June was a very warm month; during the rainy days of mid-month the temperatures still held at a warm 20°C. On 1 June, the temperature reached 28°C and was the hottest day of the year so far.
June is a very busy month for garden wildlife. There was no dragonfly activity, but an abundance of red and blue damselflies emerged from the pond. I did see dragonfly larvae, so I hope I will see more dragonfly action in July.
I was lucky to photograph a female demoiselle. These strikingly-coloured large-winged damselflies are rare in my garden but I witness a fair number on my walks between Fobney and Southcote locks.
Young bird activity has been noticeably late this year; nesting bird activity in the garden has been zero this spring. All that changed on 3 June when young blue tits and starlings appeared with parents for feeding. They were great to see but I wonder where they all nested?
Young blackbirds, great spotted woodpeckers, jays, magpies, pigeons, doves, dunnocks and jackdaws all appeared for feeding this month. I really should learn that, despite abnormal weather conditions, nature does catch up.
All manner of arthropods started to appear in the garden at the warm beginning of June, including shield bugs, green orb spiders, ladybird larvae, harlequin ladybirds, bees and a host of others I was unable to identify.
With the warmer evenings, far more moths and butterflies also started to appear. I managed to record meadow brown, red admiral, comma, large and small white and speckled wood butterflies. I was very lucky to photograph a scarlet tiger moth flying down to my decking. It’s an amazingly detailed and colourful moth, which you only appreciate when the moth is in flight; the under-wings are a vivid red.
The weather changed mid-month, although it was still very warm. I recorded 33mm of rain on 10 June at my garden weather station, and a further 6mm during the evening of 18 June. During this wet period a squirrel used one of the drey boxes to curl up in and sleep each night. Call me a big softy if you like, but the squirrel did look rather cute all curled up and cosy!
Towards the end of June, I photographed a frog in my pond. I am very puzzled by the frog activity these days. Up until five years ago my garden was all but overrun with frogs, but then it just stopped, and there was no sign of any change until this spring when I saw two in the pond attempting to mate but, alas, no spawn appeared. I saw a frog again on 28 June, so I’m hoping it is a good omen for frog activity next spring.
Six swifts circled my house on the morning of 26 and 27 June. This is really strange, because normally I witness this behaviour from the beginning of May right through to the end of July. They clearly will not be nesting here this year because the birds need to be fit for the migration period. This has been the strangest ever year for bird life; perhaps it was the damp spring?
By the end of June the temperature had climbed to 28°C – 34°C; ideal conditions for bees. I photographed leaf cutter bees in action; they are very interesting to watch and admire. You can learn more about them by providing a bee box or a hollowed-out log in a sunny place filled with hollow tubes such as sunflower stems or bamboo. The bee lays an egg in a tube, which it then seals with a cut-out leaf. This process continues until the tube is filled, then the bee seals the tube with mud or another cut-out leaf. The eggs hatch in the following spring and the process starts all over again. I have photographed all the action, so I will cover this again next month.
There was so much activity in June with foxes and hedgehogs that it is a job to know where to start! The two cubs and the vixen play each night, fight, dig, eat and drink either on the lawn or the wild area of the garden. The vixen has clearly been teaching the cubs how to dig. There are numerous serious dens created around the wild area of the garden and it will be interesting to watch for activity next year in one of these dens. I have decided to create a book of their activity during 2019.
The hedgehogs are still very active, with four recorded on some evenings. No young have yet appeared, and in a way I am relieved as I am sure they would be predated by the foxes. The foxes leave the adult hedgehogs alone.
Next month I will be reporting on a hedgehog I have named Bubbles. I was in the shed when I noticed my stored bubble-wrap had fallen to the floor. When I picked up the bundle, out dropped a rather large hedgehog! I made sure it was OK before wrapping him back up. I leave food and water out each night, together with a camera, and I have some very interesting images being recorded. I hope you’ll enjoy the story of Bubbles as it unfolds!