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Miranda Hodgson

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Apples for blackbirds and an update on the wasps

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 05 Jul 2010 at 10:01 AM

I keep bits of food in my gardening bag – apples, cereal bars, biscuits – and they mingle with the tools. Accidents happen; one of the apples got speared on the little gardening fork, a fork covered in soil. It had also been bruised and didn’t look very appetising anymore, so I cut it in half and put it out for the blackbirds (Turdus merula).

 

 

Blackbirds adore apples and there is a particular pleasure to be had from watching the obvious relish with which they eat them, making a little jump and then pecking enthusiastically at the sweet fruit. It is especially pleasant to put out old apples for them before any fruit has ripened in the garden, so young birds can get their first taste of this lovely fruit. An over-soft or bruised apple, cut in half and left under a shrub, will be gone in a short time.

Some hours after putting out the stabbed and bruised apple, I noticed that it had been already pecked to the skin, so decided to have a little experiment. I cut a fresh apple in half, ate half myself and put the other half next to the remains of the old one. Then I went out for a few hours (at 11:40am). When I got home, at 4:30pm, the old piece was all but gone and the new one had been pecked out. All that remained this morning was a shell of peel.

 

 

 

Wasp update


They’re still building (compare with the pictures from last week), though the numbers of wasps don’t seem to have increased. The picture below was taken on the 4th of July and you can see the dark lines where the newly added material is still damp. The wasps mix the chewed wood with saliva and I do wonder how they manage to generate enough spit to keep making the building paste.

 

 

 

Zooming in on one photo, the pattern on one wasp’s body was fairly clear and, going from the guide on this page, I believe that these are common wasps, Vespula vulgaris, and that this one is a male.

 

 

Apologies for the fuzzy picture, it was taken from several feet away. 

Comments

richardpeeej said:

Very interesting pictures of the eaten apples, wasp and wasp nest Miranda. Good advice about putting the apples under a shrub where the blackbirds can get some protection. It is clear for all to see that you look after your wildlife very well no matter what it is. We very rarely have any rotten apples as fruit is eaten very quicky here. Sometimes we have a black banana or two but Cheryl makes banana bread with those, the blacker the better!

on 05 Jul 2010 at 11:11 AM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thanks, Richard! We don't have a lot of rotten apples, either, except for the ones that get mangled in my bag or forgotten in the car. My neighbour said she put out an apple yesterday to see what happened and she was very pleased to see that it had all gone a few hours later, neatly pecked to the peel.

on 07 Jul 2010 at 11:42 AM

pushkin said:

Interesting post Miranda.  I didn't know that some birds will eat apples.  I put a sweet potato to sprout on the windowsill, once rooted I planted it out--but no deep enough.  It was eaten, and the peck marks of beaks were very clear.  I put my banana peels and old bananas around the rose bushes, I read somewhere that they are nutritious, for roses.

on 07 Jul 2010 at 11:54 AM

Miranda Hodgson said:

I wonder which bird it was that ate your sweet potato, pushkin? Birds seem to like all fruit - a while back, I put out a mango stone with some fruit left on it and it was pecked clean in no time!

There is a discussion on roses and banana skins here that you may find interesting:

mygarden.rhs.org.uk/.../49504.aspx

on 12 Jul 2010 at 04:45 PM

July 2010 Rusty Blackbird Sightings | Rusty Blackbird said:

Pingback from  July 2010 Rusty Blackbird Sightings | Rusty Blackbird

on 19 Jul 2010 at 03:56 AM