30 Jun 13

Stanton Park: The Spotted Flycatcher still showing well at the Dam end of the lake , also a Kingfisher showing on the Small Pond. (Graham Cox)

 Spotted Flycatcher (Graham Cox)

Broad Bodied Chaser (Graham Cox)

Lydiard Park: Walking our dog’s with Mum and Dad this morning at Lydiard Park spotted Great Spotted Woodpecker. (Harry King)

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Harry King)

Clouts Wood, Wroughton: This afternoon birding with Dad found this juvenile Green Woodpecker. Spent age’s watching it hoping to get shot of parent, heard and spotted but never close enough to get a good shot. (Harry King)

Green Woodpecker (Harry King) 

 Green Woodpecker (Harry King)

 Broadbush: A couple of record shots of a Turtle Dove wandering around my patio this morning. These were taken through double glazing so not the best. (Gary Chalker)

Turtle Dove (Gary Chalker)

Turtle Dove (Gary Chalker)

29 Jun 13

Stanton Park: This afternoon 3 Spotted Flycatchers at the back of the Dam landing on the wooden fence, also seen 1 Kingfisher, 6 Mallards, 2 Buzzards, 1 Robin, Jackdaws, 3 Swallows and a Mute Swan Family. By the new Small Ponds up to 8 Broad Bodied Chasers. (Graham Cox)

Spotted Flycatcher (Graham Cox)

Spotted Flycatcher (Graham Cox)

Broad Bodied Chaser (Graham Cox)

Broad Bodied Chaser (Graham Cox)

Barbary Castle: Early evening at Barbary Castle spotted these - Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Yellowhammer. (Harry King)

Meadow Pipit (Harry King)

Skylark (Harry King)

Yellowhammer (Harry King)

Yellowhammer (Harry King)

Coate Water: Quiet today. Usual birds etc at hides, quite a few damselflies in fields near hide 2. (Helen Sly)

Male Chaffinch (Helen Sly)

Female Chaffinch (Helen Sly)

Juvenile Great Tits (Helen Sly)

Juvenile Great Tit (Helen Sly)

Orchid (Helen Sly)

A male Common Blue Damselfly (Helen Sly)

Azure Damselfly (Helen Sly)

Nythe: From the back garden today a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls passed over. A Homing or Racing Pigeon alighted on a neighbours roof but as far as I could tell it didn't have a ring. The House Sparrows and Starlings are eating me out of house and home and there are now several juvenile House Sparrows present on the feeders. On the roses a Soldier Fly chloromyia formosa landed and it took me a good half-an-hour to identify it as such. I had it down as a Cuckoo Wasp or Sawfly. (Martin Adlam)

Homing or racing Pigeon? (Martin Adlam)

Adult and juvenile House Sparrow (Martin Adlam)

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Martin Adlam)

Soldier Fly chloromyia formosa (Martin Adlam)

Lawns: Tree Bees Sunny and lots of buzzing and movement outside wire by the Drones...perhaps stimulated by sunshine.? All entering nest after buzzing! (Felicity Cobb)

28 Jun 13

Coate Water: Today down at hide two got 2 Common Sandpiper's and this Little Grebe, I think it had a bad leg. (Tony Martin)

Common Sandpiper (Tony Martin)

Little Grebe (Tony Martin)

Common Sandpiper (Tony Martin)

Little Grebe (Tony Martin)

Also seen at Coate Water: 2 Common Sandpipers, 1 Little Grebe, 12 Grey Herons, 2 Cormorants, 2 Mandarins,12 Gadwall, 200+ Canada Geese, 4 Great Crested Grebe families, 2 Greylag Geese, 1 Buzzard, 1 Nuthatch , 2 Chaffinches, 1 Robin, 2 Reed Buntings, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue and Great Tit families. 2 Rabbits at Hide 1. (Graham Cox)

Juvenile Great Crested Grebe (Graham Cox)

Common Sandpiper (Graham Cox)

Common Sandpiper  (Graham Cox)

Little Grebe (Graham Cox)

Little Grebe (Graham Cox)

Lawns: The photograph below shows the 2 entrances to the hive. The main one is a large gaping hole, now covered by wire. At the bottom of the picture you can see sawdust from the nest, now exuding from a hole near the ground (this is where I photographed a Tree Bee who could only walk enter the nest.)
Maybe, the area in between is now full of larvae?
If this were the case I can see that this tree would now be considerably weakened.

Two entrances to the Tree Bee hive (Felicity Cobb)

Also in the garden at least 2 Dunnock nests. (Felicity Cobb)

27 Jun 13

Lawns: Bee Update - As a follow up to the mystery bees in Felicity Cobb's back garden (See 26 Jun blog entry), Derek Lyford has an interesting theory: I am nowhere near an expert but my money is on the Tree bee (bombus hypnorum). They normally show more white in the tail than I can see from your pics, but I'm still reasonably happy.

On this basis Felicity carried out some research herself and found some very interesting and close to home facts about the Tree Bee.

They were first discovered in Wiltshire, England in 2001. A European species they have rapidly colonised Southern England to be one of our commonest urban bumble bees. They have now reached the North of England, and indeed the first Scottish nest was discovered only yesterday. Nests can contain several hundreds of individuals (I think mine is much smaller). They are known as Tree bees but will also take over bird boxes for nests and colonise roof canopies. As long as they or their nest is not attacked they are harmless to humans. However, people are advised not to get too near to the nest (breathing close to it) as the bees may well become anxious and angry.

