Return of the Harlequins

On the 29th September last year I saw my first Harlequin Ladybird. Eventually about 40 spent the winter hibernating in our door frame, alongside native ladybirds. They woke in the spring and dispersed. This species has expanded its range dramatically in a few years, first reaching Southern England in 2004. It is originally an Asian species which was introduced to North America and later Continental Europe because it eats more crop pest species than any other ladybird, the trouble is that it eats beneficial species too.  The jury is still out on whether it will affect our native species of ladybirds and other insects. The larger Harlequin may displace them.

Harlequin ready to take off


The female Brambling was back again today, looking bedraggled in the continuous rain. Some Swallows were feeding low around the house for a while. Goldcrests have suddenly increased in number. Some of these tiny birds will have just flown across the North Sea to escape the colder Continental winter- amazing.

Female Brambling
Butterflies and moths

More mild nights

More mild nights, last night the minimum temperature was 13.5 celsius and though it rained later the first part of the night was mild and muggy. I caught my first Green- brindled Crescent, a beautifully marked creature. Tawny Owls were very vocal last night. As far as I could tell there was a pair and another male calling near the house with more in the distance arguing over their territory boundaries. We can hear and see Little Owls and Barn Owls from the house too, but it is the Tawny Owls, the female who shrieks “kewick, kewick, kewick” and the males who “hoooo”, who are loud enough to disturb our sleep. Hedgehogs have not been seen by the feeding bowl much recently, this is probably because we have had more rain which means worms, slugs and snails are much easier to find. Moths are still flying and Pipistrelle bats seem to have found the area of the moth trap where many insects are attracted to the ultra violet light. Time to move it!

Green- brindled Crescent
Green- brindled Crescent
Feathered Thorn
Feathered Thorn
bird behaviour

Ampleforth migrants

A group of about eight House Martins, most of them juveniles, fed over the village throughout the day. These are probably birds from late broods in the village. With them a few Swallows. A larger group of about 40 Swallows moved south east over the village at about 7.30am. As the remaining summer visitors depart or prepare for departure so winter visitors arrive. The first Redwings were here and Siskins, Redpolls, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Song Thrushes were passing over. But the biggest surprise was a Brambling which spent the whole day in the garden. Besides being my earliest record for this winter visiting finch, to see it feeding under the bird feeders at this time of year was quite exceptional.

Brambling(right) and female Chaffinch today