at all and no sign of the fledglings or their parents. A blue tit did briefly visit the box, took a quick look in and flew off. We don't know what happened, but maybe they fledgled early this morning.

A female red-backed shrike was singing near the house.

The eggs I collected from our hazel tree a couple of days ago, hatched today. They do appear to be ladybird larvae. I deployed them on our hop which is suffering from a really bad aphid problem this year. We noticed that a lot of beech trees in the valley have really bad white fly this year and some of them look like they're very stressed with this and the lack of rain.

Female red-backed shrike, Christophstal May 2020

Female red-backed shrike, Christophstal May 2020

Ladybird hatchlings, Christophstal May 2020

Ladybird hatchlings, Christophstal May 2020

Saturday 23 May 2020
House martin, Christophstal May 2020

House martin, Christophstal May 2020

We had some strange weather today. It was 16oC first thing in the morning and it was raining. We haven't seen rain for ages. By the afternoon, the temperature was 6oC.

There were lots of house martins flying around the house in the afternoon and I managed a close-up photo of this individual as he flew close.

Friday 22 May 2020

I had a day off work so we both spent all day gardening. While getting some tools out of the shed, I noticed that one of our red ant nests was quiet and there were lots of dead bodies around. I've no idea what happened here. There were a few body parts of black ants amongst the bodies so it may be that there was some kind of attack. I must admit that having been bitten a few times I thought that these red ants would be formidable fighters.

I found a bit of time to see what insects were around. This beetle is likely to be Agapanthia intermedia which is reasonably uncommon.

Red ant bodies, Christophstal May 2020

Red ant bodies, Christophstal May 2020

<em>Agapanthia intermedia</em>, Christophstal May 2020

Agapanthia intermedia, Christophstal May 2020

Thursday 21 May 2020
Flesh fly, Christophstal May 2020

Flesh fly, Christophstal May 2020

Small elephant hawk-moth, Christophstal May 2020

Small elephant hawk-moth, Christophstal May 2020

Unknown insect eggs on Hazel, Christophstal May 2020

Unknown insect eggs on Hazel, Christophstal May 2020

Unknown geometrid on bird cherry, Christophstal May 2020

Unknown geometrid on bird cherry, Christophstal May 2020

Unknown caterpillar on Hazel, Christophstal May 2020

Unknown caterpillar on Hazel, Christophstal May 2020

Another public holiday in Germany, but today we had some gardening to do, so less time to watch the birds.

The blue tits still haven't fledged and today we saw Keef the woodpecker having a look in the box. Neither of us realized that woodpeckers will take a baby bird from a nest box if they can. They'll peck through a wooden box apparently, but Keef wasn't getting through our Schwegler.

A fine flesh fly was watching us weeding the beds with his bright red eyes.

A small elephant hawk-moth had recently emerged in the front garden and was hanging on the grass. Our untidy lawn is paying dividends.

I've found a few caterpillars over the last week or so and today I took some photos. I'm not going to speculate what the geometric is, but the other one is likely to be one of the Orthosia family, a clouded drab perhaps. I also found some eggs on our hazel thinking they might be moth eggs, but they don't really look right now I've seem them up close. They are probably ladybird eggs.

Wednesday 20 May 2020

We watched the nesting blue tits as there was lots of noise again. As before, nothing happened, but this time I spotted two mating slow worms at the base of the birch.

Mating slow worms, Christophstal May 2020

Mating slow worms, Christophstal May 2020

Mating slow worms, Christophstal May 2020

Mating slow worms, Christophstal May 2020

Monday 18 May 2020
Cautious blue tit, Christophstal May 2020

Cautious blue tit, Christophstal May 2020

Treecreeper, Christophstal May 2020

Treecreeper, Christophstal May 2020

We watched the nesting blue tits for a while in the evening as we were sure they were about to fledge. It seems that the parents were just being extra cautious going in and out of the nest as they were making lots of noise and not flying directly into the box. But, nothing happened tonight - except while we were watching, a treecreeper landed in the birch.

