Who knows whether climate change is responsible but consider this. I have a circa 50-acre garden amidst which my home I built 50 years ago sits. I also have about 200 fruit trees, this a great joy as each December we gorge on plums, then come the peaches, followed by apples and pears in the new year. The roughly 100 cherry trees’ output are dealt to by birds. Finally at summer’s end comes walnuts. Well this year no plums for the first time ever.
The apple and pear trees are bulging and as always, the Wellington clay-loving citrus trees have produced hundreds of oranges and grapefruit, these so sweet, if squeezed for juice they have to be watered down. So why no plums?
Here’s a possible explanation for there’s something else now missing and that’s the all important insects. Open a window in summer sees an invasion of flies. This year, sometimes just one, duly trapped and let go outside.
January is traditionally spent by the pool reading, playing tennis and then evening golf. When lying out there, at about 10 minute intervals we rise and rescue insects drawn to the pool’s shiny surface. An average January day might see 100 bumblebees, flies, midges and other insect species fished out on to the lawn to recover. Lighter insects can survive on the surface for up to a half-hour but weighty bumblebees quickly become waterlogged and are goners after 5 minutes, if not quickly saved.
We’ve been swimming for over 3 months now (the pool is heated) and in that time not a single insect has hit the pool. Literally not one. Nor are they visible in other normal locations. A visitor residing in Karori told me they’d observed the same thing there, that is no insects.
Insects play a vital part in plant fertilisation. Their absence will also affect spiders dependant on them for food, the spiders in turn providing sparrow food.
Normally we have 3 or 4 native pigeon pairs; this year just a single lonely one. The usually present fantails, thrushes and tuis are not to be seen. A few years ago we once walked off the tennis court to escape the racket from the then hundreds of tuis.
What we do have in lieu is at last count, 64 white doves coming from God knows where and costing me $300 a week to feed them. All of this emanates from one which turned up and made himself at home 4 years ago. After 6 months he disappeared and was much missed but a fortnight later was back with a mate. A week later they flew off for two days then returned with a third one and it’s gone from there. Currently one is sitting on a single egg in a hanging flower basket outside the front door.
The other change is a massive sparrow population, all grossly obese thanks to tucking in amongst the doves when fed on the front lawn.
A friend suggested we feed them less generously and the dove and sparrow numbers might abate. That’s one possibility but another could be being pecked to death as the doves have become very aggressive, lining up and beating on windows if we’re late for their 3 routine daily feeds when the task befalls us in weekends.
A final solution in every sense lies in the fact that white doves are a species of pigeon. Pigeon pie is common in Britain. They could keep us permanently supplied for poultry dishes.
I have noticed that when I was a teenager delivering The Dominion that I would run into hordes of midges which would get up my nose and into my eyes.
Ten years ago when out driving the windscreen would be covered with the bodies of dead insects. This particularly noticeable in the evening.
Now there are none.
I put it down to the excessive use of insect spraying.
Maybe it’s your doves and sparrows that are gobbling up all the insects????
Yes yes. The same. Where are the praying mantids snd stick insects and wetas which used to be common in my garden. ? And this year so few monarchs. No white butterflies. No wee insects and moths swarming to the outside lights st night. No squashed insects on the car window and grill when we travel up country. It is most disturbing
Very simple reason Bob, in Wellington we have had a second Autumn rather than a Summer.
what I was thinking..it’s barely underway.
Ah yes the ‘return’ of the (in)famous doves. Always enjoy reading about your garden sir, quite interesting despite the potential gloomy outlook of the context.
Here it is first week of March already. My garden is coming to its productive end for the year.
Another bumper crop from my peach tree. They are not large, but very succulent and a deep red colour. The Black Doris Plum tree has been laden with fruit. The larder is full of jams and preserves.
I’m harvesting pumpkin and potato’s at weeks end. i have an insatiable appetite for american style pumpkin pie.
This year my garden has been a mass of colour thanks to the abundance of Monarch butterflies and bees, which incidentally have a wild hive in the roof of my home and on hot days honey drips through my ceiling. The bees are friendly and the honey tasty, so i have no reason to disturb the cycle. The birds get the grapes and after 8 years the Avocado trees still refuses to fruit.
I’m in my twilight years, live in Pahiatua on a quarter acre section and am constantly amazed the local foodbanks can’t keep up with the demand for food to feed the hungry of the district.
Forty five years ago, or there about, I was living in Wellington and working at laying pre-cast concrete flooring on an office block on Jervois Quay called Robert Jones House..