Garden Robin

Garden Robin

Monday, 30 March 2015

Two New Moths for 2015

I put out the moth trap on Friday evening and was pleased to see two new moths for the year.

Early Grey (Xylocampa areola)

and Beautiful Plume (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla)

Hopefully, the id of the Plume moth is correct - there are two very similar species. I find identification of many micro moths quite difficult because many are minute, they are very lively so its almost impossible to get a photo and many species look identical to me!

Oak Beauty (Biston strataria) - I have included another photo of this moth as its one of my favourites.

I'll post a full list of species trapped later on my other blog.

Thursday, 26 March 2015


Lungwort (Pulmonaria) is now flowering well. This plant is much loved by bees especially the Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes)

We have another variety of this plant in the garden with white spots on the leaves which flowers later in the year. The foliage has given the plant country names such as "Virgin Mary's milkdrops" because of the ancient belief that drops of the Virgin Mary's milk fell on the leaves during the Flight into Egypt; "Mary's Tears" a Dorset name refers to the legend that the Virgin Mary's tears fell on the plant at the Crucifixion. Other country names include: "Spotted Dog", "Spotted Cowslip", "Beggar's Basket", "Joseph's Coat", "Adam and Eve" and "Hundreds and Thousands".

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Drone Fly

Drone Fly on Bergenia flowers yesterday.

There are a couple of similar species but I think this is Eristalis tenax - a honey bee mimic.

The larvae of Eristalis species are aquatic "maggots" living in damp decaying vegetation mainly in ditches and ponds but sometimes in farm manure pits and silage.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


"Daffy-down-dilly is come up to town
In her yellow petticoat
And her green gown"

The first daffodils are now flowering in the garden.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Primroses, Moths and Frogs are still Spawning

Primroses (Primula vulgaris) are now in full bloom in the garden.

There was much croaking and frogspawning activity coming from the pond yet again this morning. Most of the frogs are still diving for cover however quietly you approach but this little group were totally oblivious to my presence.

I fear one female had disappeared under 3 male frogs. I think sadly occasionally females can drown when this happens but I have been keeping an eye on the situation and she has survived so far.

I have added two more moths to the 2015 garden list.

This worn Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)

and I identified a micro moth trapped the weekend before - Agonopterix heracliana agg which is also a new species for the garden.

(Thanks to Dave and Ian on Twitter for id confirmation).

We put out some homemade bird cake last week and I was pleased to see a Starling (Sternus vulgaris) on the birdcake yesterday. Although we still have a healthy House Sparrow population in the garden we rarely see Starlings these days so it was good to add this species to the 2015 garden bird list.

Apologies if you read my other main Blog as there is a bit of an overlap at the moment with frogs and moths. I am going to have a think about what to do about this in the future but for the time being , although I will post moths and anything else exciting which happens in the garden on the other blog , everything else will just be posted here.

Friday, 13 March 2015


Common Frogs (Rana temporaria) have become more active in the pond as the week has progressed. When I checked the pond at lunchtime today 6 or 7 small clumps of frogspawn had appeared.

The frogs are still quite nervous and tend to dive as you approach but sometimes they get that engrossed in breeding activity they don't even notice you so I may be able to get some better photos tomorrow.

Mid-march is the average time for frogspawn to appear in the pond. I have kept a record of first appearance dates since 1993 and the earliest date was 24th February, 2011 and the latest date was 14th April in 2013 so there is quite a variation!

Thursday, 12 March 2015


"Say No to the Mow"

Last year I took part in Plantlife's "Say No to the Mow" Campaign where you leave an area of lawn unmown until 1st August and make a note of wildflower species that appear. These plants can then be entered onto Plantlife's website.

We left an area about 2 metres squared and I plan to do the same again this year. Already this part of the lawn has more wildflowers appearing than elsewhere.

I am not sure what species this - hopefully will have more idea when it flowers!

I believe this is Cut-leaved Dead-nettle (Lamium hybridum). Its very similar to Red Dead-nettle but the leaves are more deeply toothed and the flowers are smaller.

For more information on the campaign please see

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


Bumble Bees

I did see several bumble bees whizzing across the garden yesterday but this morning one appeared on the patio and stayed just long enough for me to fetch the camera and get one record shot.

I think this is a Buff-tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus terrestris). You can't see the tail in the photo but it was white and the golden-yellow bands (as opposed to lemony yellow) suggest this was Buff-tailed rather than White-tailed.

"...The black and yellow bumble first on wing
To buzz among the sallow's early flowers,
Hiding its nest in holes from fickle Spring
Who stints his rambles with her frequent showers...."

From "Wild Bees" by John Clare

Tuesday, 10 March 2015


Camelia, First Hoverfly and Bumble Bees and Hebrew Character Moth

The milder weather over the last few days means the white camelia buds are finally starting to open.

I put out the moth trap again on Saturday evening and found just one moth - Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica). This species is named after the dark mark in the centre of the forewing which resembles the Hebrew letter Nun.

Frogs are starting to stir in the pond and a few Bumble Bees went whizzing past the kitchen window today. I saw my first garden hoverfly this morning on bergenia flowers. Sadly it had disappeared by the time I had returned with my camera.

Saturday, 7 March 2015


Garden Moths

I put out the moth trap last night (a 15w Actinic Skinner trap). It was fairly mild with a minimum temperature of 7.2 degrees.

I was rewarded with three moths this morning

The beautiful Oak Beauty (Biston strataria) - aren't the antennae lovely?

Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria) - the females of this species are flightless.

Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)

Friday, 6 March 2015


Bergenia is still flowering - living in hope of a bee or butterfly in the garden this weekend.

My neighbour's red Camelia is flowering (a grey squirrel has been eating the flowers!!)

whereas our white one is still in bud.

Garden Birds

Two more species added to the 2015 Garden Bird List - a Sparrowhawk and yesterday a pair of Goldcrests were foraging among the Jasmine leaves clambering over an arch on the patio. They were so close I could have got a good photo but had the wrong lens on the dslr and the bridge camera battery was flat :(

A pair of Blue Tits are constantly in and out of one of the nestboxes.

Monday, 2 March 2015


I finally got round to planting out a few plants I bought recently - a Hellebore bought at a trip out to the nurseries with a friend last week and a couple of Snowdrops bought at Temple Balsall Snowdrop Sunday event

The Hellebore I bought at Baddesley Clinton a few months ago also got planted! Sadly, no flowers probably because its been stuck in its pot for so long :(

I've stuck the plant labels near the plants in the hope that my husband will see them and refrain from hoeing up the plants!