Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Wild Life In The Garden

slug-free Hostas!

Red Damselfly

Starling fledglings

Pester Power

Female Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) and bee prey

Common Malachite Beetle

Poached Eggs


Ragged Robin

Brian Mark II (orange tip pillar)

Footballer hoverfly

Beautiful Demoiselle

Brown Silver-Lines moth

Jay (who had just eaten a Song Thrush's Child :o( )
Male crab spider on his ox-eye daisy
I've been entirely caught up in the lives of our Crab Spiders this week. I found Mrs Crab sitting on one of the Ox Eyes a few days ago and was amazed when I went back to check an hour later to discover her fiercely guarding an immobilised bee underneath the flower. She has hunted, caught and eaten a bee of this size three days out of the last four. She sits in wait on the edge of her flower, perfectly blended with the petals (they can change colour to match their backgrounds) and when a bee lands she darts out, injects him and it's game over. She wasn't too chuffed when Poppy and I bent in for a closer look: she raised one leg and waved it at us in warning. I explained that we didn't want to eat her bee, but she didn;t seem convinced so we left her to it.

Soon after I found her, I discovered the tiny wee black-and-white chap in the pic above, swinging in a very carefree attitude between the ox-eyes. Hmm (I thought) he's another Crab spider, albeit entirely different to Mrs C. I looked him up and discovered he isn't different at all, he's actually her husband (and about a tenth of her size).

She is eating like mad to produce enough energy to lay her eggs, which she'll fold a leaf or petal over and then stand guard over for three weeks until the spiderlings hatch. During that time she won't eat a thing and at the end of it all, she'll die. He is hanging about because he's needed to fertilise the eggs. I can't stop watching them. It's endlessly fascinating to me, these short and vital life cycles played out among a single group of flowers.

Other children in the garden this week have been five extremely noisy starling babies. They have stalked about the lawn after their parents, loudly berating them and demanding food on the spot. It went as far as actual pecking of tail feathers as well as all the gaping. This went on for two days, before the parents cracked and started shouting back at them. The kids soon got the message and I've only seen them briefly since, swinging through the sky in a great big starling mob.

The Jay is not in my good books. Hearing a terrible cacophony of furious blackbird warning calls a couple of afternoons ago when I was out setting up Badger Cam, I scrambled through the undergrowth to investigate, suspecting a stoat attack, only to find two thrushes dive-bombing the Jay who held one of their speckled offspring in his feet. He wasn't remotely worried about the parents, but he was afraid of me. He dropped the baby as I approached: I found it still warm lying crumpled in the leaf litter at the foot of a tree. It's nature in action, but it always troubles me when it's young animals.

On a happier note, the Beautiful Demoiselle is a new garden addition. I'm not convinced it came from the pond because they are usually nymphs of running water, but it was a joy to see it anyway. The Red Damsel did come from the pond- there are loads of them eclosing this week in the sun, along with one or two blues. Brian (caterpillar) has hatched from the orange tip egg I showed you in a previous post. I have to remind myself not  to look too often for him because he's about the size of a very thin piece of cotton and I worry about smudging him with my thumb :o)

Cooler here today and rain is forecast tomorrow, so I'm off to Hobbycraft to restock ribbons and bias binding for various sewing projects.

Hope all are well?

CT :o)


  1. We have a lot of young starlings around, I wish I hadn't read the bit about the Jay, but then that's life, thanks for sharing your pictures x

  2. Stunning photo's we have loads of fat baby starlings around.

  3. Your photographs, as usual, are splendid - especially those young starlings. I haven't seen poached egg flowers for years. Sad story about the jay but we have a couple of magpies and two jackdaws and as yet we haven't seen a single baby bird, so suspect they have been active.

  4. Thrushes are getting scarce, too.... How do you keep your his tags slug free?

    1. They are in a pot covered in gravel. I have some in the garden that have so far escaped too. Fairy dust ;-) x

  5. You've got some crackers there. The fledglings are aborable and characterful, and your damselflies are great. Not seen any here yet, and never seen a beautiful demoiselle or a red damselfly. We are all about the banded Ds and the common blues here!

  6. Wonderful as always to catch up with your local wildlife! I hope you enjoy your sewing!

  7. Wonderful pictures. We had a crab spider a couple of years ago, we were riveted. She set up home on a white cosmos flower and caught a succession of unwitting bees. I love all of those open beaks. It's much the same in my kitchen. I do love a bit of restocking of craft supplies. No doubt you found lots of lovely things. CJ xx

  8. Those starlings should have their own show! Such great goings on in your garden. :-)

  9. So much going on in your garden....wonderful!
    The starling young bare a striking resemblance to my 15 year old who seems to always have his mouth open squawking for food.......!!!!!!!
    Great show and good to see some blogging. xxxx

  10. Such a great post today. The spider life is so interesting and I love the waving you off. I could see it.
    The first thing I thought of was the babies look so big and the parents look so tired. I glad the parents gave them the boot !

    cheers, parsnip

  11. Great photos - the damsels and the malachite beetle are so pretty. Poor baby blackbird! I've never seen a crab spider; I think I'll have to try and be more observant from now on. Have fun choosing craft supplies. xx

  12. I love hearing about all the wildlife in your garden, as always, although that is so sad about the thrush. They are such lovely birds. I remember dozens of baby starlings making a racket in the garden when I was younger but we don't have so many here now. They are out in the fields behind but even then there aren't as many as there once were. Fascinating stuff about the crab spider.

  13. Wonderful photos of the crab spider waiting and with prey. How brilliant. Not nice to witness the jay with baby bird. As you say, it is nature in action but it's always upsetting. The starlings remind me of my children :-) Hope your trip to Hobbycraft was fruitful. Sam x

  14. Lovely to catch up on the news of your garden wildlife - the young starlings are exceedingly cute. Have seen young blackbirds here and wrens are feeding young plus blue tit eggs have just hatched :) Its a lovely time of year.

    Loved reading about the crab spiders :) Enjoy your sewing.

  15. Lovely photos CT. it's been a slow Spring here but today I saw the baby blackbirds in the pond and then preening themselves on the fence. I'm still seeing a male blackbird with a mouthful of worms hopping about on the lawn so maybe we have more than one nest. Given the weather forecast shopping for craft supplies sounds like a jolly good idea and I have to 'fess to visiting my local yarn shop today and buying three skeins of Mrs Moon plump - I'm telling myself II'm getting ahead ....

  16. Wonderful to see what's going on in your garden, lovely photos too. Never seen a Crab spider, would love to.
    Amanda xx

  17. what fantastic photos...I really need to get back out there with the camera1


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