Birds may be scarce, but my pond is teeming with life

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I read in the paper last week that due to the exceptional summer we’ve had, that autumn this year will be about three weeks later than usual.

Try explaining that to the amazing array of fungi which has suddenly appeared in lawns and woodlands everywhere.

I’ve already had a good few feeds of delicious field mushrooms and while in Wester Ross a couple of weeks ago, the Scots Pine and oak woodlands were full of all manner of toadstools.

Overhead, the swallows and martins are beginning to gather, but the garden birds are at their scarcest of the year. Others have confirmed the same paucity, but it’s just that time of year when wild food is plentiful and moulting is not yet completed.

My garden feeding stations are mainly populated by the resident house sparrows, half a dozen feral pigeons and a wood pigeon with a gammy leg.

A few weeks ago I mentioned my newly-installed garden pond which I promised I would keep you up to date with. The other evening, while out checking for moths on my buddleia bush (which was covered incidentally), I shone my torch into the pond to see if anything was moving.

At first there was just a few water boatmen cruising around, then I saw a huge Great Diving Beetle coming up for air.

Better was to follow. I saw the Water Forget-me nots, planted in a submerged pot begin to stir. Seconds later, a huge toad emerged and swam to the bottom.

This was the one I had seen a few weeks ago and had dived into the pond at my approach.

It has obviously decided to take up residence.

When I set up the pond I was sorely tempted to try and speed things along by introducing wildlife by way of buckets of mud from other ponds, etc, but I was afraid of bringing in unwanted alien plants and pests.

I have only introduced native plants, bought from certified stock, and decided to let nature take its course.

It has been slow, but I think what comes in naturally will be more sustainable. Time will tell.

I had a fascinating email from farmer A.C. of Stow who sent me some lovely pictures of a white starling, currently frequenting the area.

It is leucistic as opposed to an albino, the latter having pink eyes.

If you have an interesting local wildlife picture you would like to share with readers, send it to