Joyful July.

July was a mixed bag of weather, some sunny days, some windy days, some rain and some warmth, but here we didn't have the heatwave some had experienced further inland. At the beginning of the month there were a lot of Swifts on the move. They seemed to be moving in different directions some days but what was noticeable were the numbers. a few hundred birds estimated some days but on the 8th I must of seen close to a thousand birds head east/southeast, what a sight seeing them move over wave after wave. After that day the numbers eased and returned to the odd group now and again.
I finally got to see a Hobby this year, on the 11th !!, and sure enough just like buses they continued after that, on one occasion I had a pair feeding over the house along with a Peregrine. The garden was attracting plenty of insects, the marjoram was alive with bees and hoverflies, the butterfly bush was in bloom and bringing in a lot of butterflies.
This Hornet Hoverfly was seen regularly in the garden, a large Hoverfly, largest in the UK, it mimics a Hornet to help keep predators away, but is entirely harmless.
Dragonflies were up in numbers now the weather had warmed, I was seeing Brown Hawker over the garden and even saw a couple of Banded Demoiselles!
This Four Spotted Chaser sunned itself for a time, enabling me to grab a camera. 

Sarah and I found out what had been cutting down plants and indeed making plants vanish? I watched a Nigella plant moving back and forth wondering why it was the only plant seemingly doing so, we then saw a Bank Vole run from cover to the next plant victim and watched it chew through it in sections before taking it away! It continued doing this till it had all but one piece stashed away. It was obviously well fed as it even looked a decent size and we continued to watch it running around the garden selecting different plants to eat, even the dogs were catching sight of it as it was so busy moving around.
I believe this is a Essex Skipper that visited the marjoram, the antennae don't seem to show any orange on the underside as a Small Skipper would show.
On a few days I would see Hummingbird Hawkmoth in the garden, with more than one individual as this one was very bedraggled and unlike the pristine one seen other times.
A Holly Blue butterfly ventured down from the Holly trees to feed, happily showing off the silvery underside of the wing.
On a couple of days during the month there were hatchings of insects which attracted a lot of gulls. The first hatch at the beginning of July were flying ants, and my god did they bring in the gulls. There must of been 300 or so overhead picking off this newly emerged feast, most were Black headed Gulls but I did see Common Gulls too. The second time was at the end of the month and involved just Black headed and just a fraction of the numbers, but I watched them doing circuits over the trees and garden close enough to grab a couple of shots, including this gull about to gulp down a insect.
Mothing produced 45 species for the year list which now stands at 171 macro species. A few of these were new for the garden also which boosted the list numbers up.
Barred Straw
Bordered White
Scorched Carpet
Oak Hook-tip
Pine Carpet
Grey Arches
Varied Coronet