Sunday 17 May 2020

We had the first red-backed shrike visitor of this year today; this fine male.

The spotted flycatcher was around again too.

And so was Keef from The Prodigy.

Male red-backed shrike, Christophstal May 2020

Male red-backed shrike, Christophstal May 2020

Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

Great spotted woodpecker, Christophstal May 2020

Great spotted woodpecker, Christophstal May 2020

Saturday 16 May 2020
Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

Nuthatch in hawthorn blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Nuthatch in hawthorn blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Yet again, the spotted flycatcher was close to the house.

Despite the rain earlier in the week, the hawthorn blossom is undamaged and looks and smells wonderful. Here's a photo of a nuthatch hiding in there.

Friday 15 May 2020

Here's an unusual photo of the underside of a nuthatch.

The spotted flycatcher was around again.

For the past month or so, we've regularly seen a male and a female woodpecker (rarely at the same time though). Today we had a second male, who was sporting a double mohican similar to Keith from the Prodigy.

There were also two white wagtails around the house.

I'm finishing with a few photos of the blue tits coming and going from our nest box. Judging by the size of that fecal sac, the chicks must be getting quite big now.

Underside of a nuthatch, Christophstal May 2020

Underside of a nuthatch, Christophstal May 2020

Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

Twisted firestarter, Christophstal May 2020

Twisted firestarter, Christophstal May 2020

White wagtail, Christophstal May 2020

White wagtail, Christophstal May 2020

Blue tit with fecal sac, Christophstal May 2020

Blue tit with fecal sac, Christophstal May 2020

Blue tit exiting the nest, Christophstal May 2020

Blue tit exiting the nest, Christophstal May 2020

Blue tit going in, Christophstal May 2020

Blue tit going in, Christophstal May 2020

Blue tit coming out, Christophstal May 2020

Blue tit coming out, Christophstal May 2020

Monday 11 May 2020
Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

We saw our first spotted flycatcher of the year today, perched in the birch.

Sunday 10 May 2020

It was NABU bird count day today. In our chosen hour, there were very few birds about but we somehow managed 21 species for the NABU count. We watched our blue tits coming and going in and out of the bird box and just above them, it looks like a pair of marsh tits are nesting in a nook in the birch.

I've no photos of birds today. Just a red admiral butterfly enjoying the newly opened hawthorn blossom.

It was really warm today, but the weather forecast is still predicting some really cold days from tomorrow onwards. It seems hard to believe.

Red admiral, Christophstal May 2020

Red admiral, Christophstal May 2020

Saturday 9 May 2020
Broad-bodied chaser, Christophstal May 2020

Broad-bodied chaser, Christophstal May 2020

Swift, Christophstal May 2020

Swift, Christophstal May 2020

Hawthorn and rose chafer, Christophstal May 2020

Hawthorn and rose chafer, Christophstal May 2020

Another warm day. A broad-bodied chaser landed on top of the field maple. I took two photos, this is the second one. You can see that he has turned to see what the noise was.

We heard swifts screeching above the house for the first time this year. Previously we've only had one or two at a time.

I took a photo of the hawthorn, zeroing in on an area I could see the first open flowers. When I viewed the photo, I realized there was a rose chafer on there.

I don't have a photo, but our injured willow tit came to the garden today with a partner. We now know our injured bird was a 'she' as she was fluttering her wings at her friend and he was feeding her.

Friday 8 May 2020

Today was warm and sunny. We had a couple of swifts swooping over the pond so I tried to get some photos. These are extremely difficult and I've been trying to perfect the technique for a few years with mixed success. These two photos were the least terrible.

The lilac is about to flower, although the weather forecast says it is going to snow on Monday, so that might slow it down a bit.

The blue tits in our nest box are busy flying in and out with caterpillars and we've seen that a pair of great tits have taken up residence in our other bird box. Here's a photo of one of the blue tits taking a short rest.

A few greenfinches have been down by the pond eating dandelion seeds and another greenfinch was displaying on our sunflower seed feeder.

