I've been sifting through the photos I've amassed over the past year just from my "patch", it was good to find quite a few highlights - my first nuthatch; first dipper; a chance to observe buzzards at much closer quarters than ever before; first rabbit and first shrew in the garden since we moved here; my first ever mole (albeit a dead one!) and, with more birds nesting in and around the garden, I've captured images of a feast (not literally, honest) of fledglings including swallow, blackbird, house sparrow, dunnock, wren, grey wagtails, great tits and coal tits. Then there's the ones I failed to get an image of like the song thrush even though they were nesting in our cotoneaster.
Unfortunately there are also some worrying absentees - no heron this year, no voles, no red squirrel (and thankfully no greys either), and no hedgehogs although the last we saw of them here was 19 years ago. Most concerning is the shortage of insects and invertebrates although I have had a few new ones to identify. I've spotted very few white butterflies this year although there were plenty of peacocks, red admirals, commas and small tortoiseshells. Moths generally have been very scarce both as adults and larvae. The last ladybird I saw, a 7 spot, was last Winter. Again, no larvae and the same goes for other beetles, bugs and diptera that have been familiar residents here for years. I hope this is not a trend which will continue next year.
New for this year for the birds on my patch is the parakeets that finally decided to come to the bird feeders hanging on my allotment instead of just flying overhead.
Amoungst the insects, newly recorded this year are Hornet impersonator Volucella zonaria, two Tachinid flies (Phasia hemiptera and Eriothrix rufomaculata) and the Woundwort Shield Bug Eysarcoris venustissimus.
Ladybirds seemed plentiful enough but I did not have time to make any count.
On the other side of the coin there has been a drastic reduction in hedgehogs and slowworms with both close to wipe out, although there is plenty of other places nearby where they could be hiding. More worrying to me is the sudden drop in butterflies and moths both in number of species and individual species count.
Also missing this year was the currant galls of oak and Robins pin cushion gall on roses. Leaf cutter bees and the Tree bumblebee were also missing this year in spite of being quite numerous last year.
My garden was definitely low on butterflies this year... I think I only saw one Red Admiral all summer, and very few of the small white butterflies that were quite plentiful last year. This in spite of a thriving buddleia bush which normally attracts quite a few.
We didn't do too bad for butterflies, more Small Coppers and Skippers than usual and a fair number of Whites etc , but hardly any Peacock butterflies at all, in fact I haven't seen many Peacocks all year in Derbyshire which is very unusual.
On the bird front things seem to have been quite good here, though the blue tits, Pied wagtails and the swallows failed at their first attempt. At the start of Spring there were more bumblebees than I have ever seen before and plenty of green-veined butterflies, then everything went pear shaped, nothing but rain and flooding so since have only seen a few very small buff tail bumbles, one peacock butterfly, one painted lady, and no greens, we had very few midge (nice)unfortunately after all the birds had nested/fledged there was then masses of insects. Although a bumper crop of beech masts and fir cones, nothing else fruited well, the raspberry fruit went black before ripening, there were no rowan berries (though outwith the area some of the trees did have fruit). Very surprised at how few slugs there are (normally hundreds). The birds have all been going manic at the bird feeders. Seen very few moths and for the first time my veg have not been attacked by caterpillars or slugs - that is a first! However everything bolted in the short spell of good weather we had, so ended up with no green veg this year. The bank voles have had a bad time, the main area for them has been under water for most of the Spring/Autumn. they have slowly progressed up to the high area, but I think a lot of their young may have drowned (not good for the tawny owl or buzzard, in fact not seen my tawny owl since middle of Spring). Seems I have been getting very worried on and off all year.