Notes from a riverside garden May 2019
Our blog post today continues SB’s observations from her garden on the banks of the River Stour. There is plenty of new life in the garden….but predators are never far away!
I was walking through our vegetable garden when I heard a rustling ahead in the stand of dense bamboo beside the pergola path. I crept forward and saw a duck with a large brood of newly hatched ducklings all pushing their way through the bamboo heading towards the mill pond. Once they had safely made their way through I walked to a viewing area of the mill pond and saw the duck then making her way across the water with the brood closely following behind. There is a two foot sheer drop into the mill pond at the point she chose to access it. She was about halfway across the mill pond when I heard a plaintive, “cheep, cheep”, one of the ducklings had been left behind! The duck obviously heard this too and immediately stopped, turned around and the whole party paddled back to collect the straggler. Soon they were all heading off across the mill pond towards the island. We have not seen any of this brood since, it is a very tough world out there for the first broods of ducklings. The weather was cold and predators of ducklings abound.
We are always thrilled to hear the reed warblers singing their song around the garden. We eagerly await the first joyful notes emanating from the clumps of bamboo and denser thickets around the garden which heralds their arrival, this year it was on Easter Monday. It ranks with the sighting of the first swallow or hearing the cuckoo across the valley.
A hedgehog is visiting the feeding station near the house and taking regular drinks from the low dish of fresh water. We have a camera set up to take photos during the night of the area and we were so pleased when the disappearance of the hedgehog food could be verified as being eaten by a hedgehog. A neighbour’s cat is also partial to the tasty morsels so we needed the photographic evidence! Looking through the photos taken is fascinating as we had no idea the cat was a regular visitor, for example! Viewing the photos of the previous night recently we saw the hedgehog moving around the terrace and then, in the very last photo taken, a badger loomed. Badgers are well known as predators of hedgehogs! We then had the long anxious wait until the following morning to see whether the hedgehog was still with us, or not…………..!
The dish of water is used by many of the birds who come for food. The ducks dabble in it, the starlings have a bath and most also have a drink too. I change the water several times each day. The one footed robin I mentioned last month has successfully raised two youngsters who are now independent and are regular visitors to the bird table.
I have just seen what appears to be a large red damselfly resting on a rosebush. Sporting a vivid scarlet body it looked rather striking.
You may be wondering at the outcome of the arrival of the badger mentioned earlier. The hedgehog remains alive and well!