Wildlife Wednesday – Looking back at our April Wildlife Visitors

April arrived and brought an explosion of foliage and flowers, along with nesting Blue Tits, Starlings and for a brief time Coal Tits but we think they have abandoned their nest. And somewhere in the undergrowth hidden from view a Mallard duck made a nest too.

Mallard Duck Chicks

Mallard Duck Chicks up on our patio

We are separated from a tributary to the River Flit by the 15 metre width of my neighbours garden. Our boundary is mostly made up of a solid fence but at one point about 30 metres of trellis and chain link fence, this lets more light into my garden and as we like each other a little lack of privacy is fine by us both. The trellis supports old roses and ivy.

Looking for the gap in the fence to take her chicks to water

Looking for a gap in the fence to take her chicks to water

But Mother Duck having nested and succesfully hatched 12 chicks in our garden, could now not find a gap through our fence to cross my neighbours garden to the river tributary. So she led all 12 for over an hour, stopping now and again for a rest. The chicks could hop through the chain link fence, but she could not get through to join them and would not fly up and over. Eventually I helped and made a hole big enough for her to get through too. Meanwhile….

Leading her children down the patio steps

Leading her children down the patio steps

Leading through the bean and pea bed

She led her children through the bean and pea bed.

Chicks taking a brief look in my vegetable garden.

They stopped and explored my untidy vegetable garden and did a little light weeding

Leading the way

Then looking relaxed she led them back across the lawn

And finally after finding the newly made hole she led her chicks across my neighbours lawn under her hedge and into the river tributary. Sadly, I know she will have hatched 12 chicks as there is a high percentage some will be predated.

Other visitors included 7 spot ladybirds. Although the 7 spot is among the most common Ladybird in the UK they are under threat from Harlequins. Originally introduced from Asia to Europe for commercial crop control Harlequins have spread to the UK arriving in 2004. 7 Spot Ladybirds sleep or are dormant through the winter, emerging from March to May to mate and reproduce. One 7 spot eats 5,000 aphids in their year long life.

7 spot native Ladybird

Harlequins also eat aphids but add in lacewings, hoverflies and other ladybirds. To monitor the spread the Harlequin Ladybird Survey run by UK Ladybirds are asking for sightings to be recorded. UK Ladybirds is also a very helpful website if you would like help with identification and to record native ladybird sightings too.

There were Bees and Butterflies, but I have been slow to capture any in a photograph. Brimstones, Orange Tips, Small Tortoiseshells and Green Veined Whites have all been spotted in our garden this month. I have an exposed garden so usually we see more Butterflies here from late June onwards after they have laid eggs, hatched, pupated and emerged than in April but apparently we have just enjoyed the sunniest April since records began in 1929, hence some early visitors for me.

At the beginning of April, before the leaves burst forth, a friendly female blackbird who would normally feed on the ground made the unusual move and hopped up to sit outside the dining room window on a branch of Hydrangea petiolaris. She pecked at the fat blocks, I had hoped she would sing here too, do female blackbirds sing or is it just the males? but instead just gave me a close-up to admire. The blackbird song is my favourite, making my heart soar every time. To hear the blackbird song on the BTO website click here.

IMG_5226

The birdsong this month has been especially loud and magical and sometimes so loud its startling. The Robin is usually first to sing and they focus on singing whilst waiting for enough light to forage. Most mornings we are woken around 5 by a dawn chorus, just as well there is so much to do!

Robin singing

Please visit Tina’s blog at My Gardener Says who hosts this monthly meme for more Wildlife Wednesday posts from across the world. A bit of wildlife watching is so good for the soul.

56 thoughts on “Wildlife Wednesday – Looking back at our April Wildlife Visitors

  1. Gorgeous photos, Julie! It’s hard to know when to interfere and help wildlife, but I would have done just as you–congratulations for helping that little family. Not so little, though is it? Twelve ducklings!! I love your Ladybug/bird Beetle shot. the seven spot is common here, as well.

    Thanks for joining in!! What a treat!

    • Tina, apologies, I have just left two rambling replies to your post, it was either that or throw myself on the floor and cry. Technology! April has been an amazing month here but May so far strong wind and rain, I just hope all the young being born are not troubled by this current weather.

