Thursday, 30 May 2019

London Vitality 10k, Moths, Beetles and a Water Shrew

Monday saw us in London for the Vitality 10k, a race through central London on closed roads. 20,000 people took part. It was quite something. We were up at 5:30 and on the train by 7:30 and got into London with plenty of time to walk to Green Park and sort out the bag drop and a meeting place. A number of the Hares had come with us and, as with the London marathon, the organisers had handily had alphabetic meeting places put up, so we plumped for H of course.

The start was outside Buck Pal and it was arranged in waves to manage the relative speeds of the runners. M was in the top wave just behind Mo Farah and I was in the third. It was well managed and ran smoothly so we weren't hanging about for ages BUT as always happens, some people had been over-ambitious in their predicted times and there was a fair amount of dodging slower runners who had put themselves at the front then run out of steam after a mile. Grrrr.

My race went well, given that I'd been off for a week with a virus, then done a reasonably fast parkrun on the Saturday and a long ten mile run on the Sunday. I managed to knock 2.5 mins off my PB and come in at 47 minutes, which I was thrilled with. Some of the credit for this has to go to a lovely chap whom I ran most of the way with. After the first couple of miles we realised we were about the same pace and stuck together for the remainder of the race. Sometimes I went ahead, sometimes he did, but we always managed to join up again. We had this kind-of unspoken accord that happens sometimes in races where you don't say a word to each other but you just know you're keeping one another going. Anyway, we got to the final 100m marker and I said to him come on buddy, let's sprint, so we did, and we crossed the line together. We shook hands at the end and thanked one another - he was chuffed because he hadn't managed to go under 48 minutes before and I was obvs thrilled with my time. Then we went our separate ways. I do think running brings out the absolute best in people- complete strangers helping one another out in a kind of silent support. It's brilliant.

So now I'm on marathon taper, which I do not enjoy- not enough running, too much eating. It messes with your head and you feel fat, slow and slothful. I shall be very glad when the weekend after next rolls round and I can get on with it!

So on to the other part of the post, which is about moths! I don't put the moth box often these days because I worry about the collateral damage, but the other night I decided to and see who came visiting....

scorched wing

alder moth


white ermine

poplar hawk


broken barred carpet moth

silver ground carpet

orange footman

white banded carpet

light brocade

shoulder-striped wainscot

pale tussock

mocha moth


The rose chafer has been back three times....

And I'm not sure what this is. Any ideas??

I have also been very lucky this week to see a water shrew hunting in our stream for the first time in my life. They are normally shy, nocturnal creatures so it was an absolute treat. Hard to spot in the photo below unless you know what you're looking for but I promise he is there. Magic!

Hope all are well?


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.