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Frogspawn and A Wood Mouse!

I hope you've had a good week! Here's our first update for you, but just to get you up to speed if this is your first visit to the website. We're doing a mega garden wildlife challenge to raise money for A Rocha. Our aim is to try and see 400 species of creatures in the garden by the end of the year! A Rocha are an international Christian conservation charity and are devoted to caring for God's creation. We're supporting two of their brilliant projects from throughout the world, both of which are based in Africa. One is a tortoise rehabilitation centre helping illegally captured tortoises back into the wild in South Africa. The other is a project providing "sack gardens" to communities in Uganda, training people to grow vegetables, while teaching them how to protect and care for the natural world. For more information check out my previous blog post!

Our garden count so far is 82 overall with 45 Birds, 5 Bees, Wasps and Ants, 8 Moths, 6 Other Insects, 4 Arachnids, 11 Other Invertebrates, 1 Amphibian and 2 Mammals. To find the full list and the previous years head to the Species Tally Page. The highlights of the last week or so have been Red Kite, Hairy-footed Flower Bee, Spring Usher moth, Common Frog including frogspawn, and Wood Mouse.

The Red Kite was a good surprise and there were two together which was good to see. We don't see too many of them round here, but they're slowly increasing in number and these two were displaying which is really exciting because it's suggests they're a breeding pair. When they do their display flight they grab each other by the talons and acrobatically tumble trough the air which is a great sight. You can also see Common Buzzards do that sort of behaviour too, so keep your eyes peeled. Other birds of note have been Lapwing and Blackcap.

As I would expect we haven't seen many insects yet, because of the time of year, as its too cold still. However, there are exceptions like the Spring Usher Moth and Hairy-footed Flower Bee. The Hairy-footed Flower bee is especially adapted to emerge earlier than other species. As it's name suggests, they are hairy, designed to keep them warm at this earlier time of year! By emerging earlier they avoid competition from other bees. The reason for the hairy feet is for courtship, the males wave their feet at the females to attract them! Maybe they should be called Hobbit bees!! They look a bit like miniature Bumblebees, the males are gingery brown & the females are black & slightly larger. https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/hairy-footed-flower-bee-anthophora-plumipes The Spring Usher Moth also emerges earlier than many other moths and they have some of the best camouflage in the animal kingdom. We were pleased to see one in the moth trap. https://ukmoths.org.uk/species/agriopis-leucophaearia (I will tell you more about the moth trap soon).

Probably the most exciting highlight for us has been seeing a Wood Mouse and the arrival of lots of frogspawn! Both arrived at night, the frogspawn was suddenly there one morning & we then heard the frogs over several more nights adding to it. Setting up the camera trap to try & see the frogs laying the spawn had the bonus of us seeing the Wood Mouse too! In the video you can clearly see the Wood Mouse, but if you look very carefully you can see the frog drop it's head into the water around the middle of the picture.

I have also had a go at photographing the frogspawn with my Macro lens & the detail is incredible. I think it's a real wonder of God's creation!

I hope you've enjoyed my first update, I wonder what my highlights will be next time!? If you have any questions or have seen anything you want to share do add a comment, I'd love to hear from you!

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