  2. Lovely images of the wildlife in your garden; the ones of the duck and her brood are wonderfully amusing as she looks so proud. I hope she manages to raise at least a few of them to adulthood. I listen to the podcast of Tweet of the day to hear all the birds or help identify the songs of those in my garden.

    • Thank you Christina, I am having a moment with WP, did this come up in your reader? I can’t see my post now but you can. Tweet of the day sounds good, is that something I could listen to here? My husband is much better than me at identifying bird song but he is a very good singer too, so that must help.

      • Tweet of the day was on BBC radio 4, last year I think. All of the birds British and later from around the world were broadcast, if you go onto the BBC website you can find it, it us available free all over the world. Amazing, I downloaded most of them onto my iPad so I can listen whenever I want. When I reply on the WP reader I’m not sure it appears on the blog post in the same way.

  3. What a great post Jules – the joy you take in your spaces and visitors comes through loud and clear, no matter what WP is – or isn’t doing. Such an enchanting photo story of Momma duck and her 12 babies! I’m with Tina – it is hard to know when to intervene but I’d not been able to stop myself helping get those sweeties through the fencing. There are projects here in the US tracking ladybird natives as well. I’m seeing mostly no-spots in my garden this year. Thanks for the link to the blackbird song. I’ve been curious for years, recalling (Sir!) Paul McCartney singing about their middle of the night serenades. I’m looking forward to more Wildlife Wednesday shares – Happy May!

    • Thankyou, Happy May to you too! I have now managed to reblog my post, Tina’s meme is wonderful, I hope more folk join in. I have been able to open your blog photos on my phone, your photograph of the white tailed deer looking straight at you is gorgeous. I am not sure if we have Sweat bees here, what a name, I wonder why? Nor Tree Crickets, its so interesting to see the different insect species you have in your garden. I am off to find Sir P’s song. 🙂

  4. A lovely post Julie. It did not show up in my reader, I came across it on Tina’ s post. WordPress has annoying habits. It keeps dropping my blog from other people’ s readers and dropping the blogs that I follow from mine. I love your duck story, what a family she has to look after. Well done for helping them on their way. You have taken some lovely shots of your birds, the blackbird and robin are lovely. I love the liquid notes of the blackbird too and also the thrush.

    • WP! Thank you for telling me, I wasn’t sure if it was just me, I have managed to reblog the post now. The birdsong this year seems to be even more noticeable than usual except for the last couple of days during these strong winds. I love the sound of song thrushes too.

    • Mallard chicks make your heart melt they are so gorgeous, adorable is definitely the word. We have nesting Blue Tits and Starlings too but I do not think we shall get to see those chicks so close up!

    • Thanks, I am really enjoying this meme, its made me think even harder about the wildlife in our garden and what more we can do to make our garden as wildlife friendly as possible. Even though we live very close to water a small wildlife pond is next for us.

    • That Robin was so uplifting to watch, he was determined and carried on singing for what seemed a good 5 minutes with me watching from a few metres away.

  5. Can only echo what most have already said – great post Julie. Love the ducklings, so cute. BTW your veg patch looks very neat – mine is still full of weeds. I am very behind this year! I love the ladybirds too. So far we don’t have the dreaded Harlequins here in Ireland and fingers crossed it will stay that way. Hope this May weather improves – ours is cold, wet and windy too!

    • There has been some careful editing of the worst bits! Its not that neat, like you I am very behind, a lot still to be sown and planted. Yes I hope this May weather improves too, the rain was welcome but the wind does so much damage. Hope you have a great week.

  6. This is a wonderful story of the mama duck parading her chicks around. Great pictures as well. Also love the photos of the 7 spot ladybird and the birds. I listened to the blackbird recording and it has a nice song.

    • I love watching wildlife in my garden Susie, we have some Bluetits nesting on our house nest box but I am too frightened of upsetting them, so we just watch with binoculars from the bottom of the garden. I’m sure we look odd to anyone watching us!

    • Thanks Joanna, they were a huge treat, the Mother Duck seemed not to mind my being around and for a while sat quite near me with her 12 chicks also completely still.

