A swarm of Bees has taken up residence in the chimney pot. Apparently, this isn't good news so unless they decide to vacate their new home we'll have to get them moved on. My neighbour is keeping her aga on in an attempt to gently dissuade them from staying and the garden smells of aga fumes as a result :o(
Meanwhile, in what is quite possibly the hottest week of the year so far, it looks like we'll be having fires every night this week in the hope of smoking them out (humanely, of course), otherwise it'll be a cherry pickers or scaffolding and heaven knows what that's going to cost. If only they'd chosen the oak tree instead...
I'm going to have a word with them later (when no-one's listening) to see whether I can persuade them to move on :o)
While putting clothes away I discovered a Great Tit sitting on the maps in F's room. This is a Perfectly Normal Occurrence in this house. Most weeks something small and wild can be found wandering around or flying about in one room or another. Last year we were woken by a wren buzzing about our heads early one morning, last month one of the Robins came in, left a calling card on my jewellery box and took himself out again, of course there are often stray moths left in the house who need escorting back outside and today a Rose Chafer Beetle decided to investigate the breakfast room and was avidly watched by a fascinated Poppy. Less welcome was the Queen Hornet who found her way into our bedroom last week and required Considerable Bravery and Daring Do on my part to get her back outdoors without stinging occurring.
Anyway, the GT flew out the window once I'd opened it and showed him the way.
I have Mystery Flowers growing in the Wild Flower Patch. Can anyone enlighten me?
This next one is Poor Man's Orchid, one of my faves..
And here's the Wild Flower Patch, coming along nicely (t'other side of the fence)...
Brian (Orange Tip pillar- remember?) grew considerably last week, and then unaccountably shrunk. I was measuring him every day with religious commitment and could not work it out. I'm fairly sure that caterpillars don't shrink. But then I realised that there are two Brians- one, much smaller pillar, came in on the Jack In The Hedge we 'borrowed' (ahem) from the bank on the lane and planted in the pot with the Ladies Smock. Brian 1 is not far off pupating now, having reached close to 30mm, whereas Brian 2 has some way still to go. Once they've pupated I will put them in the butterfly cage and see who comes out.
M tells me I should re-name Brian 2 because it isn't fair on him! So if you have any suggestions....
The Dress is finished! Can't quite believe it, but it is wearable and it fits and my husband likes it. I have some hemming still to do but that won't take long. What do you think? Not bad for a first attempt?
I also whipped up a pair of running shorts over the weekend. I couldn't face going into town and resent spending money on running kit (apart from a decent pair of trainers), and it's too hot for tight lycra, so I had a dig about in the fabric box and made these. I've got to shorten them a wee bit (hence the safety pins), but I ran in them last night and they work just fine.
I've now made up a list of things I want to make (a decent knitting bag, linen trousers, pillow cases and some other bits and bobs) which I will do in Sewing Club this summer. It's great fun, I'm really enjoying it and I'm learning a lot. I've also just bought some new feet for the sewing machine, which will mean I can put in invisible zips and hems :o)
It has been crazy busy here of late (even more than usual), and apart from last night I can't remember the last time we had a night in. Part of this has been due to Nightars and Glow Worms who are out at this time of year after dark.
Here's a short video of the NIghtjars on the Forest calling. If you've not heard them before they make a whirring noise before displaying to the females. They're ground nesting birds who fly in for the summer from Africa to heaths and woodland and they are in decline. They have cryptic camouflage and are very difficult to find by day so your best chance is to go out at dusk or later and listen for them. We did see them displaying but didn't get it on the vid.
We've also been out surveying glow worms and have found them at both the sites we checked (one Heath, one Chalk), which is really pleasing, They are little-studied so there is no consensus on their numbers, although they are believed to be in decline due to loss of habitat and light pollution, which makes it hard for the boys to see the girls.
So few of us are out after dark without lights of some form on these days that my own personal feeling is that there may well be loads of them about, we just don't see them. It makes me smile that many of the reports of GWs come from people walking home from the pub at night too sozzled
Glow worms are actually a type of beetle and it's the females who glow, to attract a mate. Once she's laid eggs she switches off her light and dies. You can see in the pic below that the glow comes from two bars of light which are produced by a biochemical reaction.
Venus and Jupiter are bright in the skies here in the Southern UK at the moment. The night's we've been out surveying have been clear and we've had a good view of both..
I love being out in the countryside after dark, but getting to bed after midnight too many times catches me quicker than it once did and I need a few day's recovery before I can go out again! Back to surveying butterflies tomorrow after teaching a group of year five's this morning.
Amanda of Quiet Walker fame, asked me whether I could put together a list of flutter and moth food plants. I'll do some moth ones in a separate post so these below are for the more common butterflies. The more specialist species tend to be defined by geology. So, for example, many of the Blue Butterflies are Chalk Specialists and feed off Chalk Plants such as rock rose and some of the vetches as a result.
Generally, when a book refers to a 'food plant' it means the plant eaten by the larvae (caterpillar), not the adult. Many adult flutters will feed from a wide variety of plants or nectar sources, any restrictions are usually due to the time of year (eg if they're an early or late species and not much is available). I noted this Spring that the early butterflies almost all feed from Willow Catkins, because it's one of the earliest nectar sources available, and the same is true of moths. In the Autumn its Ivy, because it flowers late and is one of the few plants to produce nectar from Sept/ October onwards when everything else is closing down for the winter.
Plants in itallics in the list below indicate a plant that the adult insect feeds from, those in bold are the food plants for the larvae. Obviously, you need a mix of both if you want to attract lepidoptera (moths and flutters) into your garden and have them breeding there.
The list is not exhaustive, but hopefully gives you an idea of what to plant/ encourage. Thanks, Amanda for asking :o)
Peacock: willow, teasel, buddleia, bramble, lilac, scabious, common nettle.
Red Admiral: buddleia, bramble, fruit trees, common nettle
Comma: willow catkins, buddleia, fallen fruit, common nettle, hop, currants, willows, elms
Small Tortoiseshell: willow catkins, buddleia and other flowering plants, common nettle, small nettle, hop
Large Skipper: scabious, ox eye daisies and other flowering plants, wild grasses, usually Cock's Foot (must be left tall)
Small Skipper: as per Large Skip but prefers Yorkshire Fog grass for egg laying
Brimstone: A number of flowering plants including everlasting sweet peas, scabious, ox eye daisies, Buckthorn & Alder Buckthorn
Orange Tip: variety of flowering plants, Cuckoo Flower, Jack In The Hedge, Charlock, Hairy Rock Cress, Turnip, Winter-Cress
Green Hairstreak: scabious, ox eye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil, rock rose, kidney vetch, birdsfoot trefoil, rockrose, gorse, broom, bilberry
Purple Emperor: aphid honeydew, tree sap, muddy puddle salts, shrimp paste, dog poo, carrion, goat willow (sallow). Requires mature oaks beside Sallow as habitat.
White Admiral: brambles and other woodland flower plants, honeysuckle
Painted Lady: wide variety of flowering plants, thistles
Gate Keeper & Meadow Brown: wide variety of flowering plants, grasses especially: bents, fescues and meadow grasses
Hope that's useful and that all are well?