Saturday, 3 August 2013

Woken By A Wren, Crickets For Lunch, The Source Of The River Test, And A Land Of Wild Things

I woke this morning to find a Wren staring at me. We always sleep with the window open, and one of the Children had flown in and was perched on the sill subjecting us to a very thorough examination in the way only a wren can.
"Good morning," I said, slightly blearily.
She bobbed her tail in reply and put her head on one side, stared at me for a second longer then turned round and hopped back out the window.
What a nice way to wake up.

I made a somewhat flippant remark yesterday that M's work colleagues would be forming a not terribly flattering opinion of me from my various wildlife-related phone calls. This was confirmed last night when he arrived home and told me about a conversation he'd had with a colleague over lunch, which ran like this:
M's colleague (who was eating a sandwich from the canteen whereas M was eating a packed lunch brought from home): "What have you got for lunch today?"
M (opening his ice cream tub and watching a cricket leap out of it): "A small cricket."

I've decided I need a decent wild flower ID book so would like some suggestions as to what I should get please. I've got a small one for going out and about with but would ideally like a more hefty and comprehensive tome to keep at home. Any suggestions gratefully received.

I found an Interesting Poo in the garden yesterday, which, amid all the excitement of the Hummingbird Hawkmoth I forgot to post. There are two contenders: a hedgehog (which would be very exciting) or a toad. There is a toad in the garden but I've never seen a hedgehog. What do you think?

On a different subject, we went back to the woods this morning and I got some better shots of the Silver Washed Fritillaries who live there. They were out in abundance enjoying the wild mint, knapweed and buddleia that grows there allowing plenty of decent photo opportunities.

There were lots of other butterflies and bees too, all too busy on the flowers to pay much attention to me getting closer and closer with the camera!

The woods are an ancient place with a history that includes the site of a Viking battle against the local Saxons. One of the Saxon Warriors, presumably a casualty from this battle, is buried at a local church. A culvert runs from one side of the woods and crosses beneath the road, it is known locally as "Bloody Bridge" in memory of this long ago event. The woods themselves are a mix of broad leaf and deciduous trees with open trackways running through them that support a wide variety of native plants and insects. It is a managed woodland that is well looked after and proof of the positive impact man can have on an environment if sensitively handled.

 It is a great place to practice Improving Your Knowledge Of Native Plant Names, because so many grow there. Today I added Enchanter's Nightshade to my lexicon. I think it is my favourite Wild Plant Name yet. Here it is, with the leaves in the second shot.

 Wild Raspberries

Common Knapweed


Last year's pine cones

Cob Nut (or beech tree nut)

And a poor dead shrew

Here are some more pictures of Things I Have Enjoyed Looking At This Week....

Birds House

Four Bees In A Row

A Petunia

A Pigeon's egg, hatched

Elder Wood

A Hungry Bee

Inside a Clematis


 Bittersweet (the berries are poisonous, which the flowers seem to suggest)

This afternoon we went hunting the source of the River Test, something that sounds very romantic and wild, but actually turned out to be disappointingly pedestrian. The Birth Of A River should, to my mind, be wild and wonderful- this river starts life as a spring which has managed to turn itself into a rather murky pond in the middle of a field which in turn feeds out into a gloopy trickly little river. It does eventually turn into one of the greatest chalk streams (complete with exorbitant fishing rights) in the country, but you'd never guess it from such humble beginnings...

I was, however, pleased to see it, and even more so when I discovered these amazing caterpillars on the nettles that are abundant there. I am pretty sure they are peacocks, as they spin a silken web and feed off nettles, but as my caterpillar knowledge is limited to say the least so I will happily be corrected if anyone recognises them as something different. There were loads, so whoever they belong to they should hopefully do well. I am slightly kicking myself for not having brought some home to raise here as we know the food source and it would have been smashing to watch peacock butterflies develope. I've just worked out that our pillar people are Large Whites, so nothing dramatic there!

Another lovely day spent mostly out of doors, and as a result I still haven't got round to posting my moths for you to ooh and ahh over. I promise to do that in the next couple of days. I have some real beauties to show you. My count for the year is now up to 255 different moth species and 18 butterflies. It would be great to get to 300 moths before the year ends.

Here are a couple to keep you going...

 An August Thorn who was sitting quite happily on my hand and refused to get off

Evergestis Pallidata

Clouded Border

Lesser Swallow Prominent
(this one is especially for my blogging pal Seagull Suzie, because I know of her love for furry moths)

Have a lovely evening all. We're having Chinese here and a bottle of fizz tonight which is chilling in the freezer as I type so no cooking for me yipee!

