Monday, 7 September 2009

Birds and Butterflies - summer's end

Our swifts left a couple of weeks ago, despite one year recently staying into September. We had a lovely summer of watching their aerobatics over our roofs. (Though less pleasing is the fact that our roofer who had assured us he would fit the swift nestbox for free, walked off with said nestbox and won't reply to my emails).

We don't usually see swallows near where we live, but this year I saw one up the road in a carpark of all places and we've seen a few over the canal. But fewer of them where we would expect to see them in the fields.....

This has been a year of seeing lots of blackcaps - a bird I usually hear a lot, and what a beautiful song it has, but normally I don't see them very often. The blackcap is traditionally a summer bird but is overwintering in the UK more and more.

The cuckoo is struggling in large parts of the UK, but when we were in Skye the air echoed with their song and I even saw two of them!

I've not read any conservation overview of how butterflies have done this year, but personally I've never seen so many for years. Comma butterflies by the Water of Leith, a gathering of peacocks in a patch of thistles, more small coppers than I've ever seen in one place and fields shimmering with hundreds of white butterflies.

Today when I walked along the Water of Leith, it actually felt more like summer, the sun was bright (apart from the sudden five minute shower) and the birds were singing. But it was the twittering of winter tit and finch flocks gathering and the robin's sad autumnal song.

I'm looking forward to the winter thrushes arriving and looking around at rowan trees heavy with bright berries, I'm hoping for the waxwings to appear this year, though they are very unpredictable!

22 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting post Juliet - so different from here. Our swifts went weeks ago and we have had a bumper crop of swallows. As regards butterflies we have hardly seen any - even my buddleia was empty of them. Yes - here the tits have flocked already and like you we are eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the fieldfares and redwings - although we have very scant berries this year so there will not be a lot for them to eat.

Michelle Johnson said...

I haven't seen many butterflies here in the Maysville area but when I go hiking out of town I can find them everywhere. at least I know they're still around. have a great day.

I've been behind on my commenting lately and thought I'd leave you a note that I've commented on other posts below this one.

bunnygirl said...

How nice that you get so many birds where you live! One of the things I dislike about urban living is the lack of wildlife diversity. On my father's property in New Mexico, he has noted well over 50 different types of birds.

Your winter blog header is taunting me, btw. No winter here until December, if then. :(

Elizabeth M Rimmer said...

Butterflies here have been really poor, in spite of my wildlife-friendly planting. I guess they have just been intimidated by all the rain!

steven said...

hello juliet, i didn't see many butterflies through this summer but happily i did see lots of frogs and toads!! chipmunks, squirrels, groundhogs, canada geese, crows, blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, dogs, cats, caterpillars, and the odd person - usually very odd! thanks for the lovely end-of-summer post. steven

Jasmine said...

I love reading about the nature near your home. I used to live in Leith for a short while many years ago. I pay much more attention to birds these days.

Pomona said...

We have had lots and lots of butterflies here - I have a wildflower meadow in the front garden, and lots of butterfly-friendly plants - you might have seen my blog post about this. I was looking at the swallows last night - I think they will be heading off any moment.

Pomona x

Gołębnik said...

I’m looking forward to all the winter geese arriving, too, and the swans: last year I saw a flock of whooper swans serenely swimming on Threipmuir Reservoir. The geese aren’t so attractive in themselves, but are impressive in their numbers. I think they said on the Aberlady goosewatch that they have thirty thousand roosting there each night, flying in at dusk from all over the Lothians.

mel u said...

I live in a totally urban setting-years ago I lived by the ocean and I miss seeing the beautiful sea birds

Michael said...

Not read much recently myself about butterfly numbers. They were saying a few months back that it was going to be the worst year for UK butterflies for a quarter of a century. I've seen quite a few butterflies but not a great deal of variety. Looks like two bad years in a row for insects all round.

Eryl Shields said...

I feel so unlearned: I'd never even heard of a blackcap for example.

Annette F. Tait said...

Juat a few days ago I saw what I presumed to be were Swifts - and they must have been migrating - I am pretty positive they were not swallows. I do know the difference and was rather surprised when I decided that they were indeed swifts. They were feeding on the air and flying in a group together rather high up.
Norway is filled with fieldfares and redwing - I saw plenty in July - what very handsome birds they are - though I have yet to see them here.
Love reading about your birds!

Rabbits' Guy said...

Yes - flocking birds about here too. Heard the first Stellar Jay of autumn today - they will be scolding for peanuts at the feeder!

People around here are very active at being sure their yards and gardens are conducive to wildlife - many proudly display a sign of certification as a "Backyard Habitat."

Selma said...

We have had lots and lots of swallows this year. I saw two baby ones sitting on the fence in the park the other day and fell in love instantly. We've also had tree martins. So cute!

Deb G said...

It's going to be a beautiful day here, but cool. It happened so fast this year....

I'm thinking about shifting patterns of where birds and butterflies (and other animals) might live.

Janice Thomson said...

The Vaux swifts are now in migration here - it's the only time we see them. The butterflies were not so plentiful this year as we had such a drought resulting in fewer flowers. The geese are hitting the skies so Autumn is quickly approaching as noted by the changing leaf colours.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Weaver - funny how different it is when we're not that far apart really...

Michelle - thanks for all your comments!

bunnygirl - yes a lot of urban areas have lost most of their birds, we're lucky in Edinburgh...

Elizabeth - yes the rain's not good for them, I'm suprised to have seen so many myself...

steven - that's a good list...

Jasmine - thanks

Pomona - thanks for lettimng me know about your lovely butterfly post!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Golebnik - yes geese are at their most impressive when they're in flight, though last year I saw fields of geese, which were very appealing somehow...

Michael - yes I'd heard it was going to be a bad year for butterflies too, maybe I was just lucky...

Crafty Green Poet said...

Eryl - I'm sure you've heard a blackcap sing though...

Annette - just a few days ago, oh I wish ours had stayed that long...

Rabbits Guy - that's cool that people are so keen on making their yards into wildlife habitats...

Selma - that's sweet...

Janice - the butterflies don't like the drought anymore than they like too much rain...

Kay said...

Wonderful account of beauty and nature's beauty on the other side of the world from me. Thank you. :)

Deb said...

So nice to read your updates. The birds are all delightful. Our butterflies seem to be of the same quantity, I did think we had more bees (all sort so of them from tiny to bumbles.) Hope you trip to see your folks is lovely.

Cathy said...

I enjoyed your posting about the birds Juliet. I haven't heard a cuckoo for several years now. So sad as I used to really enjoy listening to them. We get lots of swallows and swifts flying around in the summer. Since we had another bird table we have a bumper crop of sparrows and starlings which are also getting a bit uncommon these days. We even have the odd green woodpecker and jays sometimes.

I agree about the butterflies. They seem to have had an amazing year and we have had lots of bees on our alliums too. I do worry about the wildlife in our country though. Even the grey squirrel is supposed to be at risk now.

I hope you had a nice time for your parents 50th. I love to hear about long lived marriages. My parents next one is their 68th.