Our move to a more wildlife-friendly garden is really paying dividends this year. I love to understand what is working and what is not. This beautiful spotted flycatcher nested in the gable at the front of the house.
The wildflower strips are now certainly mature, with a succession of insect friendly flowers from Spring bulbs to a mass of knapweed, bladder campions, yarrow, yellow rattle, birds foot trefoil and tufted vetch as it enters its purple phase. As well as a constant hum of insect activity we are starting to see recently fledged goldfinches feeding on the seed heads and a wren busying itself among the stems finding insects for her brood.
I wonder whether the constant bustle of house martins and swifts over our garden are due to an upwelling of life into the skies?
I have left more grass to grow naturally this year at the end of the garden, originally so as not to disturb the 3 new bee hives. Well they seem OK with an occasional lawnmower in the evening but the result is I prefer the look with mown paths through the longer wildness. And I am sure the large female grass snake we occasionally see is benefitting and here’s hoping she lays her egg in the compost heap again this year. It is certainly helping the short-tailed field voles which are often seen scurrying across the paths shelter to shelter and encouraging the Tawney owls.
So now to some science. The table below shows an extract from the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) data I input as part of their nesting neighbors programme (open to everyone) where I record what birds that have nested and still are nesting this year 2021. Already a trend has appeared where early nesters got caught out by the cold Spring namely robin, long tailed tit and blue tit – these nests were not predated, the young just died in situ presumably due to lack of food.
The most surprising record is three spotted flycatchers nests in the garden at one time which I hope is down to 3 or 4 years of them successfully thriving in the habitat we have created and so the population is rising.
And the costs of all this nothing but pleasure, goodwill and “no the house cannot be painted until all the house martins and spotted flycatchers have left once again for winter in Africa”