Wildlife and Natural History Articles 2020

10-09-2020 Keith Littlejohns, Some Common Visitors to Our Garden Bird Feeding Station.

All Photos: © Keith Littlejohns

Goldfinch adultGoldfinch, adult

Goldfinch, juvenileGoldfinch, juvenile

Great tit, adultGreat Tit, adult

Blue tit, femaleBlue Tit, female

06-07-2020 Fred Taylor, Dippers and Kingfisher Seen in Village.

© All Photos: Fred Taylor
I took these this afternoon, the kingfisher looks like a juvenile female. I have seen 3 different kingfishers so far this year.

The dippers have been very busy feeding their young as you can see from these pictures. They are amazing parents

Best wishes – Fred Taylor

09-06-2020 Keith Littlejohns, Common Toad, Bufo bufo Seen in Village.

Photo: © Keith Littlejohns
A common toad, Bufo bufo on a scrubby part of our lawn left un-mown to encourage daises, Bellis perennis and buttercups, Ranunculus spp. to grow. Common toads are frequently seen in our garden as there seems to be a sizeable community in our immediate vicinity.

They visit our pond and I have even found them in my wellington boots and gardening boots in our garage early in the year having hunkered down there for winter. The very first time I noticed this was whilst putting on one of my boots and feeling what I thought was an old sock stuck in the toe area only to be surprised to see a rather disgruntled toad looking at me through sleepy eyes. I now always check more carefully as this has happened on several occasions!

Common toads are amphibians, breeding in ponds during the spring and spending much of the rest of the year feeding in woodland, gardens, hedgerows and tussocky grassland. They are famous for their mass migrations back to their breeding ponds on the first warm, damp evenings of the year, often around St. Valentine’s Day.

Common toads tend to breed in larger, deeper ponds than common frogs, but still frequent gardens. They hibernate over winter, often under log piles, stones or even in old flower pots!

The common toad has olive-brown, warty skin, copper eyes and short back legs. It walks rather than hops, and lays its spawn in long strings around aquatic plants, with two rows of eggs per string.

Adult toad’s reach a length of 8-13cm, weigh up to 80g, have an average lifespan is up to 4 years and are generally active from February to October.

All toad’s are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

Keith Littlejohns

03-06-2020 Fred Taylor, Another Family of Swans Seen in Village.

Did you see that there was another family of swans that had ventured up the river on Sunday? They had 8 cygnets who were younger than our resident cygnets.

It all kicked off after we had fed them, the 2 males got in to a vicious fight, obviously the resident male was not happy that another male and family were on his territory. He saw off the intruders and they went further up the river, we haven’t seen the new family since but I did manage to get some pictures of them.
There were feathers everywhere.

Best wishes – Fred Taylor

01-06-2020 Keith Littlejohns, Sphinx ligustri the Privet Hawk-Moth.

Photo: © Keith Littlejohns
Photographed in shrubbery beside the Tresillian Allotment gate the distinctive delta shape and banded body colours of the large privet hawk-moth, Sphinx ligustri makes it easy to spot.

Privet hawk-moths are common across southern and central England and Wales. They are regular visitors to suburban parks and gardens as well as woodland, hedgerows and the wider countryside. These moths feed by night but can sometimes be found resting on tree trunks during the day. They typically have a 9-12cm wingspan, hence their common reference as large. Adults are on the wing between June and July. They are strong fliers and range widely in search of mates.

The UK’s population is stable and not thought to be under threat, however the rapid spread of ash dieback disease could impact the abundance of suitable caterpillar foodplants on which to lay eggs. You can encourage these moths to visit your garden by planting strong-scented night flowers.

Keith Littlejohns

17-05-2020 Philip Buddell, wildlife Seen in Village.

A few unusual happenings this week in the village:  On Wednesday afternoon as Linda and I were returning by car from the Truro direction, the traffic (yes, it’s returned!) had halted towards the west end of the village near Creekside Close; a pair of Shelduck were fluttering over the grass verge above the river, and next thing we saw 8 ducklings rushing through the long grass trying to get down to the water.  Where they had nested we don’t know, but it could have been somewhere on the other side of the road in view of the anxiety to get to the river.

