Busy birds and insects

The weather over the last week or so has certainly been pleasant enough here in Kent with no rain, a fair amount of sunshine and some pleasantly warm days. I must admit we do need some rain at some point as I don't normally expect to be watering plants and containers as much as I am. The nights can still be chilly and the wind too when it is from the northeast. However, the countryside and gardens look resplendent now with fruit blossom, flowers and late spring bulbs especially tulips and bluebells. The birds are certainly very active in the garden and I'm almost certain that the blackbirds and the great and blue tits now have some youngsters, as they are making frequent visits to the food sources and returning again very quickly. Smaller birds of various sorts are looking for aphids on my plants. 

In the past 10 days I have seen the greater spotted woodpecker once in the garden at my new feeding station on the peanuts, but it could well be appearing at other times as it would just hop out of the bushes onto the feeders, which are in a slightly more sheltered spot. I hope they will be frequent visitors again during the coming months as they were last year. The normal birds have been coming to the various feeders including the feral pigeons, the pair of collared doves who have learned to take seed from the new feeding station, a pair of wood pigeons who have done likewise and occasionally I'll see two pairs, a magpie, sparrows, the robins and the two crows. The jackdaws are also putting in an appearance from time to time but I've yet to be able to grab a picture of them sitting by my chimney pot, where as I've mentioned before, I'm pretty sure they have a nest again. Whenever I see them I don't have my phone to hand to grab a quick picture and by the time I‘m camera ready, they will have flown off. There also have been a couple of very noisy seagulls in the area either sitting on a neighbouring house roof or flying around which usually means all the other birds disappear. 

The two squirrels have been coming but not as frequently as in recent months and eating some of the peanuts again. They seem to chase one another around the garden a lot, so I don't know if they're rival squirrels or actually are a pair of youngsters from last year. I've not seen the fox this past week or any evidence of a visit. 

The brighter days have of course brought out insects into the garden in number including bees, bumble bees and the occasional butterfly. In my conservatory there are a lot of plants which have overwintered and some of my new sowings for this year. I saw a ladybird in the conservatory and popped it outside thinking it was the only one, but I've subsequently seen another one which I'm leaving be as it appears to be eating any aphids on my new bedding plants. Natural control of a pest is by far the best. My picture this week is of the ladybird but I'm not an expert so don't know what sort it is although it seems to have a lot of spots. 

My late mother always said that the world would be a poorer place without the birds and I certainly agree. A neighbour of mine has been asking for donations of food for the birds and squirrels visiting the local hospice garden for the pleasure of the residents. The other day I gave her some suet balls, which she assured me would probably last just the next week. If the birds eat them at the rate they do in my garden, I think she's probably right! 

Written by  Margaret Emerson

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