Female Whitethroat, Christophstal May 2016
Meadow Saxifrage, Klosterreichenbach May 2016
I had to reclassify the whitethroat bird species today as I saw this female taking a leaf bath in our hedge. I'd previously got the species down as a passage migrant as I'd only previously seen it one or twice at the normal time we get migrants passing through. It seems that this species actually sticks around all summer, so it is now classified as a summer visitor.
We went for a walk in Klosterreichenbach this morning. It really is a fantastic valley even though the weather wasn't great today. We did see a new plant species for us: Meadow Saxifrage.
It was a quiet day today. There would have been nothing to put on the diary had this spotted flycatcher not appeared late in the day.
Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal May 2016
Bullfinch eating dandelion seeds, Christophstal May 2016
Blue tit in nest box, Christophstal May 2016
Blue tit, Christophstal May 2016
Female blackbird with nesting material, Christophstal May 2016
I caught this bullfinch eating dandelion seeds. We'd been told that dandelion seeds are a favourite of a number of birds, but this is the first time I've seen a bird eating them. He was clearly enjoying himself.
We now have two nesting birds in the garden. A pair of blue tits have been preparing a nest in our nest box on the plum tree. It doesn't look like they're feeding young yet.
This morning, we noticed a pair of blackbirds taking nesting material into one of the field maples next to the patio. They've been taking materials in all day. We first saw them just after 7:00 this morning and this photo was taken at 18:00 - you'd be pushed to find a human builder willing to work those hours.
I took some pictures of one of the caterpillars I found a few days ago on the bird cherry. I think it is the caterpillar of a small brindled beauty moth, but I'll have to wait to spring next year to find out for sure.
We found a slow worm in the cellar. Once we'd coaxed him out of the drain, we put him outside where he posed nicely for a photo before slithering into the undergrowth.
I found these small maple seeds on the field maple. They look just like the full sized propeller-type seeds, only very small.
Finally, here's a photo of the swarming tadpoles mentioned yesterday. We've not seen this in previous years.
Possibly a Small brindled beauty caterpillar, Christophstal May 2016
Slow worm, Christophstal May 2016
Field maple seeds, Christophstal May 2016
Tadpole swarm, Christophstal May 2016
Common frog, metamorph, Christophstal May 2016
Lilac, Christophstal May 2016
Proto-cones on spruce, Christophstal May 2016
We found this little frog metamorph down by the pond today. He was small enough to sit on your finger.
There's some strange activity with the tadpoles remaining in the pond. There seem to be thousands and they're all swimming around in groups. Photos to follow.
The lilac is now flowering and there are some proto-cones on the spruce.
This kestrel has become a regular visitor and seems to like perching at the top of the same tree. Today he was eating a frog up there (that's a frog's leg in his beak).
There haven't been a lot of butterflies this year, but there are a few small coppers flying around.
Kestrel with frog, Christophstal May 2016
Small Copper butterfly, Christophstal May 2016
White wagtail, Christophstal May 2016
This week ended with a lot of rain. The sycamore in the back garden is flowering and the maple in the front garden is at the only point in the year where it looks impressive. This only lasts about a week and then it is just a really dull tree for the remaining 51 weeks.
The bitter vetch is having a really good year and there are a lot more flowers than last year.
The orange-tip butterflies are still flying between the downpours.
A couple of white wagtails landed on our roof today - they usually stay down by the pond or on the road.
Despite the weather (rainy, but mild) there were a lot of swifts and house martins flying around today.
The pictured sparrowhawk flew over the valley carrying a bird carcass. This sparrowhawk was quite large and had me reaching for the goshawk/sparrowhawk comparisons. The thick legs and size suggest goshawk, but I'm going to be conservative and say sparrowhawk as it is a difficult distinction.
In the late afternoon, a crested tit spent a few minutes hopping around the hedges and a small argent and sable day-flying moth was nectaring on the bird cherry blossom.