CT x


  1. Hurrah for no cooking!

    Vis a vis the poo - I showed the sample to my Husband the Vet because he has great experience of animal poo, as you can imagine, and he said it was all pretty much the same to him (seen one, seen 'em all - he has been a vet for a Very Long Time so I am guessing the hilarity associated with poo of his uni days has worn off) but whatever it belonged to it looked a bit constipated.

    My bet, then, is on a toad. They always look a bit pained.

    Enjoy the Chinese!! :-)

    1. Tell Andy I am Very Disappointed In Him. I though poo hilarity lasted a lifetime (or is that just in our house praps?). I suspect it is a toad, as it was by the pond...

      Yum- Chinese and a bottle of fizz and look I can still type wityhout macking manee mistackes! x

  2. Enchanter's Nightshade is the scourge of all gardeners but I agree - it's the best name.

    My favourite wildflower book is:

    'Wildflowers of Britain' by Roger Phillips.

    1. Ah excellent, thanks Em. I knew you'd come up with a good suggestion. I'll check it out....

  3. Well whatever that poo is, I have plenty of it in my garden...and was hoping it's hedgehog too. The August Thorne is a beautiful colour and I love the pose, and you are right I loved the Lesser Swallow look at those furry legs and I was cooing (thank you :)).
    How lovely to wake up with a wren in your bedroom-my idea of heaven.
    What a lovely post to cheer me up (hubby is out and a blackbird chick flew into my living room window and died) I was so upset, I picked it up folded its wings back nicely, smoothed it's feathers and held it for a few minutes in my hand.
    I just love the story of the cricket in your husband's lunchbox!

    1. I know- how funny you posted your poo, so to speak, and then I went out and found mine (if you know what I mean!).

      So sad to read about your blackbird chick, I know how much that will have upset you x

    2. Having a catch up this morning. I have a Collins Complete Guide from 1981 called British Wildlife and use it all the time, but I guess I could do with a newer one too.
      I think our poo image looks the same :) so guess it must be toads. Followers must have been wondering what all the interest in poo was all at once!

    3. I'm thinking toads too, which is by no means bad, it just would be lovely to have a hedgehog as well :-)

      I've got a Collins complete guide to British Insects which was pub'd in 2005 and is very good, but did you know some bee names have changed since then so for those at least the book is wrong?!

  4. Another great post and photos CT :) We raised a Comma caterpillar years ago when the chldren were young and the moment of emergence from the pupa was just wonderful :)

    The two wildflower books I use the most are Marjorie Blamey's Wildflowers by Colour (Dorling Kindersley) and Collins Flower Guide (Most Complete Guide to flowers of Britain and Ireland) - Streeter,Hart-Davies, Hardcastle, Cole & Harper. Collins also do a photographic guide. When I am out and about I take a Mitchell Beasley Pocket Guide to Wildflowers by Peter Moore which I've had for donkey's years so may be out of print?

    Have a great Sunday :)

    1. Great, thanks very much for the recommendations I will check them all out and hopefully be able to get something before we go on hols :-)

  5. Great stuff as always CT, I love the Fritillaries :-)

    I would second Em's recommendation of Philip's 'Wildflowers of Britain', it's certainly my favourite guide book and is arranged by flowering season which I like (or at least my hardback version from 1977 is).

    1. Me too- they are beautiful butterflies :-)

      Thanks for the flower book recommendation. I will now have a good place to start looking and hopefully get something sorted before the summer is over!

  6. I loved reading this - I would be fascinated to find the source of a river even if it did turn to out to be a murky pond! Beautiful photos, especially of the Silver Washed Fritillaries. And I'm also going to recommend Roger Phillips 'Wild Flowers of Britain', it's my wildflower bible (and my paperback copy was also published in 1977)

    1. Thanks for the book recommendation Wendy, will now check them all out safe in the knowledge I will be able to get something I know will do the job required of it!

      It was fascinating to see the source of the river- now I'd quite like to see some others and find out how they compare. I sense a summer project coming on :-)

  7. It will be such a privilege to see newly emerging fluttery things! Mum said we have some butterfly eggs on the kale so maybe we could do the same :)

    The fritillaries are such beautiful butterflies!

    Lovely post as always :)

    1. We have done it before with the whites and I was all excited encouraging the children to keep an eye on them and then revolting parasitic wasps burst out of the caterpillars instead of beautiful butterflies! Oh well, tis all nature I suppose :-)


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