My interest in recording the incredible diversity of insects in my 40 year old edible forest garden lead to a much better understanding of the importance of different key species for the biological diversity present in the garden and the goat willow (selje) is perhaps the most important species of all despite the fact it is only a very marginal edible plant for us. I was aware of the importance of the nectar provided by willow to bumble bees and wild bees in the spring, but I was totally unaware earlier of the importance of this tree for moths emerging as adults in mid-April. I have so far recorded over 30 species of moth which are dependent on willow either in spring or in the larval stage (see the amazing diversity of the moths photographed in the garden in the picture at the bottom. However, this also explains the arrival of the chiffchaff (gransanger) and other migratory species in a wave in the middle of April here…arriving to a ready supply of insect food. The videos show our chiffchaff insect catching up amongst the catkins of one of the goat willows in the garden on 21st April, often singing as he hunts. Another fascination I’ve had for many years is the incredible complexity and beauty of bird song when slowed down (like a sound microscope; after hearing a BBC radio program about this and particularly the song of the wren: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9x2rjExeW8). The second video is of the chiffchaff at normal and 10% speed as it hunts amongst willow catkins. The third video is also slowed down and shows a singing flycatching chiffchaff and a bumble bee flies past at the end (see at full screen)!
It’s always a surprise when I’m woken to the song of a wren (gjerdesmett) in the garden at this time of year. This is not only the second smallest bird in Norway, but along with the smallest bird goldcrest (fuglekonge) they rely almost only on natural food and don’t come to bird feeders. It’s been a relatively snow rich winter with stable conditions over long periods, but somehow this bird has made it through the winter. There have been reports of wrens regularly through the winter in this area, so it’s likely that it has overwintered (some of the local population migrate to milder areas in western Europe). I haven’t heard them in the daytime yet this year, so it’s probably spending the night in one of the bird boxes in the garden and finding food elsewhere!
I hadn’t seen a wren (gjerdesmett) in the garden for a couple of weeks, so it was nice to see one today foraging outside the kitchen. Luckily there’s some snow-free patches near the fjord which will help them find food during the next 4 days of sub-zero temperatures, day and night!
I always dreamed of working in a botanical garden and somehow my wish has come true only 7 months after retiring from job as an ocean wave climatologist!
Even better, I can come and go as I wish (more or less)…I now have an office where I will be able to document and tend (in summer) my onion garden, as visiting researcher :)
…and the staff are lovely people too :)
090118: Wren foraging and joined by a second bird120118: It’s quite a few years I’ve seen two-barred crossbill (båndkorsnebb), but then I’ve never deliberately sought them out at Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim which, because of its collection of conifers, is one of the best places to see this species, the less common of the 3 crossbills here…only one female with a single common or parrot crossbill…
090118: Wrens (gjerdesmett):
120118: What are these redpolls (gråsisik) feeding on?:
I’m full of hope!
The autumn songs of the European robin (rødstrupe), heard in the video from the garden this morning and wren (gjerdesmett) always puts me in a good frame of mind despite everything
It’s still very mild here and still no proper frost (just a slight ground frost one morning) and no frost forecast either in the next 10 days! Just as well as I’ve hardly started harvesting and preparing for winter! On my bike ride to town yesterday I heard 4 singing robins, and in Bakklandet (central Trondheim) a singing wren on my way into town and with the full moon accompanying me on the way home, all the signs are good!
I certainly didn’t think I would make a blog post with this name today! This is possibly my strangest post ever….
To explain, I was cleaning and packing seed in the garden today (a beautiful sunny day here) and I noticed that the seed of an Allium I’d just cleaned seemed a bit “nervous” or jumpy, jumping as soon as I touched them! They don’t have an English name, they are simply Allium ovalifolium var leucoNERVUM….. I decided to film this strange phenomenon (see the video below)…..and at about 1 minute my friend the wren decided he wanted to be part of the action and starts to call next to me (see also yesterday’s wren film)…and then at the end my neighbour can be heard calling me, unaware of the drama going on….wanting to know if I wanted some hen (not wren) manure…..let me know what you think?