In the meantime, the sun has come out here so I've been exploring the garden, camera in hand, looking for Small People.
The Great Tits who are nesting in Sparrow Terrace have two children. One is sensible, the other is an escape artist who clearly feels his time to fledge has come....
|Yes, I can see you|
|And you can see me!|
|Oh Dear, this isn't going to End Well....|
|Hmm, well, I suppose you did reach the ground in one piece, but you couldn't exactly call it flying, could you?|
|You really are Very Small, aren't you?|
He is not big enough to be off the nest because, despite what he thinks, he can't actually fly yet. I climbed a ladder up to the bird box (what a hazardous experience that was, one hand on the ladder and the other holding on to a fidgety small while M kept a foot on the bottom of the ladder to prevent Alarming Ladder Wobble occurring) and posted him back through the hole, only to watch him pop his head out a minute or two later, launch himself out of the hole, fall onto the kitchen roof, bounce off and plop on to the path below, which is where I found him the first time. Hopeless. I shooed the dogs away, closed the gate into the garden and left him to it.
Here is mum who I hope found him under the hedge were I last saw him scampering about. She's distinctive because of the black splodge on her face and has been working so hard feeding them both.
We also have a nest of at least four baby blackbirds. They are Growing Up Fast. Here they are four days ago...
and here they are this morning, now resembling recognisable blackbirds rather than little old men with wispy top-knots...
The Starlings brought their Elegant Child to show me and also to enjoy the coconut halves...
Insect-wise, things are waking up in time for the Garden Bioblitz this weekend. I'm encouraging you all to do it if you've got time. I've found a few things I didn't see last year already, including several solitary bees, a digging wasp and some tiny weeny moths that are so small it's easy to overlook them, so let's hope it's good weather this weekend and they all show up to be recorded....
|thick-thighed flower beetle (male) Odemera nobilis|
|Female thick-thighed flower beetle|
|Solitary bee Colletes species|
|Green shield bug (nymph)|
|Solitary bee collecting pollen|
|Hoverfly Sphaerophoria scripta|
|Wasp beetle Clytus arietis (a wasp-mimic longhorn beetle)|
|Nemaphora degeerella (a longhorn moth)|
|Common Blue Damsels mating|
|Common Blue Damselfly|
You may remember that M bought me some wildflower turf for my birthday. It is growing really well and gets all kinds of insect visitors from bees to beetles to damselflies. If you've got room, I highly recommend it. There are lots of different sizes and mixes available, we went for the wildflower one.
Here is what the patch looked like in April. We'd divided it into four sections, from right to left as you look at the pic they are: wildflower seeds, grass seed, wildflower turf and soil patch for annuals (although an enormous mass of Red Campion popped up there this spring!).
Here it is now..
Here's the turf when first laid a few weeks ago..
And here it is now...
I think I showed you the Orange Tip eggs on the Lady's Smock? It's the small sticky-outy orange capsule-like thing in the "V" shape of the two green stalks...
It is fascinating watching his behaviour- during the day he barely moves and he never goes far from his egg site at the moment anyway (many caterpillars are nocturnal, keeping safe from day time predators such as birds). He currently measures 3mm long. Given that they reach 31mm before pupating you can see how much eating he's got to do! I'm photographing him everyday to record his growth.
I also finally saw a Broad Bodied Chaser Dragonfly in the garden today. I've seen four empty nymph cases (exuvia) around the pond over the last 2-3 weeks, but apart from a brief glimpse of one who was sunbathing on my jeans on the washing line at the weekend, the dragons themselves have eluded me. Lovely, isn't he, and worth the wait.
Moth visitors to the garden are slowly improving too, with several new species turning up over the last week. Highlights include FOUR Poplar Hawks yesterday, one of whom has laid eggs on the cardboard egg boxes so I shall be raising those if they hatch.
White Ermines have also arrived...
As has the Peppered Moth...
Cinnabar moths have also returned. They are toxic to birds- the caterpillars feed on ragwort, ingest the plant's poisons and store them in their bodies. The red and black colours of the moth and the yellow and black of the pillar are known as aposematic coloration which warns predators of the danger.
Clouded Borders are also around, very delicate little moths that look more like butterflies, except for the lack of a club on the end of the antennae...
And this delicate little moth is called a Little Thorn. I've never seen one with wings open before as they almost always rest with them closed...
An Old Favourite, the Muslin..
And another Old Favourite, The Spectacle (you'll see why in the second pic down)...
The elegant Swallow Prominent...
Although I think it has been a slow spring moth-wise, I'm up to 60 species for the garden, which isn't too bad. Last year I recorded 311 confirmed IDs during the year so it'll be interesting to see whether we match it. There are some species (most notably the Green Silver Lines which is a very beautiful moth) that I saw in 2013 and haven't seen since which I would dearly love to see again, so fingers crossed for those.
I popped over to college earlier to do my transect, grabbing the sunny weather while I can. There aren't many flutters out at the moment- it's been too cold, sunless and windy for them, but I was lucky and the sun came out and the wind dropped while I was there, so I have some lovely Blue People to show you and one Green Person :o)
|Common Blue male|
|Common Blue Male|
|Common Blue Male|
|Common Blue Male (see the under wing spots showing through?)|
|Common Blue Male|
|Common Blue Male|
|Kidney Vetch - the reason we have the rare Small Blue on site|
|Small Blue with a liberal dusting of blue scales|
|Small Blues x3|
|Small Blues mating|
Thanks for bearing with all the pics and that rather long post! It's a busy time of year for insects :o)
I'll leave you with some Calendula from the garden and a small bunch of home-grown blooms I picked, and wish you all a pleasant evening. I am spending mine in the woods with a couple of friends beside a badger sett hoping to see some Brocks in the Wild :o)
I'll let you know how we get on....