This morning, Sunday, at 7.30am two young deer were in the river just up-stream from here, whether simply drinking or looking for fresh grazing we do not know, but another new siting close to home.

We’ve seen the kingfisher this week – unusual at this time when they are normally much further up-stream.  Meanwhile the swans with their 5 cygnets are all happily swimming around up here, usually spending their nights on the opposite bank, and all seems well with their development after the loss of a single bird last weekend.

Best wishes – Philip Buddell

16-05-2020 Keith Littlejohns, Pieris rapae the Small White “Cabbage Butterfly”.

Photo: © Keith Littlejohns
A rather worse for wear Small White, Pieris rapae butterfly settled on a potato plant leaf in our garden. The small white will readily lay eggs on both cultivated and wild members of the brassica (cabbage) family and the resulting caterpillars are voracious devourers of the leaves often resulting in ruined crops. For small growing areas of brassicas, such as a back garden or allotment plot, a practical solution is to securely cage the crop with what is known as butterfly netting before the butterflies are around to lay their eggs. Once all incidence of flying cabbage white’s is over for the season it is safe to remove the netting for use again next season.

Keith Littlejohns

15-05-2020 Fred Taylor, Wildlife Seen in Village.

I don’t know if Philip Buddell has told there is a pair of Moorhens up by us that have 3 chicks, I don’t think they venture very far from where we are. I have been trying to get pictures of them, I will send them to you if I can get some.

Did I tell you that there has been a couple of Dippers that nest under the bridge somewhere, they have had chicks, not sure how many. We see them start quite early in the year and again later in the year. Apparently, Dippers will use the same nest for generations, they are very busy up and down the river, they are also interesting to watch when they are looking for food. I will try to get pictures of them to pass on to you.

Best wishes – Fred Taylor

10-05-2020 Swan Family photo by Fred Taylor at ‘The Old Post Office’ cottage near the bridge.

Photo: © Fred Taylor
We had a visit from the swans and their family on the Tresillian River behind the Old Post Office yesterday and I thought you might like these for the website. They were taken on my phone, when they come back I will try to get some with my camera. Nice to see 6 of the 9 eggs are doing well and being looked after by mom and dad.

Best wishes – Fred

04-05-2020 Philip Buddell, Update on Swans in Village.

The good news is that 6 eggs have hatched as of this morning; we know there are at least two still in the nest, and the pen appears to still want to continue incubating. The 6 cygnets went on an adventure at 9 am today but ended up in a trench from which neither they could escape nor their parents rescue them.  Linda managed to grab them one-by-one and return them to the surface, whereupon the young returned to the nest having had enough for one morning! The cygnets began hatching on Saturday, and we believe the 6th made it to the world yesterday afternoon.  Meanwhile all is peaceful once again.  More news as and when it happens.

Best wishes – Philip

02-05-2020 Philip Buddell, Wildlife Spotted in Village.

May 2nd is a great day for the river life of Tresillian. First this morning the resident house martins finally arrived along with a pair of swallows which haven’t resided here for the past 3 years. Already nest building is taking place. Then late this morning we noticed greater activity on the swans’ nest, and this afternoon we have so far counted 3 cygnets under the pen; she will continue sitting until all fertile eggs have been hatched which could take another 2/3 days. We will keep you informed and take some more photos when appropriate.

Best wishes – Philip

05-04-2020 Philip Buddell, First Swallow of Season Spotted in Village.

Yesterday, Saturday afternoon, 4th April, I saw the first swallow of the season flying up-stream past our home, no doubt on his/her way to points much farther north than Tresillian. Can’t recall having seen one of our African visitors here as early as this in the past, and he/she was no doubt carried along by the strong southerly winds emanating from North Africa and Spain.

Best regards – Philip

02-04-2020 Philip Buddell, Wildlife Spotted in Village.

