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Miranda Hodgson

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Watching the decay of the wasps’ nest

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 18 Oct 2010 at 02:00 PM

Looking around to see what activity has been going on is one of my favourite things to do when I first arrive at the vegetable garden. I go round all the beds and stare at the vegetables and soil, count the holes where tunnels have been dug or where hoof prints have been left, analyse droppings to identify what left them (hedgehogs - hurrah!), have a quick scout through the hedgerow to find hollows in the grass at the base, where foxes or deer have bedded. As the leaves drop, old nests will gradually reveal themselves and once again I’ll see where the blackbird laid her eggs back in April and the space at the base of the wall where the pheasant made her nest and where the young ones left the nest before we saw them.

The blackbird on her nest in April


There isn’t as much wildlife activity now as earlier in the year, but there are still things to look out for and it’s interesting to see what creatures are still about. Right now, I don’t really want to dwell on the nest of rats we found in one of the compost bays, or the fact that someone left the garden gate open and the muntjacs got in – again - and took big bites out of the last of the courgettes. Or the jackdaws that chase the smaller birds away from the food I put out. Or the hundreds of empty cherry stones that we found in a cavity of the car engine.



This muntjac didn't even run away when it saw me, it just stared.


On the arrival at the garden, the first thing I wanted to see was how the wasps’ nest is decaying. It is really falling apart now, and there is a new hole above the one that was made earlier. There is also a growing layer of what looks almost like brown confetti on the shed floor beneath the nest. I’d love to know for sure what creature has been excavating – is it really a woodpecker? A mouse?



 The wasps' nest in October


It’s been fascinating to watch that nest this year, from its first beginnings, when it was the size of an apple, to the crumbling remains seen now. It won’t be used again, of course, but it’s possible that wasps will make a new nest elsewhere in the shed next year and I’ll have new opportunities for being chased by guard wasps and the wasps will, for a time, clean the garden of many pests.



When I first started photographing it in early June.


pushkin said:

Love the nesting blackbird.  I have to ask, where did all the cherry stones come from?  And is the car driveable?

on 18 Oct 2010 at 02:37 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Yes, the car was fine, pushkin. It was just that a mouse had used part of the engine for storage! I mentioned it here: - so glad we actually lifted the bonnet before taking the car in...

on 18 Oct 2010 at 03:15 PM

sue1002 said:

You will have to put a video camera in the shed to see what's been having a go at the wasp's nest, I'd love to know too.

on 18 Oct 2010 at 05:38 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Don't have one, but I'll see if anyone's got one I can borrow, Sue. It would be good to know.

on 19 Oct 2010 at 08:15 AM

Susiq said:

I'd like to know too - very intruiging! We've had a woodpecker back again lately, so it may well be one of your prime suspects! Lovely pictures again.

on 19 Oct 2010 at 03:05 PM

richardpeeej said:

It was interesting to see the birth of the wasp nest Miranda and then its demise. I really enjoy reading your accounts Miranda, it is clear to see ho much you enjoy keeping an eye on nature and wildlife..

on 19 Oct 2010 at 09:24 PM

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on 19 Oct 2010 at 11:37 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

I shall be keeping a watch whenever we're at the garden, I really want to know!

Thanks, Richard, I do enjoy it very much indeed :-)

on 20 Oct 2010 at 01:21 PM