Tag Archives: food

A Very Crazy Spring – Winter Returns with a Vengeance

Only last week the weather was improving so much, and the spring flowers all blooming so brilliantly, that it seemed spring was truly here and here to stay. I even saw my first hoverfly, which was, unusually for our spring, a Drone Fly (Eristalis species):

But this week everything went crazy, with the arrival of the so-called “Beast from the East”, a fierce cold weather system bringing snow and freezing temperatures to all of Europe from Siberia. Just as I was winding down using the bird-feeders in my garden they suddenly became vitally important to birds in the cold weather, and were also getting the attention of many rodents, including one particularly handsome and determined Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus).  Here it is climbing out of the leaf litter next to the tree holding the feeders, just at sunset:

One night I even managed to get a video of the mouse climbing on a peanut-feeder, a tiny creature with huge eyes and ears, and a long tail:

However, there were also some less welcome visitors, such as two young Brown Rats (Rattus norvegicus), which were not quite so cute, and a lot bigger than the mouse, but equally interesting in their cheekiness:

   The cold weather inspired some incredible behaviour in some of the wildlife. Probably the most amazing thing I have seen in some years was a flock of desperate crows, Rooks (Corvus frugilegus) to be exact, who were managing to take food off the carefully-designed “crow proof” small bird feeders. One of them was even hovering like a hummingbird! Watch and be amazed:

The bad weather doesn’t end there though – tonight a huge rain storm from the Bay of Biscay, Storm Emma, collides with the Beast from the East and we have a Red Weather Warning, the highest level, only used once before and, ironically, only a few months ago when Hurricane Ophelia made for the island of Ireland. This time, it’s for snow drifts. Hopefully the wildlife will not suffer too much.

Nocturnal Visitors

Do you come here often? A cheeky little Hedgehog shares the cats meal with her, and thinks nothing of walking on the plate with his dusty feet.
Do you come here often?
A cheeky little Hedgehog shares the cat’s meal with her, and thinks nothing of walking on the plate with his dusty feet. I took this photo in my garden last night.

My garden has had little or no rain for five weeks. It’s hard to believe it. And, on top of that, temperatures have been ranging from the mid to late twenties Celsius for the past two weeks. All across Wicklow the grass and low-growing plants are dessicated or in hibernation. I was a little worried about Hedgehogs because I haven’t seen any since spring, but now the dry heat seems to be pushing them into gardens looking for food as their ground-dwelling invertebrate prey has climbed to higher foliage. Badgers and foxes have also come looking for food. Fortunately most of the cats and dogs of Wicklow are happy enough to share their food. Well, the cats are anyway. However, the shrubs and tougher meadow wild flowers have exploded into bloom and this has brought out the moths. Here are a few I photographed outside a light by the back door just last night.

Common Emerald - Hemithea aestivaria
Common Emerald – Hemithea aestivaria
Brimstone Moth - Opisthograptis luteolata
Brimstone Moth – Opisthograptis luteolata
Gothic - Naenia typica. This beautiful moth gets its name because the white veins in its wings resemble the colour and shape of gothic stained-glass windows.
Gothic – Naenia typica.
This beautiful moth gets its name because the white veins in its wings resemble the colour and shape of gothic stained-glass windows.
Fan-foot - Zanclognatha tarsipennalis. One of my favourite moths, it's quite small and gets its name because it has little fan-shaped growths on its front feet.
Fan-foot – Zanclognatha tarsipennalis. One of my favourite moths, it’s quite small and gets its name because it has little fan-shaped growths on its front feet.

For those of you who don’t know, this is the very best time of the year to see moths. And many of them are absolutely spectacular.