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Miranda Hodgson

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Young wrens in the garden, ladybird hiding places and we bid farewell to the wasps

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 16 Aug 2010 at 11:25 AM

Sitting in the living room the other day, I heard a loud and insistent cheeping through the window that looks on to the courtyard. It sounded close, so I got up to look; there, in the branches of the little witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) just outside, two baby wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) were hopping up and down a stem, whilst a parent bird was feeding them as fast as it could with spiders and flies. From the witch hazel, they moved to a potted Acer, then back to the witch hazel, down to the ground and through the border that runs along the path to the door. Back and forth between the plants, under and over the garden bench, moving so fast and cheeping non-stop. In the kitchen later on, I heard the same cheeping coming from the garden and saw them in the big magnolia tree. This went on for a week and then suddenly stopped, so I’m guessing that the young wrens can now feed themselves. They’re fascinating little birds - tiny, fast and generally secretive and yet they will sing more boldly and with more volume than almost any other song bird. I hope they stay around.

Elsewhere in the garden, ladybirds have started looking for winter quarters and I’m seeing them in unusual places again, even though autumn has only just begun. It is at this time of the year that you’ll often find them in seed heads or tucked into crevices in fences or walls. This latest one was in the gap in a clothes peg left on a section of plastic netting.



I’m sorry to report that the wasps’ nest appears to have met an untimely end, although it would have been abandoned in autumn anyway. It had been quiet for a while, so I felt encouraged to brave a closer look without being chased away this time. Not sure what happened, but there is a hole in the side of the nest and it has been suggested that the likely culprit is a woodpecker, who would have made a hole through the side of the nest in order to reach the wasps and larvae inside. I expect it had a good meal! Once we are sure that any remaining wasps have gone, it will be interesting to have a closer inspection.




More on wrens


pushkin said:

What variety of magnolia is that?  Superb tree.  And I love the ladybird picture.  As usual, a very interesting post.

on 16 Aug 2010 at 12:35 PM

asj said:

Your posts are always fascinating, Miranda. The ladybird pic is quite surreal, and the wasps' nest menacing!!

Did you manage any shots of the baby wrens?

on 16 Aug 2010 at 01:43 PM

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on 16 Aug 2010 at 04:16 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thanks, pushkin. I think it's Magnolia x soulangeana. It is a beautiful tree and gives wonderful shade in summer.

asj, the nest isn't half as menacing as it was when it was full of wasps! :-) I didn't take any pictures of the wrens this time. Almost reached for the camera a few times, but then decided to just enjoy them.

on 16 Aug 2010 at 04:42 PM

richardpeeej said:

Very interesting write as usual Miranda. I noticed a lot of ladybirds in the garden today -so many of them on the runner. bean plants. Will the wasps come back again next year to the same nest Miranda or will it be abandoned?

on 16 Aug 2010 at 09:51 PM

EvaInNL said:

5* article yet again Miranda!

Not sure if I'm just looking out for them more after reading your blog or if ladybug numbers are actually on the increase this year. Hopefully the latter!

on 17 Aug 2010 at 05:00 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Richard, that nest won't be used again, but it's possible the wasps will use the shed again next year and if we were to remove this one, they might build the next one in the same place.

Eva, I think there are a lot more ladybirds this year than last. Sometimes I've had to be careful not to step on them!

on 22 Aug 2010 at 04:20 PM

richardpeeej said:

Thanks for the answer Miranda..hope you are well ;-)

on 22 Aug 2010 at 08:25 PM