August always feels a quiet month to me. Yes, the wood pigeons are still flirting and the stock doves singing their cooing lullaby, yet the other birds are back into their teenage groups and flittering around the trees and shrubs.
Gulls are around here in never-seen-before numbers, and flocks fly in to roost on our industrial estate’s roofs nightly.
Bird breeding success has been poor here. The goldfinches built and went elsewhere. Various tits built in our provided boxes, although one pair never laid and one other family were discovered dried out like Egyptian mummies. Harewood’s oaks had a lack of caterpillars during the crucial feeding period and this may be the reason for the poor reproductive rate. I doubt anyone disputes global warming these days – one consequent is that oaks and other trees can synthesise their tannin toxin faster – killing off the insect larvae. No free meat, no breeding success for the insect-consuming birds. Guess the more vegetarian finches & pigeons have done okay.
Our grassland butterflies have laid their eggs and perished. The meadow is strangely quiet with just a few whites enjoying the remains of the summer’s glut of nectar.
Bees are still active. The bumbles, the solitaries and the miniatures still go about their nectar collecting, often in ways that circumvent the plant. But, that’s the plant’s fault – the ones I’m watching are exotic plants and should not be here. Their specific pollinators do not exist and our native bees cannot let those Joules (Calories) of energy go to waste.
The bumbles insert their tongues between the petals and sepals of the physostegia and extract the nectar totally bypassing the stigmas and anthers. A clever ploy I have never seen before. With the Lobelia cardinalis, they are attacked by drilling holes through the petals near the sugar supply, and the tongue can reach the normally unreachable in that divergent manner. Of honey bees I see little, as they seem to need urgently collect water to cool the hive and they have ignored our flowering plants.
With the warmth, hornets were expected but have been absent. Just an occasional one being spotted … so far, no invasive types.
A wasp spider has moved into the meadow. They come and go, not being consistently around each year. The big females appear willing to tackle any prey.
I measured the heights of our wild cherry and walnut trees recently. I did the two species together as they are the same height! All are 28m, with the textbooks stating 25 is a maximum height. Someone is wrong.
The cherry trees fruited well and the cherry stones have been spread far and wide. Walnut fruits are maturing and falling, with the glut due during the next month.
The wild fruit will be amazing here soon. Hawthorn, sloe, elderberries, dogwoods and hazel looks wonderful. Winter birds, dormice and other fruit eaters will have a great autumn.