  7. Lovely photos of those ducklings! And glad to hear they made it back to the water. I only found out recently that large pike are rather partial to small water fowl… yikes! We have blackbirds in our garden too, and the male sings beautifully all day, rather loudly. The female answered him before they built their nest, but I think she is tone deaf! 😉

    • I have heard that about pike, nature can be grim. So females do sing! She must have other things on her mind now she is nesting, how lovely Cathy that they chose your garden to nest in too. 🙂

    • She was happy for me to sit and watch and got so close I was not able to focus my camera at times. We had had a female mallard come to the kitchen door several times, looking for food, I realise now it was almost certainly her.

  8. My mum & I loved your baby mallards so much, Julie! She adores birds and I am going to sort out ‘Tweet of the day’ (reading Christina, above) for her tomorrow. Mallards always look as if they have a smile on their faces to me. I think of ‘Blackbird’ as a Beatles song (from the White Album). One of my favourites, but didn’t realise that Paul had written it (not my favourite Beatle!). Thanks for a lovely post (I have to start counting ladybird spots – I’m way behind the times …)

    • Yes that was a great tip from Christina and I found the Black Bird song on You tube, once heard it was so familiar – thats showing our age!

  9. It must be lovely to have ducklings hatch in your garden, does it mean you don’t know have any slugs in your garden! You also have a good selection of insects one of the benifits from gardening organically.

    • We also have voles! I like to think they take the slugs which is the upside to them tunnelling through my veg garden. I cannot imagine why anyone would spray on a chemical when you have a whole range of wonderful wildlife to come and control aphids, slugs ect.. And brings so much joy to watch, even the voles have a place here.

  10. A wonderful post Julie! Your photographs are excellent and I am glad you were able to help the mother Mallard. We have a ground feeder in our garden with a guard over it to stop the rooks eating all the food (unfortunately the blackbirds and starlings can’t get in either). Last year the Mallard brought her ducklings to it and for a while the babies could get in and out. However, they grew! – and were just about able to squeeze in but, after feeding with crops full, they couldn’t get out. I thought I would help by lifting off the guard but the mother got very worried and flew at me. It was not a little disconcerting but I thought she was very brave to defend her babies. Eventually the ducklings managed to get out and I got rid of the ground feeder for the time being. Thank you for the links to the Harlequin Ladybird Survey and UK Ladybirds.

    • It did make me smile to imagine the chicks so full they could not get back out again, glad all was well in the end, did the Mother and her babies live on your pond?

      • They visited the pond regularly but there are a number of ponds and ditches very near here and all the ducks, geese and moorhens move about from one to the other. I have no idea where she nested.

  11. Such a lovely post – the mallard photos are heart melting.
    Although I’m feeling less and less of a mother duck these days as my chicks are 17 and 19, I’m still glad I haven’t got 10 more offspring to worry about! 😉

  12. Oh wow. I love all the photos here but the ones with the mother ducks and chicks are special. Mother ducks are so sweet. I read once where they actually talk to the eggs long before they hatch.

    • That sounds so connected and wonderful Debra, I had not heard that before. That explains why the chicks were with her every move and so well behaved.

  13. Beautiful photographs of your garden menagerie! Baby ducks are so appealing and she has been a very good mother to hatch out 12, I wonder if it could be an annual event? U love the blackbirds’ song too, they are the perfect garden birds. Amelia

  14. Beautiful photographs of your garden menagerie! Baby ducks are so appealing and she has been a very good mother to hatch out 12, I wonder if it could be an annual event? I love the blackbirds’ song too, they are the perfect garden birds. Amelia

    • I’d love for this to be an annual event, I am trying to make our garden as accommodating as possible. If only we had room for a really big pond, we are putting in a smaller one this summer though.

  15. Oh Julie the mallard is beautiful and her chicks are so cute…you captured them in so many wonderful shots…I love how they explore…and thankfully you helped her. I have seen females with chicks crossing busy highways where people are going 75mph and she has to cross 6 lanes of traffic…I remember swerving, braking and cringing hoping she made it across. Your lovely blackbird looks a bit like our robin.

    • I am cringing imagining the experience of swerving around a mother and her chicks Donna. Its incredible she took the chance but guess she needed to get them to water.

  16. Love this post! What a beautiful set of photos and such a heartwarming story. I’d like to think all the ducklings made it, lucky that you were around to help them along, I bet she’ll remember and you might just see her again next year!

  17. Pingback: Wildlife Wednesday – The Ducklings Brief Visit | Gardening Jules

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