© Mike Frisby - Langham in Rutland
Notes from a Field & Garden - October 2020
Once again the weather has been a series of contrasts. July seemed quite normal, the rainfall was about average, spread over the month and temperatures were also about average. Then at the end of the month we had some very hot days. August was a month of two halves, warm and dry for the first half, then cool and double the average rainfall in the second half. No wonder the garden plants don't seem to know where they are. One thing that does not seem have been affected by the weather is the number of insects and spiders in the field. Every day birds are busy working their way around the field pecking away at anything that moves. There must be thousands of tiny creatures that are constantly being replaced. The most common visitors are the jackdaws and it is not uncommon to see flocks of twenty or more all very busy. One day I surprised to see two white birds in the middle of the flock. At first I thought they might be albino jackdaws as they were quite happy within the flock but they turned out to be a pair if white doves! So far this has been their only appearance. The pair of crows are always around but they seem to have failed to breed this year as I have seen no youngsters. The rooks are rarer visitors but one day in July there were fifteen of them, both parents and their young. I haven't seen any rooks since. A few pigeons and magpies are always around. A green woodpecker can often be seen searching ants nests for its favourite food. Overhead buzzards and kites are frequent visitors. The tawny owls are still in the trees at the back of the house. The female continues to call with her familiar Ke-wick but the male has started to answer with a long rippling Hooooo rather than his usual Ho-Hoo. I was pleased to see a young thrush in the garden being fed by its parent. The adult bird was busy hammering a snail on a convenient stone to remove the shell before feeding it to the youngster. Sadly there have been no swallows nesting in the barn this year. Other sightings have been bullfinches feeding on honeysuckle berries, little egret and heron. Best of all a pair of kingfishers were seen flying along the brook. The buddleia bushes are almost finished flowering, but as usual they have been a magnet for butterflies. Incidentally I have just found out why buddleia is sometimes written with a j instead of the i. Apparently when Linnaeus named the plant the i was given a long tail and others mis- recorded it as a j. By convention the latin name uses the j as in Buddleja davidii while the common name uses the correct buddleia. The most common butterflies were the usual whites along with large numbers of tortoiseshells. Fewer in number were peacocks, red admirals, meadow browns, a few painted ladies and a single ringlet. There were plenty of speckled woods in Munday's Close. The buddleias also attracted large numbers of bumble bees although they seem to prefer the orange flowered one. I was sitting outside early one evening, everything was still and so quiet I became aware of a rasping sound. I tracked it down to some wood a few feet away and found a wasp busily collecting wood fibres. Amazing that it sounded quite so loud. This was not the only contact with wasps. I was sitting in the study and kept hearing a rustling noise similar to an insect caught in a lampshade. I couldn't find anything but I kept hearing it. Eventually I found that it seemed to be coming from the ceiling. Obviously not mice or squirrels at it remained in one place. Could it be a sparrow's nest? I went outside with the binoculars to look at the spot where they could get in and soon spotted the problem. Dozens of wasps were flying in and out. Noisy little things are these wasps. In the garden some plants have relished the weather conditions, others have not. The biggest disappointment has been the cannas. They started off really well but, despite watering, the dry spell didn't suit them. They hardly grew at all and still show no sign of flowering. On the other hand the sunflowers loved it and rocketed up. An old clematis gave up the ghost and left me with a vacant panel of trellis. Looking for something to cover it rapidly and flower late into the year I decided to try Cobaea scandens, the cup and saucer vine. Although a little late to sow the seeds they geminated rapidly and were soon ready to plant out. I planted two young plants by the trellis and after a short while they started to grow rapidly and soon reached the top of the trellis. I had chosen the white variety Cobaea scandens alba and the first flowers have now appeared. The flowers are large and bell shaped and quite impressive. I am going to grow it again next year. Normally it is treated as an annual and grown from seed each year but it is actually a perennial so I will leave the plants over winter to see if they survive. I am always interested in other people’s sightings and comments so don’t forget to email me .
