As you may have read in yesterday's blog, our volunteers have been busy in their gardens, watching some of the amazing wildlife that we can find close to home.

If there's one good thing to come from the current closure of our reserves, it's the opportunity to spend more time at home and exploring our local area properly. I know that I've already discovered some new footpaths and unearthed a few potentially productive wildlife hotspots, as well as finding some unexpected species even closer to home. 

In this blog, I'll share with you some of the snippets that our volunteers have sent us in the last few days.

First, Graham brings us news of beefly, bird and butterfly encounters in Harleston.

Me and the beeflies are happy in my back garden in Harleston. I only have a small garden but the local sparrowhawk has regularly been taking advantage of the storm-removed fencing in my back garden. Three common buzzards were soaring over the house today, mewing with freedom! The garden has its resident blackbirds, blue tits, dunnock, robin and wrens. The male blackbird is particularly fond of the fruit we leave out while the robin almost wills me to do a bit more digging, (I've done so much weeding that I'll have to replant them so I can then.......). As I live on the edge of town a short walk will produce singing yellowhammer and skylark. Or at home I can hear the wheezing song of greenfinch, the piping of goldcrest and the chirp of house sparrows. A peacock butterfly completes the picture.

Dark-edged beefly by Steve Everett

It seems like sparrowhawks have been popular sightings and regular visitors to gardens, as Nick reports from his Ipswich garden, where this female has been harvesting the local feral pigeons at the rate of one a day.

Buzzards, too, have been spotted soaring over many gardens, and a few of our staff and volunteers have also been lucky enough to see red kites, too.

Graham is not the only person to have seen goldcrests, but not many will have been treated to a firecrest in the garden, as Paul and Sue were last week. These two tiny birds are the joint smallest birds seen in the UK. Several people have also heard chiffchaffs and blackcaps - freshly returned from Spain or North Africa - but I've not yet heard reports from our volunteers of sand martins or swallows overhead, even though both species have been seen on the reserve already.

Goldcrest by Christine Hall

Talking of Minsmere, Pete and Kathy live in Eastbridge, so can count many of Minsmere's birds on their garden list. They've heard booming bitterns and singing Cetti's warblers and watched displaying marsh harriers - not your typical garden birds! They've also been watching great spotted woodpeckers and have discovered a new badger sett close by.

Displaying marsh harrier by Nigel Smith - not an everday garden bird for most people

Beeflies have been widely reported, too, with Sally spotting some in her garden, while I enjoyed watching several on one of my walks this week. Steve and Davene spotted hairy-footed flower bees in their garden, and I found an common wasp this morning. My own garden is also full of these lovely drone flies, a type of hoverfly, also known as Eristalis tenax.

Drone fly, Eristalis tenax

What have been your garden highlights of the last few weeks.