England in late May 2016
As ever the weather is variable – warm sunshine one day, heavy rain and hail the next. Despite the uncertainty Mother Nature continues unperturbed, showing off her wondrous beauties to those who care to look.
The bird feeders need constant replenishment as myriads of starlings descend, whistling and shrieking and squabbling, each trying to garner the greatest amount of food. The young starlings, milk chocolate in colour with dark eyes, clamour to be fed though they are entirely capable of feeding themselves.
It is rare to see a solitary starling – they are social creatures and there is definitely safety in numbers though one fell foul of a magpie recently and was dispatched in masterly fashion.
Its cries were piteous to hear but all wild creatures have young to feed. The sparrowhawk, whose diet consists almost exclusively of small birds, watches from a safe distance, choosing its moment to swoop down and capture a meal.
The collared doves share the feeder with the starlings but see them off if they approach too closely. Wood pigeons balance precariously, spreading their wings to compensate for their unwieldiness. At this time of year even robins and blackbirds and thrushes come to the feeders though they prefer to eat on the ground.
A black cap darts in and away again . . .
. . . and the titmice seize their opportunities when the starlings vacate the fat cakes.
Magpies are opportunistic and feed where they can. They wait and watch until the pond fish are fed then fly down to enjoy an alternative feast of floating fish sticks.
Meanwhile a red kite soars gracefully overhead.
The fish have been spawning for some time and expend considerable energy trying to ensure their genes are passed on. Hopefully some of the eggs will survive and develop.
The early spring flowers are fading now – there are still a few bluebells and violets and forget-me-nots. Herb robert grows in abundance and flowers throughout spring and summer and well into autumn. It is a weed but so cheerful and pretty that it seems harsh to treat it as an unwelcome intruder and root out every sign of it.
The fruit blossom has set and it looks as if there will be a good harvest of apples, pears, cherries and blueberries, if the birds (or Frankie) don’t get to them first.
Choisya ternata (Mexican orange blossom) has bloomed beautifully and as it begins to wane the ceanothus is ready to burst into flower.
In gardens and woods rhododendrons are aflame with colour.
Though they can be a bit of a woodland thug and have to be restrained it is good to see the purple glowing in the sunshine.
May is also the mating month for ladybirds.
Judging by the number in our garden I’m wondering if there will be a glut of aphids this year. In similar vein I have noticed a great deal of blossom on pyracantha and holly – does this mean a hard winter ahead? I think that’s probably myth . . .
Another kind of ladybird . . . last year, 2015 . . .
. . . and this year, 2016 . . . faded but still smiling.