Lockdown Diary: Friday 26.6.20

One of the main reasons we bought our house, some 20 years ago, was that it has a decent-sized garden. Over the years, we have tweaked it here and there (mainly planting trees, digging ponds and occasionally mowing the lawn) and it is ‘managed’ a bit l...

One of the main reasons we bought our house, some 20 years ago, was that it has a decent-sized garden. Over the years, we have tweaked it here and there (mainly planting trees, digging ponds and occasionally mowing the lawn) and it is ‘managed’ a bit like a mini wildlife reserve. Something wildlife-related is always going on; and working at home during the pandemic has given me lots of opportunities to pop out there and see what the latest thing is.
Today, I popped out to have a poke around and almost straight away saw a juvenile Goldfinch, which was making its way toward the smallish puddle we call the ‘drinking pond’. This was the first proper pond I dug, many years ago, and was really intended as a glorified birdbath rather than a real wildlife pond. It is a bit shallow and does need regular top ups, especially during the summer. It serves its purpose well, though and birds do like to bathe and drink there (seemingly more than our larger, more heavily vegetated, deeper, proper wildlife pond).

Juvenile Goldfinch, our garden, Peterborough, 26.6.20
Anyhow, the young Goldfinch was making his way branch by branch though our cherry tree and occasionally flirting with the water, but then losing its nerve. After about 10 minutes of careful approach, it gave up and flew back over my head. I guess it will come for a drink/bathe a bit later.
Other birds in the garden included an adult Robin (the usual scruffy individual that follows me round) and a couple of Blackbirds; the female of the pair was eating some fallen cherries, and doign a spot of sunbathing. The previous owners grew lots of fruit in our garden (including cherries, some plums and apples, plus grape vines), and we have half a dozen fig trees, which at this time of year give the whole garden a lovely, gentle aroma.
Insect-wise, today’s highlight of my brief visit was the first Large Skipper butterfly this year. They tend to come every summer in very small numbers. This one was not hanging around for photography…
Later update. I just popped out again to see the sunny garden. I photographed a pretty little tiny fly on one of our Frogbit mini-lilypads. It is called Poecilobotrhus nobilitatus, if you are interested.

Poecilobotrhus nobilitatus, our garden, Peterborough, 26.6.20
Also, I saw our first Red Admiral and Comma butterflies of the year in the garden (too fleeting for photos). Plus the regular adult Robin did one of those spread-winged sunbathe things that some birds go in for in hot weather. I did manage a photo of that, though.


Sunbathing Robin, our garden, Peterborough, 26.6.20
Even later update: At lunchtime, I saw my first Common Darter (dragonfly) of the year, in our garden (which my dear wife Jo drew my attention to)

Common Darter, our garden, Peterborough, 26.6.20
But even more exciting was a mass invasion of Long-tailed Tits. Mostly rather scruffy looking juveniles, this noisy bunch must have numbered more than 20 individuals, and they hung around the garden for ages. At one stage seven of them came down, shyly, to have a drink in the ‘drinking pond’! These birds are utterly adorable, and we have never had anything like this number visiting before. Here are a few photos.


Juvenile Long-tailed Tits, visiting the ‘drinking pond’, our garden, Peterborough, 26.6.20