Langham in Rutland
© Mike Frisby - Langham in Rutland
Once again the weather has been a series of contrasts. July seemed quite normal, the rainfall was about average, spread over the month and temperatures were also about average. Then at the end of the month we had some very hot days. August was a month of two halves, warm and dry for the first half, then cool and double the average rainfall in the second half. No wonder the garden plants don't seem to know where they are. One thing that does not seem have been affected by the weather is the number of insects and spiders in the field. Every day birds are busy working their way around the field pecking away at anything that moves. There must be thousands of tiny creatures that are constantly being replaced. The most common visitors are the jackdaws and it is not uncommon to see flocks of twenty or more all very busy. One day I surprised to see two white birds in the middle of the flock. At first I thought they might be albino jackdaws as they were quite happy within the flock but they turned out to be a pair if white doves! So far this has been their only appearance. The pair of crows are always around but they seem to have failed to breed this year as I have seen no youngsters. The rooks are rarer visitors but one day in July there were fifteen of them, both parents and their young. I haven't seen any rooks since. A few pigeons and magpies are always around. A green woodpecker can often be seen searching ants nests for its favourite food. Overhead buzzards and kites are frequent visitors. The tawny owls are still in the trees at the back of the house. The female continues to call with her familiar Ke-wick but the male has started to answer with a long rippling Hooooo rather than his usual Ho- Hoo. I was pleased to see a young thrush in the garden being fed by its parent. The adult bird was busy hammering a snail on a convenient stone to remove the shell before feeding it to the youngster. Sadly there have been no swallows nesting in the barn this year. Other sightings have been bullfinches feeding on honeysuckle berries, little egret and heron. Best of all a pair of kingfishers were seen flying along the brook. The buddleia bushes are almost finished flowering, but as usual they have been a magnet for butterflies. Incidentally I have just found out why buddleia is sometimes written with a j instead of the i. Apparently when Linnaeus named the plant the i was given a long tail and others mis-recorded it as a j. By convention the latin name uses the j as in Buddleja davidii while the common name uses the correct buddleia. The most common butterflies were the usual whites along with large numbers of tortoiseshells. Fewer in number were peacocks, red admirals, meadow browns, a few painted ladies and a single ringlet. There were plenty of speckled woods in Munday's Close. The buddleias also attracted large numbers of bumble bees although they seem to prefer the orange flowered one. I was sitting outside early one evening, everything was still and so quiet I became aware of a rasping sound. I tracked it down to some wood a few feet away and found a wasp busily collecting wood fibres. Amazing that it sounded quite so loud. This was not the only contact with wasps. I was sitting in the study and kept hearing a rustling noise similar to an insect caught in a lampshade. I couldn't find anything but I kept hearing it. Eventually I found that it seemed to be coming from the ceiling. Obviously not mice or squirrels at it remained in one place. Could it be a sparrow's nest? I went outside with the binoculars to look at the spot where they could get in and soon spotted the problem. Dozens of wasps were flying in and out. Noisy little things are these wasps. In the garden some plants have relished the weather conditions, others have not. The biggest disappointment has been the cannas. They started off really well but, despite watering, the dry spell didn't suit them. They hardly grew at all and still show no sign of flowering. On the other hand the sunflowers loved it and rocketed up. An old clematis gave up the ghost and left me with a vacant panel of trellis. Looking for something to cover it rapidly and flower late into the year I decided to try Cobaea scandens, the cup and saucer vine. Although a little late to sow the seeds they geminated rapidly and were soon ready to plant out. I planted two young plants by the trellis and after a short while they started to grow rapidly and soon reached the top of the trellis. I had chosen the white variety Cobaea scandens alba and the first flowers have now appeared. The flowers are large and bell shaped and quite impressive. I am going to grow it again next year. Normally it is treated as an annual and grown from seed each year but it is actually a perennial so I will leave the plants over winter to see if they survive. I am always interested in other people’s sightings and comments so don’t forget to email me .
Notes from a Field & Garden - October 2020
Langham in Rutland