Recent Sightings

24th June, male bullfinch and great tit in our garden. CLICK below and the link will open in a new tab

23rd June, village Open Garden Day, lots of positive comments about our wildlife friendly garden and the birds still kept flying in whilst the visitors mingled.

15th June Our garden birds are stunning at the moment. House sparrows, starlings, jackdaws, bullfinches, greenfinches, great, blue and coal tits, chaffinches, wren, dunnock and blackbird have all reared young and our feeders are buzzing with birds all day. It's such a shame though that the neighbouring bramble thicket in the churchyard has been cut down. It was valuable to nesting birds and we have lost song thrush and blackcap along our boundary now. I hope one day that the churchyard will again be managed more sympathetically for wildlife. 

The magnificent male Bullfinch:


I've seen up to 4 swifts around the village in recent weeks, I wonder if they are nesting? I don't usually see them here.

Hornets are now appearing again. Last year they made this wonderful nest in our outbuilding, taking months to make. The nest is started by the queen in the spring, she lays the eggs of workers that continue to expand it. Later fertile males and females are born, that leave the nest and mate. The nest is abandoned as  surviving queens find somewhere to overwinter.

Constructing the nest:

The completed nest, now hanging in the eaves abandoned:

8th June I found this attractive blood vein moth basking in the tall vegetation of our small meadow

Bee flies are a regular early insect around the village, feeding on and hovering in front of their nectar flowers:

2nd June 2018 young grass snake under a tin refuge and two squash bugs basking in the sun

May 2018, the delayed spring caused everything to happen in a rush. Despite the cold and rain though most birds seemed to nest in March as usual and now our house sparrows, jackdaws and starlings have successfully fledged. It was good to find three recently hatched grass snakes in our wild bit, one in the pond and two under a corrugated iron refuge. A red kite was sighted in early May, over the village and also one at Bagber, no signs of local nesting though. Brimstone, holly blue and orange tip butterflies had a good showing but the weather hasn't been brilliant for insects. I was pleased to find a few cardinal beetles in the garden, see below, showing that our wildlife management is paying off. These feed on other insects in woodland edge and tall vegetation.

April 22nd, the most exciting sighting for me for a long time: a water shrew swimming under water in Cookwell Brook, visible from the small footpath bridge near the pumping station. I have never seen one before, they are quite localised but I often thought this would be a suitable spot for them. They are small and black with white underparts and wouldn't be confused with anything else.

Below: male redpoll in the garden, they stayed until the 22nd but have now moved on, perhaps to the stream and river valley or maybe have migrated north or east.

April 19th, first cuckoo heard near Hambledon Hill by my wife and I spotted my first swallow on the slopes of Okeford Hill, orange tips and speckled woods followed over the weekend. Now have slow-worms under my corrugated iron refuges.

April 13th 2018. Butterfly Conservation have published the results of last years butterfly season:

The good news is that butterfly numbers have risen since 2016. The bad news is that overall populations are still way below average.

New figures, published this week from the annual UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS), reveal how our butterflies fared last year in comparison to previous years dating back to the 1970s. Last year's data has raised concerns for some of our common species. The UK's white butterflies particularly struggled in 2017. The Large White dropped 19%, confirming fears that the species is in a state of long term decline. The Small White saw a fall of 16% and the Green-veined White followed suit with a 2% drop reported. One butterfly that bucked the downward trend is the less common White Admiral. Numbers of this striking, woodland butterfly soared by 157%.  

Find out which butterflies bounced back and  which two species suffered their worst year on record.

Link to the results of the butterfly surveys

April 12th, the month continues to be cold and miserable but we still have our bonus redpolls on the niger seed. Migrants have been arriving in dribs and drabs, now chiffchaffs are commonplace and today, the 12th we have a blackcap singing around the garden. Not good for butterflies though so nothing to report there.

March 2018 has been one of the coldest for many years. However the snow did bring several redwings and fieldfares into my garden, attracted to the apples that we have had stored since the autumn. For the first time in late March we have had lesser redpolls coming to our feeders, attracted to the niger seed which the goldfinches seem to ignore now. The 26th gave us a hint of spring as brimstone, red admiral and small tortoiseshell butterflies and migrant chiff chaff warblers were seen around the village, but only for that day. My house martin boxes, that were put up last year and have yet to interest any martins, seem to be attractive to a group of house sparrows so that is good news. My new house sparrow box meanwhile looks like it could be used by blue tits. A regular noise in the garden has been the tapping of beak on wood as the jackdaws prepare my owl box for yet another nesting season. I put up another owl box earlier in the month so fingers crossed it will be discovered by owls and not another family of jackdaws. If you read the 2017 entry below you will see how different last years spring was the migrants pouring in and early butterflies flitting around.

Apologies for the lack of entries for last year. I was disappointed how little interest I have had in the group but I am having another bash at it for 2018.

March 2017 At last spring has arrived. The delicate 'townhall clock' or moschatel heralded the spring by showing its tiny flowers in the hedgerows below Okeford Hill at the beginning of the month. I have had several butterflies in my garden already, overwintering brimstones, small tortoiseshells and peacocks have emerged from their sheds, attics and ivyclad trees, The end of the month saw holly blues and speckled woods flitting around too. The earliest migrant birds, the chiff chaff have been calling since the middle of March and by the beginning of April a few blackcaps could be heard signing their rich fluty song. I  have a song thrush nesting too this year  Once again jackdaws have occupied my tawny owlbox and have also attempted to nest in my soffits. One slow-worm so far has been seen under my corrugated iron refuges along with the usual bank voles.

01/08/2016 We found a magpie moth in our garden today, quite common in gardens, woods etc. its caterpillar feeding on many shrubs.

10/7/2016 At last warmer weather has brought out a few butterflies. A trip today (windy but warm) to Butterfly Conservations' Alners Gorse Nature Reserve near Hazelbury Bryan, led us to a sheltered bramble patch alive with silver washed fritillaries, white admiral and ringlet as below:

4/7/2016 a few marbled white butterflies in tall grass but cool weather is keeping butterfly numbers down (photos taken 6/7 by Denny Cook)

Marbled white

4/7/2016 An excellent year for orchids with pyramidal and common spotted abundant on the lower steeper slopes ofOkeford Hill and a few bee orchids too. A few pyramidals can be seen on the left hand verge driving up the hill

Pyramidal orchid

Bee orchid

4/7/2016 Red kite soaring over Back Lane

18/6/2016 Meadow brown and ringlet butterflies now on the wing in tall grass.

9/5/2016 a surprise visitor to my garden, the mist had grounded a migrating reed warbler which was singing happily away, it reminded me of my Brownsea days

6/6/2016 2 x red kites reported regularly over Bagber (Ade Parvin). Have seen them above the village too.

5/6/2016 newly hatched grass snake basking on track, Pound Lane

4/6/2016 Thick legged flower beetle (see below) now appearing in my garden meadow

13/5/2016 water vole reported by Derek Day near sports pavilion