Links | Contact Us | Accessibility | About Us   

Spring Diary 2020 - Garden Wildlife

(Click on the images for a larger picture.
If you are viewing Country Eye on a Smartphone or Tablet the page layout may not be as intended, please see Accessibility . )

Self-isolation does not stop you enjoying the countryside. In fact, providing you are well, the fresh air, exercise and mental stimulation that the countryside provides all have health benefits.

Dog Violets
If you are not well enough to go out or are locked down, then even a small garden is full of wildlife. As spring progresses and plants and insects emerge, the wealth and beauty of nature is for all to behold.

Lesser Celandine

We have a relatively large garden which we manage to enhance its' wildlife value. Some wildflowers native to the garden are in bloom as I write. Carpets of yellow Lesser Celandine and clusters of purple Early Dog Violets; weeds to some but not to us! We have also introduced some native wildflowers and Primroses that have been in flower for some weeks have now been joined by the first Cowslips. Our flowers are already being visited by prospecting queen bumblebees and butterflies.

Migrant birds are returning to our shores. I heard the disyllabic song of the Chiffchaff in a garden in our village on March 17th and one appeared in our own garden on the 20th of March. An easy song to learn as it sings its name.

Not a migrant and much rarer is the sparrow sized Lesser Spotted Woodpecker singing in a high tree a few hundred metres from my home. I have yet to add it to my garden list! Its more common cousins; Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers are frequent visitors to my garden.


Sparrowhawks are regular visitors to my garden and are sometimes successful at taking birds. The male is smaller than the female and will take birds up to the size of a blackbird, whereas the female is much larger and seems to prefer pigeons and collared doves. One of my friends reported that he had seen a Sparrowhawk take a crow! Anyway, the size difference enables the pair to occupy the same territory without directly competing with one another. A lot of people get upset when Sparrowhawks kill birds in their garden - especially when they have been feeding them, but in my experience domestic cats kill far more birds and unlike Sparrowhawks, they don't need to kill birds to survive and feed their young.

Frogs spawning

One of our three, small garden ponds, was positively "boiling" with frogs. Within a few days of them arriving in numbers we had large clumps of spawn. Most of the frogs departed as quickly as they arrived.


I have seen several bees already, mainly prospecting queen bumblebees and on a sunny 23rd of March a gorgeous Brimstone and a Small Tortoiseshell were on the wing; the latter having probably emerged from hibernation in somebodies garden shed. Brimstones are usually the earliest to appear, but Small Tortoiseshells,

Small Tortoiseshell
Peacocks and even Red admirals often hibernate, so it may be worth checking that they can get out of your shed.

Mammals are also well represented in many gardens. Grey Squirrels are abundant and unwelcome guests in my garden. Look out for Muntjac, Hedgehogs and as the weather warms up, the first bats of the year.

Ian Misselbrook
April 2020


© All Images are the copyright of Ian Misselbrook. For further information, please

Some text may be lost if you are viewing with a low screen resolution - click here for more info