Tuesday, 21 May 2019

All The Small Things

I'm still fighting through the tail end charlie of this viral thing, so no running for a week :o(. Hoping to get back to it soon. Poppy is desperate! In the mean time, as soon as I was well enough to get up and out, I've been enjoying pottering around the garden seeing who I can find. May is a wonderful month for life in the land, and the garden gets better every year as it matures into it's home for wildlife role.

The chap in the photo above is a red cardinal beetle. He looks fearsome but he's very friendly. There are two of them sharing the nettle patch by the compost heap and I'm hoping they're a pair.

As I was chatting to the beetles, a flit of something small caught my eye and a butterfly alighted on the dogwood. The wings immediately snapped shut to reveal the spots and dots of a blue butterfly, probably a common blue. I got a surprise when she opened them to reveal not the blue I was expecting but chocolate brown. A female common blue, freshly minted...

The honeybees continue to gorge on the ceonothus while avoiding the crab spider who lives there. We usually get a swarm in May but so far nothing.

In the pond, large red damsels continue to eclose. Their colours are dimmed for a day or so after emerging before they mature into a deep ruby red colour with flashes of burnished gold on their tails.

And here are some shots of the common/ azure which I'm hoping Mr Tense will ID for me :o)

These two little chaps are tiny micro moths. They are very endearing and waggle their antennae at me whenever I go to see them. They are on the marsh marigold leaves on the pond at present.

 And this is a bee species unknown to me. Any thoughts?

And another bee I don't know...

The first green shieldbug of the year is living on the roses...

Docks bugs are everywhere in the vegetable patch, along with a female nurseryweb spider who will have her babies there later in the summer....

I counted three 22-spot ladybirds yesterday which I was pleased about as we get hundreds of harlequins...

And this rather handsome hoverfly who I think is xanthogramma pedissequum, who has the rather marvellous common name of superb ant-hill hoverfly because the larvae feed on aphids within the nests of ants...

And this one is a footballer hoverfly...

Ted is busy keeping a weather eye on everything.


There are three Brians on the cuckoo flower. Slightly worried about this as they are close together and orange-tip larvae are cannibalistic. They grow enormously everyday, putting on a couple of mm at least between measurements. At the moment, they are pretty well camouflaged.

I'm building my strength back before I go running again by gardening- this morning's labours were potting out the seedlings. Does anyone else have trouble growing sweet peas from seed? I have a grand total of 4 plants :o(. And don't get me started on black-eyed susans!

The blue tit chicks have fledged from sparrow terrace, but there are still babies in the roof nest and in the house on the wall. The woodies have left them alone this year. Mrs GSW paid a rare visit to the feeders this morning and for once allowed photos....

The second and much smaller crab spider, misumena vatia, is still on her oxeye daisy, having miraculously survived middle son back from uni for a flying visit over the weekend and playing violent croquet in the garden with his father. I shouted mind the spider! every few minutes :o).

I've saved the best till last. As I was typing this post, a loud buzzing came towards the open door. Not looking up and assuming it was a hornet I told Pop to leave it be and carried on typing, only for a large green person to fly in through the door, circuit the room noisily and fly out again. Now, I am very partial to beetles, and it's impossible to have favourites among them, but rose chafer beetles are one of my most favourites among the favourites I don't have. 

I darted outside and watched her bimble about the patio. She's looking for somewhere to lay her eggs, I thought, grabbing hold of Pop's nose to stop her snapping as the beetle came in low. She flew away over the trees and I thought that was that, but a few minutes later she was back, and this time she landed on the Brians' flowers where she remained for a good twenty minutes eating pollen and nectar before flying over to the sage pot which has fibrous chunks of rotted manure in it (exactly what a rose chafer likes) where she burrowed down to lay her eggs. Magic. I took 56 photos, but managed to whittle them down. It's not everyday your quite possibly favourite beetle comes to visit.

Just imagine, baby beetles will soon be in the sage pot!

Hope all are well and enjoying the lovely weather if you currently have it, as we do here. We are one A Level down, several to go.


Thursday, 16 May 2019

May In The Land

There's a good deal of life going on here at the moment. Two nests of great tit babies have fledged into the trees around the garden and are being vocally bossy to their parents about food all day long. Mr Sparrow is being kept busy from dawn till dusk supplying the nest in the wall of the house with food- I see him flying in and out, in and out. Earlier he had a twist of grass in his beak, possibly sent out with an instruction to do some flying repairs. He dropped it near the feeder so hopefully he won't get into trouble. Mr Robin is feeding Mrs Robin whenever she comes off the nest- I love watching them do this, it's about energy saving so she doesn't use up valuable time incubating the eggs looking for food, but it's very endearing to watch.

The blue tit nest in sparrow terrace (a row of three nest boxes which the sparrows have never used) is squeaking as is the one on the wall. This year, so far, no woodpecker assaults on either (both now have plates on the front). The blue tit nest in the roof of the house where one of the tiles has slipped is also producing offspring. Added to that, there are large red damselflies and blue-tailed damselflies laying eggs on the duckweed in the pond, and either common or azure damsels also flitting about (I'm awaiting Tensey at Tense Towers to explain the difference to me, which I know he did last year but I've forgotten). I am a little worried that I keep finding dead dragonfly nymphs floating in the pond- six in the last couple of weeks. Any thoughts, anyone?

I'm very pleased to report there are two crab spiders in the garden, one on an oxeye daisy which only opened yesterday so that was fast work, and another on the ceonothus which is festooned with honey bees from the hive in the chimney pot. I found a grey-haired mining bee on it yesterday too- a first for the garden.

I'd been mulling over putting the moth box out, because I miss them, but I worry so about collateral damage. Then a pair of muslin moths appeared on the wall and an orange footman flew down onto a daisy at my feet so perhaps for now I will be content with them.

I saw a small copper and two small torts out in the fields this week- all poised to get a picture when Pop came over to see what I was looking at and set the flutters off into the air. Hmm. There have been lots of orange-tips around and we have two Brians on the cuckoo flower (caterpillars- you may remember they are always called Brian), but I haven't seen so many holly blues this year.

The Hares have had some lovely runs through the land recently, with added dogs, and also took part in the Broadlands Relay Marathon last weekend, where a team of ten compete to run 26.2 miles as fast as possible (each member does 2.6 miles). We were 65/ 161 teams which I was thrilled with. All the money raised goes to charity and it's a lovely day out for the town with lots of friends and familiar faces there. We took picnics and a gazebo and chairs and were there in the sun all day. A jolly day out.

Race-wise, I also did WSR Ox Frolic on Saturday morning- 5:30am get up for an 8am start. Yikes! It was a fab race- lots of hills through gorgeous countryside and woods thick with wild garlic. The medal is the most amazing one I've yet had and I couldn't resist one of their fabulously designed tees. Unfortunately, I've come down with a hideous sore throat and cough as of yesterday, so currently off running and missing it very much- Pop and I had got into a great routine of running an hour every morning through the land which she's been loving- lots of opportunities for her to swim in rivers, brooks and streams which seems to be a thing with her this year. Teddy has even come on a few with us too which has been lovely. All this has meant that my regular weekly mileage has been close to 50, so not being able to even do one at the moment is making me feel slightly stir-crazy. Hopefully a few more days and I'll be back to it.

How are you all? A Levels start here on Monday.....

CT :o)