The injured willow tit (see early posts) is now nearly completely recovered and if he wasn't still struggling a bit with flying, I wouldn't have realised it was him.

Today we have two birds in the apple blossom; a greenfinch and a chaffinch.

We saw this fabulous beetle beside the driveway when we went for a walk in the afternoon. This is Chrysolina fastuosa, a new species for the garden.

Lastly, I've got another photo of the jay with a facial tumour. I've been photographing him regularly ever since we first saw him over a year ago. It seems to have worsened quite quickly. As before, I've made the initial photo as small as possible - don't click it unless you've got a strong stomach.

Swift, Christophstal May 2020

Swift, Christophstal May 2020

Swift, Christophstal May 2020

Swift, Christophstal May 2020

Lilac, Christophstal May 2020

Lilac, Christophstal May 2020

Blue tit, Christophstal May 2020

Blue tit, Christophstal May 2020

Greenfinch eating dandelion seeds, Christophstal May 2020

Greenfinch eating dandelion seeds, Christophstal May 2020

Displaying greenfinch, Christophstal May 2020

Displaying greenfinch, Christophstal May 2020

Injured willow tit, Christophstal May 2020

Injured willow tit, Christophstal May 2020

Greenfinch and chaffinch in apple blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Greenfinch and chaffinch in apple blossom, Christophstal May 2020

<em>Chrysolina fastuosa</em>, Christophstal May 2020

Chrysolina fastuosa, Christophstal May 2020

Jay with tumour, Christophstal May 2020

Jay with tumour, Christophstal May 2020

Thursday 7 May 2020
Pied Flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

Pied Flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

Pied Flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

Pied Flycatcher, Christophstal May 2020

I've not had much time to watch what is happening around the garden, but today a pied flycatcher was down by the pond.

Sunday 3 May 2020

Not many photos today either. A male blackcap was hopping about in the hawthorn and a chiffchaff was singing in the hazel.

Any today's bird in the apple blossom is a greenfinch.

Male blackcap, Christophstal May 2020

Male blackcap, Christophstal May 2020

Chiffchaff, Christophstal May 2020

Chiffchaff, Christophstal May 2020

Greenfinch in apple blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Greenfinch in apple blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Saturday 2 May 2020
Spruce protocones, Christophstal May 2020

Spruce protocones, Christophstal May 2020

Hawthorn about to blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Hawthorn about to blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Jay in apple blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Jay in apple blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Not many photos for today. I'm starting with a photo of our spruce tree which is sporting some fine protocones right now.

The hawthorn is nearly flowering - probably another couple of days and it will be out.

And the apple tree blossom continues to provide excellent photo opportunities for any bird that happens to land in it. Today we have a jay.

Friday 1 May 2020

There are a couple of photos today of the injured willow tit that has been around the garden for a couple of weeks now. His tail has regrown quite well but he still has to make a lot of effort to fly any distance. We saw him struggling to get from the hornbeams to the bird cherry today and he only just made it. The photos of him in the apple blossom are uncropped straight from the camera.

A raven attempted to cross the valley in the morning, but the nesting crows chased him off. The last photo in this sequence shows the raven is quite happy to fly upside-down when necessary.

Lastly, here's a dishevelled starling. He is one of a small flock of about 10 starlings that are regularly flying back and forth over the valley. They're collecting caterpillars on our side of the valley and they must be nesting over the other side. 

Injured willow tit with regrowing tail, Christophstal May 2020

Injured willow tit with regrowing tail, Christophstal May 2020

Injured willow tit in apple blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Injured willow tit in apple blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Injured willow tit in apple blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Injured willow tit in apple blossom, Christophstal May 2020

Raven and crows, Christophstal May 2020

Raven and crows, Christophstal May 2020

Raven and crows, Christophstal May 2020

Raven and crows, Christophstal May 2020

Raven and crows, Christophstal May 2020

Raven and crows, Christophstal May 2020

Starling, Christophstal May 2020

Starling, Christophstal May 2020