When I last wrote, the pheasant was still on the nest and we were eagerly awaiting the first sight of the chicks. That weekend, there was a big wedding celebration in the field next to the vegetable garden and we decided to stay away. Typically, when we went to the garden again, only a day later, the nest was empty with no pheasant and no chicks to be seen.
It’s difficult to say if all the chicks hatched and some of the shells were trampled in the process, or if some were predated but, as there were only a few broken shells left in the nest, it seems clear that most of them got away. A neighbour said she had spotted a pheasant with chicks in a nearby lane, so maybe that was them.
Back in the ornamental garden and the lily beetles (Lilioceris lilii) are doing their work. Both the adults and the larvae eat the foliage of lily plants, as well as Cardiocrinum and fritillaries, and can chew through the lot in a short time. The bright red adults are easy to spot, though not easy to catch because they drop off the leaf as soon as you touch the plant. I’ve found it easiest to hold a trowel under the leaf and catch them in that. Then I squash them or, depending on how squeamish I feel, put them in the green composting bin and shut the lid.