July is always a lovely month in my wildlife garden and this year was no different with spotted flycatchers nesting here this summer. I was able to watch these wonderful, charismatic little birds around the garden every day with one permanently on the nest and the second of the pair feeding, although I never witnessed a changeover. All around the garden lots of wildflower species were in flower but meadow cranesbill in particular was still much in evidence, creating a huge swathe of blue in one area of the garden right outside my office window which was wonderful to look out on! Oxeye daisies were also flowering well – especially outside the house back door – again a beautiful sight. Elsewhere, there were large areas of hogweed in full flower These are left where they are as the flowers attract huge numbers of small invertebrates, which in turn provide food for chiffchaffs and other small birds in the garden. A Juvenile great spotted woodpecker was seen on the 5th which was the first seen here for a while. As the week ended one of the flycatchers was always on the nest while the second bird could usually be seen in an oak tree nearby.
In the second week of the month St John’s wort was flowering prolifically around the garden especially on the pond bank and in some of the nectar borders. Lady’s bedstraw and common knapweed were also both flowering well and attracting a wide range of invertebrates. The common spotted orchids though were now over and setting seed. However the long herbaceous borders were coming into flower and it seems they are going to make a good show this summer! The yellow flowered Centaurea is very tall as is the Echinops – both wonderful for summer butterflies. Elsewhere in the garden more wildflowers were in bloom especially meadowsweet which has seeded and is flowering all around the garden now – in fact July seemed to be a good month for many of the wildflowers in the garden. Lots of young goldfinches were seen feeding on the seeds of the sow thistle and both flycatchers were seen daily this week including one on the 15th with a white butterfly in its beak!
Meadowsweet in full flower
The third week of the month saw a complete change in the weather to a short heatwave! It was very hot, humid and dry. There were very few butterflies around, – in fact it had been a very poor summer for butterflies so far with only a few browns in the meadow and the odd gatekeeper. The flycatchers however were feeding young in the nest which was brilliant!. The wild mallard seem to have abandoned our pond and the moorhens had moved to the pond in the field next door. Knapweed and St Johns wort continued to flower in the meadows, and the meadowsweet scented the air. On the 18th I had a glimpse of a kingfisher by the Big Pond. The last week of the month saw the weather back to ‘normal’ after the mini-heatwave. In fact by the 25th it was quite cool and windy! Two mallard reappeared on the pond – an adult female and a well grown youngster. There was no sign of the flycatchers at the nest but on the 23rd several were seen around the garden in various places, especially by the pond and in the orchard, so presumably they had successfully fledged.
The 25th of the month was quite cool and windy but lots of young tits were feeding around the garden and a pair of yellowhammers was seen on the hedge and sometimes on the overhead wires. The linnets, which appear to be nesting in the big meadow, were still with us but there was no great increase in the numbers of butterflies except for whites and there were no migrant species at all. Excellent news though was that house martins seem to be investigating the nest cups we put up above the back door of the house seventeen years ago, and they are spending some time in the nest cups!
At the end of the month the weather was cooler again and by the 28th it was quite cold!. A wren was seen again in the log pile in the copse where there had been a successful nest earlier this year, plus two juvenile greenfinches visited the feeders in the garden along with an adult male. At the front of the house the swallows were feeding a second brood (and dropping their poo sacs onto the car!) and the month ended with a lovely bright day on the 31st with lots of exciting wildlife all around the garden.