Over the past week or so, young Tawny owls (Strix aluco) have been vociferous from dusk until well into the night. For a species so notoriously difficult to see, the fledglings’ squeaks seem to resonate noisily from every corner of the garden as they demand regular supplies of small rodents, frogs, insects and worms. The adults are rarely heard at this time of year as, in addition to placating their demanding brood, they are going through a moult. However, as permanent residents, their nocturnal cries pervade our dreams during every season.
Adding to the general hullabaloo in our small woodland is the ear-piercing screech of the Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), the melodious (more rattling when agitated) call of the Blackbird (Turdus merula), and the immediately recognisable song of the Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) – a migratory bird, quite insignificant in appearance but with a very strident voice. Excited flocks of Long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus) are also rowdily flitting through the trees chasing moths and other insects.
Flora-wise, the hairy-stemmed Hedge woundwort (Stachys sylvatica), which is rather smelly but good for bees, is a great deal in evidence. White clover (Trifolium repens) – a valuable source of pollen – is particularly prevalent in the meadow and around the pond, and the attractive Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is running rampant, not only in the garden but on roadside verges, lanes and waste ground throughout the region.
Sadly, our bees’ nest appears to have been deserted, probably due to the heavy rains this month. Nevertheless, Honeybees (Apis mellifera), Bumblebees (Bombus species) and Solitary bees (Andrena, Lasioglossum etc.) are relatively abundant on pollen and nectar-rich plants whenever the clouds disperse.