July continued with the same warm, sunny weather we had experienced at the end of June without a cloud in the sky. All over the country hot, dry weather was the norm and this inevitably had an effect on the wildlife in the garden here. Many young birds from second broods came to feed in the garden, especially blue tits, coal tits and great tits, and young chaffinches and goldfinches were also plentiful. Down at the wildlife pond the mallard ducklings continued to grow.
Butterflies were especially plentiful this month with large numbers of a wide range of species. Green-veined whites were very common and there were plenty of others including comma, small tortoiseshell, peacock, red admiral, painted lady and for a while a single dark green fritillary. Smaller species such as common blue and large skipper also began to appear in the mini-meadows, and meadow brown and ringlet were seen flitting over the long grasses in the orchard and big meadow. A single male brimstone was also seen feeding around the garden, especially on purple loosestrife flowers. Meadowsweet, lady’s bedstraw and wild carrot were in full flower.
Towards the end of the second week a male blackcap began to sing again but there was still no sign of chiff chaff or willow warbler. Two young song thrushes visited the garden on the 15th and two mistle thrushes were also seen this week but where larger bird species were concerned the garden at this time was dominated by a family of magpies that had bred nearby.
As we moved into the third week of July butterflies were plentiful with fifteen species recorded this week. Swifts, swallows and house martins swooped over the garden and a tawny owl was heard in the orchard on the evening of the 20th. Bullfinches were also heard, but not often seen, in our little copse of trees.
As we approached the end of the month there was still no sign of rain. Bumblebee numbers, which had been very low earlier, increased noticeably, especially feeding on the plants in the wildlife friendly borders, including Echinops and small flowered foxgloves. At the very end of the month a willow warbler was seen feeding on the tiny insects attracted to our buddleia bush - the first willow warbler seen or heard here for several years. This bird was soon joined by two young chiff chaffs and as the month ended, the buddleia became the focus of my wildlife watching with warblers, bumblebees, honeybees and eight regular butterfly species feeding from the flowers. With warm weather continuing I am hoping for even more species feeding on the flowers of this wonderful shrub.