It finally stopped raining around 20:00 so we decided to go for a late walk in the woods. We were lucky enough to see this fire salamander which enables me to finally replace the only species picture I had up until now - which was a squashed one.
Swift, Christophstal May 2016
Sparrowhawk, Christophstal May 2016
Crested tit, Christophstal May 2016
Small Argent & Sable moth on bird-cherry, Christophstal May 2016
Fire salamander, Christophstal May 2016
Female red-backed shrike, Christophstal May 2016
Kestrel, Christophstal May 2016
Pollen on pond, Christophstal May 2016
A female red-backed shrike was with us today.
In early afternoon, a kestrel perched close to the house and I was able to get some nice photos. The light today was perfect for photography - it was bright, but a little overcast.
A fine yellow dust of pollen is settling on everything at the moment. The accumulation in the pond illustrates this. Presumably this is from the pine and spruce trees.
We went for a walk from Mitteltal to Ellbachsee. The highlight was seeing these alpine newts in a puddle beside the path.
Seven alpine newts, Ellbachtal May 2016
Alpine newt, Ellbachtal May 2016
Feldberg from Schliffkopf, May 2016
Tree pipit, Schliffkopf May 2016
Meadow pipits, Schliffkopf May 2016
Male red-backed shrike, Christophstal May 2016
Sand lizard, Christophstal May 2016
This morning we went for a guided walk up on the Schliffkopf to hear the birdsong. We saw several meadow and tree pipits and we had a lovely distant view of Feldberg.
In the afternoon, the male red-backed shrike was in his usual position in the tree over the meadow.
We ended the day with a walk along the valley and saw some young sand lizards. The one pictured was only a few centimetres long.
It was the warmest day of the year so far and the sun was shining nearly all day.
The swallows, swifts and house martins were about early this morning but were absent in the afternoon.
The male red-backed shrike was singing from the top on one of the trees in our garden, presumably establishing his territory.
The warm sunshine has brought out the fruit tree blossom and the blackthorn over the other side of the valley is spectacular.
Swifts, Christophstal May 2016
Plum blossom, Christophstal May 2016
Red backed shrike, Christophstal May 2016
Female orange-tip egg-laying, Christophstal May 2016
The first red-backed shrike of the year, a male, was on the Harrerbuckel today.
I got a photo of a female orange-tip butterfly laying eggs on thale cress in the garden which is the best I have managed so far this year.
The bad weather a week ago didn't harm the cuckoo flower in the garden as much as we'd expected and it is putting on a good show at the moment. There are a few orange tip butterflies flying around them, but I haven't got a photo yet.
We went for a walk down to the fishponds in the late afternoon and saw this fine adder basking on the dry stone wall. She had a beautiful blue sheen on her scales in the sunshine. It's just a pity she had a cobweb over her eye.
We saw lots of flowering bilberry and I got close-up with some marsh marigolds. We had a look for the corydalis we saw last year beside the Forbach. It was still there, but I think we've missed the flowers this year.
Cuckoo flower, Christophstal May 2016
Bilberry flowers, Christophstal May 2016
Marsh marigold, Christophstal May 2016
Adder, Christophstal May 2016
House martin, Christophstal May 2016
Female Blackcap, Christophstal May 2016
There were several house martins dipping in the pond today.
A female blackcap sat in the bird cherry tree for several minutes and allowed me to take some unobscured photos. Normally, the blackcaps around here seem to always sit behind a branch or in deep shadow.
Today I saw a small flock of about 20 swifts flying towards Langenwald. This is the first sighting this year. Needless to say, I didn't get a decent photo.
There were lots of blackcaps about today. At one point, I saw four females. Here's a photo showing two females and a male. I'm not sure of the dynamic here. They looked like a family group, but it's far too early for that.
I'm including a photo of a marsh tit today. Although they're nearly always around, they rarely sit still for a good photo. This one was grooming, in a rare moment of sunshine.
Blackcaps, 2 female, 1 male, Christophstal May 2016
Marsh Tit, Christophstal, May 2016