The nest will contain 3 types of bee..

1. Workers..all are sexually undeveloped females. They forage pollen, and nectar, build and protect the hive, clean and circulate the air by beating their wings.

2. The Queen...her job to lay eggs. Usually there is only one. If she dies, the workers create another by feeding a female worker on royal jelly. She will then develop into a fertile queen. The queen regulates the hive's activity by producing chemicals that guide the behaviour of other bees.

3. Male bees (drones). They live in the hive during spring and summer but are expelled in winter(no food!)

They buzz loudly outside the hive in a figure of 8 shape, hoping the Queen bee will be attracted by them. (These must be the ones I noticed...not so many now as last week). Male bees have no sting...worker bees can and do. The nest of Tree bees is messy and disorganised (unlike the Honey bee with special compartments). From the outside it looks a picture of order, however!

Hope this is useful. I find it very interesting! (Felicity Cobb)

Tree Bee (Felicity Cobb)

Tree Bee (Felicity Cobb)
Coate Water: Insect hunting was not very successful but noted these butterflies, 5 Speckled Woods, 3 Large Whites and a Small Copper. Also seen several Yellow Shell moths, Silver Y moth and a Comma butterfly caterpillar plus lots of Damselflies, Crane flies and micro moths. (Maurice Carne)

Yellow Shell Moth (Maurice Carne)

Silver Y Moth (Maurice Carne)

Comma butterfly caterpillar (Maurice Carne)

Also seen at Coate Water: On the island was a Roe Deer with a young fawn and in front of the hide two young Pied Wagtail's. (Tony Martin)

Juvenile Pied Wagtail (Tony Martin)

26 Jun 13

Lawns: We have a mirrored prism in the garden. The crows are attracted to their reflections in the shiny surface and will fly up and attack their own images. Unfortunately in this shot below I have just missed the action!

Crows in front of the mirrored prism (Felicity Cobb)

10:00pm: another addition to a busy schedule. I walked down the garden to check the bees' nest and saw 2 small bats flying around. These have not been seen in our garden for a good 20 years!

Bees Update - The Bees’ nest is behind the blue bench at bottom of garden! and today a rather large bee has lost its way into the nest. It climbs in the completely wrong direction up the tree, falls to the ground and finds another opening at ground level. The nest is about 3 feet off the ground. Plenty of activity in the nest. The bees are active and appear to be finding no problems in accessing the cavity via the wire netting.I have spent time examining the activity from a close distance and the bees are not threatened by me at all.  It’s all happening here...(Felicity Cobb)

Bees Nest (Felicity Cobb)

Bees Nest (Felicity Cobb)

As a follow up to the bees in Felicity's garden, Felicity has a couple of questions which she would like to know the answer too.  Is there anyone that can help?

A neighbour (builder) remarked that the bees and nest will kill the tree. Is that likely, do you think?

I wonder if other neighbourhood bees are being attracted to the action via pheromones as there seem to be now greater numbers than at the start. Also, there is now no sign of very small worker bees who discovered the site and who probably excavated the nest.Perhaps they are safely underground? 

If you can help please email swindon_birds_and_wildlife@live.co.uk and I will pass it on. Thank you Martin

Lydiard Park: Common Redstart around the top lake, 2 singing Reed Warbler plus a third bird. Blackcap - 4 singing males, Goldcrest - 3 singing males, Nuthatch, Little Grebe - pair & two juveniles, Great Crested Grebe, 3 drake Tufted Duck and Mute Swan - pair + 4 cygnets (Nigel Pleass)

Coate Water: Still fairly quiet with the usual small birds and water birds, but in addition 4 Speckled Woods, Orange Tip, Burnet Companion moth, 6 Spot Burnet moth, Silver Y moth and many micro moths. Several Azure Damselflies and plenty of Crane flies. 3 Common Spotted Orchids in back meadow. (Maurice Carne)

Burnet Companion moth (Maurice Carne)

Common Spotted Orchid (Maurice Carne)

Orange Tip butterfly (Maurice Carne)

Speckled Wood butterfly (Maurice Carne)

Also from Coate Water: Sightings included Orange Tip, Speckled Wood butterfly, Marsh Orchids and Great Crested Grebe family with four chicks. (Marlene Finlayson)

Orange-tip Butterfly (Marlene Finlayson)

Speckled Wood Butterfly (Marlene Finlayson)

Mouldon Hill: Today there were several pairs of Reed and Sedge Warblers with young, a Reed Bunting, a Heron on an Island and a Buzzard. (Bob Shiret)

Grey Heron (Bob Shiret)

Reed Warbler (Bob Shiret)

Sedge Warbler (Bob Shiret)

Male Reed Bunting (Bob Shiret)

A "glade" at Mouldon Hill.  (Bob Shiret)

Oakhurst: In our garden today were 3 male and 1 female Bullfinch. (Bob Shiret)

Male Bullfinch (Bob Shiret)

Swindon: On my way home from school today I saw this lovely Buzzard above Blooms Garden Centre Junction 16 M4 and spotted this bee collecting pollen in my garden. (Harry King)

Buzzard (Harry King)

Bumblebee (Harry King)