It may be that I have too much time on my hands as I spent about 10 minutes yesterday waiting for this little snail to come out of its shell, so that I could get this “action shot”! It is almost certainly one of the Glass Snails, named for their glossy, see-through shells. The trouble is there are three very similar species and the identification depends a lot on their smell. The Garlic Snail apparently smells strongly of garlic when disturbed. There is also the brilliantly named Slightly Garlic Snail, which only smells slightly of garlic. Then of course there is the one that doesn’t smell of garlic at all (I really wish they’d called this the Not At All Garlic Snail, but the powers that be went with Draparnaud’s Glass Snail, which shows a serious lack of humour). So not only did I spend 10 minutes watching this snail, I also had to sniff it – I really hope the neighbours didn’t see that one. The trouble is how strong does a garlic smell have to be, before it ceases to be only slightly garlicky? And could I really even smell garlic at all? Perhaps my snail wasn’t “disturbed” enough to be giving off the appropriate whiff of moules mariniere? So I have returned him, unidentified, to his damp corner of the garden, where he can continue to smell (or not smell) of garlic in peace.
Today has been a miserable wet day (the perfect excuse for not weeding!), but it’s given me the chance to sort through some of the photos we took doing a couple of Big Butterfly Counts out and about yesterday. After a cloudy start, the sun did eventually shine down on the righteous and we saw loads of butterflies. We even managed to spot the only two moths included in The Count – the resident Six Spot Burnett and the migrant Silver Y. Both species fly by day and are easy to identify – the Burnett with 6 distinctive red spots on a black background and the Silver Y with a white mark on its wings that’s supposed to look like the letter Y (although unless you have scruffy handwriting like mine, this may not be so obvious).
We also saw two of my favourite butterflies; the Marbled White and the Small Copper. Unless your garden has sweeping grasslands, you are unlikely to get these at home, but they’re worth looking out for in the countryside. Last year we spent ages traipsing about looking for our first glimpse of a Marbled White; this year we’ve found a colony of them on a roadside about 5 minutes from home!
The weather’s not been brilliant, but we have managed to do at least one Big Butterfly Count in the garden already. Maybe not spectacular results, but 10 individuals of 6 species isn’t bad in 15 minutes. Getting their 15 minutes of fame were 4 Gatekeepers, 2 Large Whites, 1 Small White, 1 Ringlet, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Comma. The buddleia bush was not surprisingly a favourite for this season’s butterflies to be seen on, but our scabby old blue lounger proved popular with the Comma. Still plenty more time to get out and do a count – you’ve got until the 9th August.
The annual Big Butterfly Count starts tomorrow. It’s a chance for everyone to get involved counting butterflies (and a few moths) to improve our knowledge of their populations. This in turn helps the conservationists plan how best to protect our British butterflies. All it takes is 15 minutes of your time. You can do your count anywhere – at home, at work, out on a walk, at the pub, wherever you fancy. Full details can be found at: http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/
I’ll aim to do several counts in the garden here over the coming weeks and hopefully post a few photos – assuming some butterflies make an appearance!
A miserable rainy night yesterday. Not ideal for the moth trap or for traipsing round the garden in your dressing gown at 4am to rescue soggy egg boxes full of moths. But it was all worth it when this Leopard Moth showed its spots in the trap. They’re supposedly reasonably common, but this is the first one I’ve seen in the garden. My lovely little leopard brings the number of moth species seen in our garden this year up to a total of 107! Not bad considering we’re only just over half way through the year. You’d never know most of these moths were around (unless you go camping and have to use an outside loo at night with the light on) as they disappear to who knows where during the day.
Too Lazy To Weed is alive!!!
Finally got around to starting the blog to share the wildlife we find in our garden. Of course if I’d been organised, I’d have started this at New Year or the mid-summer solstice or some other vaguely notable date. Instead I’ve started on a wet Monday in mid July when nothing particularly special is happening in the garden. But then that’s the thing – there is actually stuff going on in the garden ALL the time; you just need to look for it. There are insects and birds and hedgehogs all doing their thing, getting on with their lives whether you watch them or not. And the beauty of watching the wildlife in your own garden is that you can do it all from a deckchair with a glass of wine in your hand (or maybe that’s just me?) – no need for fancy equipment or expensive expeditions (apart from the odd trip to the shops if you run out of said wine).
So if anyone other than me and my long-suffering family ever read this, I hope they enjoy the photos and my rambling thoughts on life in a scruffy little organic garden.