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Up (dating) the Garden

Before I start rambling, is it only us that have been surprised by a lack of swallows and martins this year? The swifts normally arrive last, but they suddenly turned up without their normal precursors. Maybe not be anything, but the skies do seem a bit emptier than normal this year.

This year he garden has not been as interesting as in the summer of 2015. If you recall, we had two sets of guests move in, one welcome, one less so. We are fairly sure that the Great Tits that were nesting in the soil pipe from the bathroom fledged successfully, despite the magpies knowing exactly where the best was – but unable to get into the pipe to get the fledglings (incidentally, we do not hold anything against the magpies – the poor things have had their own nest predated by the local pair of crows, so what goes around comes around). The less welcome visitation was the wasp nest in the loft, which caused a certain amount of concern in whether they would bother us and the neighbours in the garden or worse perhaps find their way into the house – I still remember coming home to the house I was sharing at the time to find my bedroom literally crawling with dead and dying wasps (my erstwhile housemate at the time had arranged for them to be fumigated but had failed to either tell me and/or check they could not find their way into the house. But then he was an idiot.

As it happened our small stripy lodgers behaved themselves pretty well and did not seem to give us any reason not to live and let live in this case, which made the Lovely Wife and I happy – wasps are fascinating creatures and very useful in the garden except when determined to get into your Pimms or later in the season when they are effectively starving and go a bit nuts.

So far there has not been much sign that anyone is taking up on our garden’s offer of accommodation, although according to the Lovely Wife the bird box we put up in the apple tree was inspected by some of our feathered friends (albeit then turned down). It is now getting quite late in the season, and indeed the one thing we are starting to see is parent birds bringing fledglings into the garden and introducing them to the joys of bird feeders (no more caterpillars for you chaps, its sunflower seeds and fat balls from now on). Starlings and sparrows for the moment but hopefully we will get some more species with their juveniles in tow soon. They are always a cause for some hilarity as like teenagers the poor young birds have not quite worked out what all their limbs are for or how the ‘system’ works – and like many young humans as well are so keen to get their beaks on the food that they have not really taken the time to see how mum has obtained the treats in the first place… At least for a while, until the adult birds get so irritated with their offspring’s lack of getting their act together that they stop feeding them and youngster has to learn or starve. Generally we do not go down that path ourselves in functional families (that’s called being a college student I think) but I wonder if there is a temptation sometimes.

So not a vintage year so far but plenty of time for things to improve still, we are fairly sure our resident fox is a young vixen and she has been missing for a while so (thinking positively) maybe she is rearing cubs. Our pond may yet give up some new frogs to try and avoid catching in the lawn mower. The arrival of a band of badgers however will have to remain locked firmly in the land of fantasy, however.


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