What to look out for in your garden - late May

Foxglove

Take a careful look in your wildlife friendly garden or while out exercising, you may find more than you were expecting. From tiny crickets to beautiful damselflies, spring, and the promise of warmer weather, could well be transforming the garden, parks and countryside around you.

Keep an eye out for fledglings

As spring trundles on, now is the time of year when you might see young birds that have just left their nests. These scruffy fledglings are only just starting to feed themselves and still can’t fly very well, so are at their most vulnerable. You can sometimes spot them being fed by their parents, but most of the time they will be hiding away from predators in bushes and trees gradually learning how to fend for themselves.

Blackbird fledgling

A Blackbird fledgling

Grasshoppers and crickets

Tiny creatures are often the most difficult to spot but can be the most fulfilling to find. Look out for tiny grasshoppers crawling and jumping from stem to stem in flower beds and grassy areas, and if you’re lucky you may even spot a Speckled bush cricket nymph on slightly taller perennials and bushes. At only 7-8mm long these green-speckled crickets aren’t easy to see, but you might just catch a glimpse of their speckled body and unfeasibly long legs and antennae. It’s hard to believe they will grow to nearly 20mm by July.

Speckled bush cricket nymph

A Speckled bush cricket nymph

The Large red damselfly

If you have a pond in your garden, or one nearby, look out for the Large red damselfly. This is one of the first damselflies to emerge in spring, often seen from late March. The male is quite easy to identify from his red body and black legs, but the female can range from being mainly red to mainly black. Both males and females hold their wings along their body while stationary (unlike dragonflies that hold their wings out to the side), and you will often see them sitting on bushes and plants in gardens with some water, waiting to snatch small insects from nearby vegetation.

Large red damselfly (male)

Large red damselfly (male)

Foxgloves come into flower

Foxgloves are just starting to flower. Their long elegant flower stems are one of the highlights of spring, not just for us but also for their main pollinator, the bumblebee. Once a bumblebee lands at the entrance it squeezes down the tube to gather sweet nectar at the end, the reproductive parts of the flower are on the roof of the tube, and, as the bee brushes past the stamen, pollen is deposited on its back. If the bumblebee is already covered in pollen from another foxglove this is brushed onto the stigma, completing pollination. Smaller insects are less likely to be able to help with pollination, due to their size, so they are deterred from entering the flower by a mass of fine guard hairs. 

Foxglove

Foxglove

Enjoy your wildlife watching

Enjoy your wildlife watching this week but above all make time to marvel at the wildlife. Take a break, sit in the sunshine and just watch. Even if only for a few minutes.