Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Ninety-eight

23 June 2020 | Posted in Michael Blencowe
Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Ninety-eight

Day Ninety-eight

Well, it's almost time for me to goso I had better give you one last update on what's been happening in the garden.

When I started this diary back on 18 March the front garden looked like this...

Front then

and now it looks like this....


Meanwhile the back garden has gone from this...


to this....


I love seeing the knapweed coming into flower - I love the colour purple as much as Prince does so any purple flowers are fine by me.


My mini wildflower meadows are full of  bees and all their buzzing has now been joined by the sound of grasshoppers. These meadows are really starting to come alive. And the summer butterflies are emerging too.

I always get really excited when I see the first Meadow Brown of the year. Although I have to admit that by the time I see my third I'm already bored of them. They're one of our commonest butterflies and you'll find them in any meadow in the summer, so I guess I need to have a few of them in mine. Here's my first Meadow Brown of 2020.


I'll never get bored of Marbled Whites though. This one emerged at the end of last week. Such stunning butterflies. It looks like someone has hand-drawn and shaded the pattern on the wings


Ringlets are little beauties too. This one emerged in the garden over the weekend.


And let's not forget these little guys - the Small Skippers


Wow. It's weird to think that when I started this diary I was releasing winter's hibernating Peacock butterflies from the garage (Day 21) and now I'm seeing the summer butterflies emerging. And in all that time I haven't gone anywhere

Also in the garden this morning I saw three Six-spot Burnets. The first one was a chubby little caterpillar who had just started to pupate and was constructing its cocoon.


Here's number two, a burnet pupating inside its papery cocoon


...and number three was my first adult Six-spot Burnet of the summer. I tried to get a picture but he was too fast. So here's one from last year. 

Six spot burnet Surrey 020706

Such stunning insects. Look out for them in meadows - especially up on the South Downs.

One thing I have never really mentioned in the past 98 days is 'my' Blackbird. Since the start of the diary on 18 March I have been obsessed with the Blackbird in my garden, I've spent a lot of time watching him. His singing is the first thing I hear in those dark early hours of the morning and he's been the last bird I hear at sunset too. A constant companion in my lockdown bubble. I've even given him a name: Pancho. And I never give wildlife a name. Here he is relaxing on my deckchair.

Panco chair

And he's absolutely crazy. He's seems particularly territorial and aggressive. I've worked out that there's a lot of blackbirds squeezed into this cul-de-sac all competing for their own territories. My garden is part of Pancho's territory and, by watching where he sings to defend his borders I have been able to map out his kingdom (basically 2.5 gardens). Here's his partner María. 


My fence is the border between Pancho's territory and the territory of a neighbouring Blackbird (who I've called Lefty). If Lefty puts so much as one feather across that fence then all hell breaks loose. I filmed the pair of them once chasing and fighting for 35 minutes non-stop! Here's photo of Pancho and Lefty having a punch-up in mid-air.

Pancho Fighting

Pancho's been here with me since day one and, just like me, this garden, this house and the sky above it has been his entire world.

Pancho was back on his perch on the apple tree last night, his watchtower, listening to Lefty's song. And Pancho sang right back at him, creating a beautiful threatening duet, their war-cries broadcasting all along the cul-de-sac

And, as I have done for many nights since all this craziness started, I sat back in the deckchair listening to him sing. Pancho looked so good up there against the blue sky I stuck the camera on a tripod and pressed 'record' as the sun was setting.

Most days I've ended my diaries with songs from some of my favourite singers. So, to sing us out today, here's a song from an incredible singer who has helped me get through the past 98 days. 

Take it away, Pancho.


  • Ginny-Vic:

    23 Jun 2020 14:33:00

    Woodstock looks fantastic! A wonderful set of photos too. How do you get them so clear and in focus? Next time I can’t sleep I might listen to blackbirds. Even war cries between neighbouring territories are very calming! Where do the names come from? Only 2 days left ☹️

  • 23 Jun 2020 15:30:00

    Blackbirds are the best. Just before reading this I was listening to yet another radio programme fetishising Nightingale song and yes it’s remarkable but in the UK rather restricted in range & habitat whereas Blackbird can be heard the length and breadth of the country – and continent! – in City centres, suburbs & countryside.

  • Louise:

    23 Jun 2020 15:55:00

    Thank you for these witty, informative, funny and beautiful diaries. Every cloud has a silver lining and you have provided one in our lockdown. I love them.

  • Holly:

    24 Jun 2020 12:34:00

    Thank you for sharing Pancho with us. I have not read all your diary entries but have followed your posts and progress throughout and you have done something which has kept us all going!

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