Froglets and fledglings
There’s been lots going on in the garden too. We’ve had bluetits nesting in a hole in the tiles above our bedroom window, so for weeks we were waking up every morning to the sound of cheeping. They’ve fledged now, leading to a tense few days of finding fledglings in the garden and hoping that the dog didn’t come across them first. I found this one sitting in our potted christmas tree. Our garden is always full of sparrows, which are one of the boldest and cheekiest birds you find in your garden. They are a communal bird; always in a little flock of noisy squabbling energy. They nest communally too, and this year they’ve been nesting in the eaves of the house at the end of our garden. Also nesting under the same eaves are our starlings, who are just as communal as the sparrows but larger, messier, even noisier and even MORE prone to squabbling! It’s lovely to see them coming and going, but I’m quite glad that they’re at the end of the garden. I did find the dog with a sparrow fledgling at one point, but luckily it was completely unharmed (though a bit damp…).
The nest box in the front garden has been used by great tits. I’m glad they weren’t right outside our bedroom window either though, because the cheeping was very loud and very constant! About ten days ago, during the stormy weather, we noticed a female blackbird very busy gathering nesting material on the lawn and flying into the small standard willow tree in the garden. It’s only a little tree, stands very close to the house and is always full of noisy squabbling sparrows, so it seemed a very unlikely nesting spot. Nest there they did though, and the female has been sitting on eggs for past few days. They’re such wary birds that I’m really surprised at this; they’ve already raised one brood nesting in the conifer where they usually do. I’m hoping that I might be able to get some pictures of the chicks when the parents are away food gathering. I wouldn’t do anything to disturb the next though, obviously. I’ve been putting out mealworms lately, as the bad weather has really hit the birds hard in terms of finding food for their chicks. Our bird feeders are as busy as ever, too, especially as next door’s cherry tree (which overhangs our garden) has got a sadly meagre crop of cherries this year. Usually the blackbirds, starlings and wood pigeons feast on it.
A few weeks ago we noticed the tadpoles getting their legs, and finally there are tiny froglets emerging from the pond into the long grass and bog garden. It’s amazing how much body mass they lose between being a fat tadpole and a skinny little froglet. All that energy goes into making limbs and a new head, and changing the digestive system to accomodate a carnivorous diet. The froglets are very vulnerable now, particularly since they all seem to be emerging at the shallow end (that sounds obvious, but there are rocks and emergent vegetation all around the pond) where the birds bathe and drink, making a nice mouth sized snack for most of our avian visitors. The pond is still full of adult frogs and last year’s young. They like the deep end of the pond where they sit at the surface in the starry green blanket of hornwort, shaded by the water mint and bogbean. There’s always a chorus of splashes as you approach, but if you sit still then they all surface again and don’t mind you being there at all.
As I sit here typing this I can see the bat doing its endless circuits over the pond. It arrives around 9.30pm and we watch it until dark, swooping and circling over the garden. I assume it’s a common pipistrelle, our most common bat, but it moves so fast that I’ve no idea how I’d identify it.