We have seen a pink-footed goose wandering through with some 30 Canada geese during the past fortnight.  Je’s a handsome bird with distinct markings including an orange stripe across his beak and of course the noticeable pink legs and feet!  No doubt he will shortly move on to summer pastures in the tundra regions.

Swans are doing well, firmly entrenched on the 9 eggs.

Best wishes – Philip

29-03-2020 Keith Littlejohns, blackbirds nesting beside leat.

Photo: © Keith Littlejohns

I discovered this blackbird nest only yesterday, 29th March whilst working in our back garden. It is very well camouflaged in the lichen encrusted branches of an of an old damson tree on the opposite bank of the leat that runs along the bottom of our garden. The position is excellent being not only well hidden but also several feet above ground and hanging over the water below. Safe and secure enough from predatory large birds and prowling domestic moggies.

Blackbirds (males are black, females are brown) feed on insects and earthworms taken from the ground either by probing the ground, such as a lawn, and can often be seen having a tug of war with the odd earthworm from ours. They will also noisily turn over leaf litter with their bill foraging for worms and insects that take their gastronomic fancy. Our garden is on the edge of deciduous woodland, where many birds have an abundance of natural foods to choose from.

Cotoneaster berries and windfall fruits such as apples provide blackbirds with a valuable source of food come autumn. They also ground feed on fallen scraps under our bird feeding station.

Our native blackbirds are mostly resident all year round, with numbers in winter being swelled by their cousins migrating from Scandinavia and northern Europe.

Breeding usually starts in March. The smooth, glossy eggs are light greenish-blue with reddish-brown spots, and approximately 29 mm by 22 mm. The female incubates the eggs by herself. She can lay 2-3 clutches of 3-5 eggs. Incubation takes from 10-19 days. After the young hatch, they are fed by both parents.

The blackbird’s beautiful, mellow song is one of the loveliest of all songbirds and a delight to the ear.

I needed to use a long lens because the best, and least disturbing for the birds, vantage point was some 12m-15m away. Although I think this male blackbird had his sharp beady eye firmly fixed on me.

Hope you enjoyed the photo and information – Keith

29-03-2020 Philip Buddell, swans nesting on Tresillian River bank.

Photo: © Philip Buddell

While the pen was having a feed at the foot of our slipway yesterday, Sunday, afternoon, I made a brief trip to the nest where she has started incubating and counted 9 eggs, so a good clutch this year which we will do all we can to help them be successful. It will be some 6 weeks before we see any cygnets.

I do hope your followers will enjoy this continuing story. More will follow as the incubation proceeds.

Best wishes – Philip

25-03-2020 Philip Buddell, swans nesting on Tresillian River bank.

Photo: © Philip Buddell

Amidst all the depression of the news and coronavirus, it is heartwarming to find nature still giving us enormous pleasure and so much for which to be thankful!

Opposite our home the swans, Elizabeth and Philip, the queen and her consort, have taken up residence by a hedge at the back of the riverside meadow, where Linda and I have provided them with two small hay bales and more recently a half bale of straw with which to build their nest.  There was previously a decided lack of nesting material, though for once the site they have chosen will be above spring high tide levels and there is every chance on success with incubation.  Presently the queen is still laying her eggs.  I counted six 3 days ago, and I feel sure more have since been laid though I do not want to disturb her to find the current number.  I’ll discover more with discrete site visits during the coming days.  The pen really does look like a queen on her throne, hence we thought Elizabeth and Philip most appropriate!

I do hope your followers will enjoy this snap.  More will follow as the incubation proceeds.

Best wishes – Philip

29-01-2020 Some lovely photos by Fred Taylor at ‘The Old Post Office’ cottage near the bridge. Taken over the last few years.

Kingfisher, Tresillian River taken from cottage garden.

Swan and cygnets, Tresillian River taken from cottage garden.

Egret, tidal Tresillian River.

Damselfly, Tresillian River taken from cottage garden.
All Photos: © Fred Taylor