Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Moths, Damselflies, Mice and Homemade Birdfood

It's raining here this morning but I don't mind because the garden and pond will enjoy it. Mrs M and I have already been out walking the dogs along paths that snake through our local wetland which was stuffed full of comfrey and yellow Iris. Mrs M has a new blackbird nest on her pergola, which is exciting, even if the nest is in a slightly precarious position and looks a tad wonky. Fingers crossed for another successful hatching there.

No sign on the baby goldfinch out in the open yet but the parents have been on the feeders this morning so hopefully it won't be long before it ventures out to join them. I did get a glimpse of it yesterday afternoon in the beech hedge and it is very sweet. It has a duller plumage than the adults and a short stubby tail.

I spent an enjoyable ten minutes yesterday as the light was starting to fade watching my mice playing in the garden. They make me smile and even M had to concede that there was something endearing about the two of them scampering about jumping over one another, hiding under flowers and nibbling at seeds. It was a very small concession though because he is still muttering about infestations and mice traps.





We're now getting a fairly regular supply of damselflies around the pond. Mostly common blue's, although I think we have a female as well as a male one which is good news. I'm not fantastic at IDs for them yet so forgive me if I get them wrong! The female common blue is duller than her husband, so I'm hoping this is her. Shy Songbird will doubtless know so I'll wait for Jan's thoughts on that one.





I found a Cinnabar Moth on the lawn yesterday which the dogs luckily had not seen (otherwise I fear  we would have had the rather hasty formation of a new club called the "Moth Eaters" to go with the Pigeon Watchers). They breed on ragwort and the vineyard behind the house is full of it. Unsightly for us and the seeds are annoying because they get everywhere, but great for the moths.

I find I am developing a burgeoning interest in moths and am thinking about getting a moth box to put out at night and see what we have in the morning (thanks Ragged Robin for increasing my interest in this with those super photos on your post yesterday). Here's a pic of the Cinnabar, a common day-flying moth found throughout Great Britain. I'll try and pop up to the vineyard later and see if I can find any of their caterpillars to photograph. They are yellow and black stripey people whose very vibrant colours are a warning to predators to stay away. Apologies for the slightly blurry nature of this photo, I had to take it quickly before Ted and Dougal realised what I was doing.




Out on a bike ride over the weekend I spotted some interesting creatures that I thought were worthy of a mention here. First is this gorgeous Beautiful Demoiselle. I could look at them all day. When the kids were little we used to call them blue dancing fairies. This is a male. Splendid chap isn't he?


A movement caught my eye and I didn't realise until enlarging the photo later that it was actually two pond skaters mating. Slight invasion of privacy but I don't suppose they'll mind too much.


Whilst we were having a picnic on Sunday this Rather Interesting Beetle landed on my leg. I've looked through my books but can't find an ID for him, so if anyone knows who he is please could you let me know? The nearest I can get is that he might be some sort of Cardinal beetle.


We also saw an unusual Hover-Fly with a very long proboscis. I didn't get a photo because he moved too quickly, but having checked in the book I think he was a Rhingia campestris. He looked a bit like a bald bee and apparently they lay their eggs in cow dung, which is nice.

Everything in the garden is doing well. The greenhouse is bursting, all my cottage garden seeds have come up, the veggies in both veg patches are fantastic this year and we have started to eat some of them, and the lupins are in flower. It's also Rose Time and my Rhapsody In Blue rose is doing better than ever this year. It smells heavenly and is up by the pond so sitting on the bench there is doubly nice. I'm hoping to get to Mottisfont (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont/) to see the Rose Garden sometime in the next couple of weeks. It is always a press but the ancient stone-walled garden bursts with roses and flowers (and people) and it really is quite something to see, let alone smell.







To finish with, here are some pics of my homemade coconut halves filled with fat, dried mealworms, shrimps and seeds. Yum! The blue tits, nuthatches and woodpeckers are enjoying them (after initial misgivings), and my mice seem pleased with the bits that drop to the ground.








Off hunting butterflies tomorrow (with camera that is), although quite how successful we'll be with the wet forecast I don't know. More on that later....




