I undertook a bit of a back garden safari on Day 11. The wildlife in my garden is concentrated in our meadow patch, an area of about 4m by 5m which was a traditional lawn a few years ago.
At this time of year the ox-eye daisy is the most obvious plant in flower, but for sheer number the lesser stitchwort would win, others are cat’s ear, buttercups and bloody cranesbill. Some years ago I scattered a little seed of grass vetchling, but had never seen any come up, so I was surprised to find a few in flower. As is often the way once I had seen these few, I spotted several more, evidently it had grown but I had just missed it.
grass vetchling flower
A key species in most meadows is yellow rattle, it is a partial parasite, often of grasses and reducing the vigour of the grass is key to establishing lots of other species. My yellow rattle has not germinated as well as usual this year, but I still have a good few in flower now.
My local grasslands, where not heavily improved, have lots of corky-fruited water dropwort and I was keen to get it growing in my garden, so I grew a few from seed and now have several well established plants that are seeding for themselves.
Swollen thighed beetle on corky-fruited water dropwort flower
The meadow attracts lots of insects and the addition of a tiny pond has expanded the list of species significantly. Water attracts damselflies and we have several of the common species now including the large red damselfly, typically the first to emerge.
large red damselfly
I did venture out for a bit in the afternoon for a short walk in the New Forest. Shortly after leaving the car I was surprised to hear a nightjar churring, they don’t often do this in broad daylight, although I have heard them do so before. Soon after I came across a newly fledged brood of redstart, one of the special birds of the Forest.
On the open heaths the heath spotted orchid are starting to flower, similar to the common spotted orchid, but typically shorter and overall a smaller plant, they can be very abundant especially on the slightly damper heaths.
heath spotted orchid
In some of the wetter hollows on the heaths that are now drying again after May’s rain there are patches of the once very rare, coral necklace, it seems to be increasing, although still restricted to these seasonal pools and larger puddles.