20 comments:

  1. Lovely early summer images and I love the collection of damselflies, that Demoiselle is a real beauty. The Damselflies look like Azure to me rather than Common Blue but I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than I will be able to help :-)

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    1. I did wonder about the Azure, not too sure how to distinguish them from the common blues though! :-)

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  2. Hi CT, I'm very flattered but fear you credit me with more knowledge on damsels and dragons than I actually possess ;-) Having studied all your photos at length and looked through books and web sites, I think your blue damselflies here and on the earlier post are in fact Azure Damselflies rather than Common Blue which I know you had also considered. The female on this post, though I can't be certain, looks like the Blue-tailed Damselfy (Rufescens obsoleta form). Take a look at this link. It really is a nightmare to ID some of the damsels though as there are several different forms of the same one. If you don't already have it I recommend The book Britain's Dragonflies by Dave Smallshire and Andy Swash. If I remember correctly it is quite pricey but extremely useful for identifying both damsels and dragons and includes lots of detail and all the various, mind boggling, forms of each species.

    Lovely photos of the flowers and the bird food looks delicious...well it would if I was a bird :-)



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  3. Hi again CT, I see David has confirmed my thoughts on the Azure Blue. His comment wasn't there when I wrote mine which took a ridiculously long time!!

    Also meant to say really lovely pics of your sparrows on the previous post and the punting looked fun, much too scary for me though. My husband was born in Oxford and his parents owned a punt and later a boat and he has many happy memories of summer days spent on the river.

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    1. Thanks Jan for all the info- it was very kind of you to go to all that trouble of looking them up, also thanks for the book recommendation, which I will follow up. It's lovely to think that all these different types of damsels are already visiting the pond, long may it continue that way.
      Re your knowledge: credit where credit's due I say (and also to David too) - thank you both :-)

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    2. ps- just had a look at the picture you kindly gave the link to and she does look like the female blue-tailed damsel, so probably one azure male and one blue-tailed female in the pics today.

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  4. More knowledge needed now that you have a pond...isn't it great though that it has already introduced more wildlife into your life...and ours! Love the mice, they are fun to watch. I have some holes in the garden but cannot yet find out who's made them and I have not seen any mice (sadly). We used to have them where I lived before and one was so cheeky that it regularly climbed into one of the seed feeders (the plastic one) to eat the seed and you could see it moving about-sadly I never caught it on camera.

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    1. That's been a really lovely part of having a pond- working out who everyone is! I'm glad you like the mice too, I know for many people (my husband included) they are vermin, but they always put a smile on my face :-) Very difficult to photograph though- they move so quickly! Perhaps the holes in your garden are snake holes.....

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  5. That food is disgusting! Delicious for the birds though. Lovely photos of course. I love the mouse.

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    1. I can't tell you how foul it smelt Em. I love the mouse too :-)

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  6. Mice are very sweet when there are only two..!! We are having to learn to live with them, as Mike's efforts at trapping them (and zapping them) failed anyway and I absolutely refuse to put down poison. It is more about damage limitation now (next post!).

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    1. Oh dear, poor Jess. Have you tried a sonic boom...?

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  7. Lovely photos and a wonderfully interesting post :) So glad I have discovered your blog :)

    The little Wood Mice are sweet - we used to have them in the garden but haven't seen any for years. We did once have one in the garage and used a live trap to catch him/her and then set it free on a nearby common.

    So glad you are thinking of getting a moth trap :) But be warned mothing is very addictive and exciting. It feels like opening a stocking on Christmas morning every time you open your trap :)

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    1. Guess what? I have bought one! It is due to arrive tomorrow and I can't wait to put it out and see what we get. Thanks for inspiring me. :-)

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  8. Beautiful photos. The mice are cute. The Damselflies are so delicate and lovely too, as is the Beautiful Demoiselle. And the food looks like a bird-banquet!

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    1. I'm a bit besotted with those mice. Not much pond-action at the mo with all this rain but at least it isn't drying out ;-)

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  9. Great effort with the coconut feeders! I can just about stomach sprinkling mealworms from the pot onto the feeder!! Mice are such cute critters! I fail to understand how people can dislike them! Lots of lovely photos, I particularly like the lupins :)

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    1. I got very hardy about meal worms when we raised a baby blackbird a couple of years ago. I thought they were bad but then she progressed to needing live maggots! Yuk, they were disgusting! :-)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x