30 Days Wild – Day 27 – Trench Wood

It’s Day 27 of 30 Days Wild and we’re back on the butterfly hunt, this time in beautiful Trench Wood, Worcestershire. Not looking for anything new as such, just hoping for sightings of some old favourites and Trench Wood never disappoints. The place was absolutely heaving with butterflies and insects of all sorts.

Most notable today were the ringlets – they were everywhere, we must have seen hundreds. I don’t think we’ve ever seen so many, every step we took seemed to scatter more off the path. It was lovely to see, as I’d been starting to worry that we’d not seen so many this year. There were mating pairs too (in one case a trio, with an overly enthusiastic extra male!) doing their thing in the sunshine.

Meadow Browns were also common, although not nearly as abundant as the ringlets.

There were plenty of skippers, most being Large like this one with its hooked antennae.

But there were also a few Small Skippers – distinguished by their orange tipped, clubbed antennae. This one is a male with a diagonal scent brand across the wing (thank you to Mike Williams on Facebook for confirming this).

Once again the White Admirals proved elusive. There were quite a few present, but as usual they refused to settle long enough for a decent photo – here’s my best but still poor effort.

The one we really went looking for today was the Silver-washed Fritillary and in this at least we were fairly successful. Initial sightings were just glimpses as they bombed past us, but eventually we tracked down a few more obliging ones. Chris got the best photos, not just because he is a better photographer, but because he is taller than me and they tended to land quite high!

Surprise “bag” of the day was a Purple Hairstreak. Chris spotted it and got just the one photo before it was off. A great find and addition to this year’s tally.

A variety of moths were out and about too. Some tiny ones like this Nettle Tap,

others slightly larger like this Clouded Border,

and others simply stunning like this Scarlet Tiger and Five Spot Burnet.

Damselflies, demoiselles and dragonflies were all fairly common around the pond. I think we saw both Beautiful and Banded demoiselles, azure and large red damselflies and these two splendid dragonflies. The top one is a female darter (either common or ruddy) and the blue one at the bottom is a male Emperor dragonfly.

There were of course bees and hoverflies everywhere, but there just wasn’t time to do those as well today – so many insects so little time! But there were a few other things that took our fancy. This Long-horned beetle was stunning, although we hadn’t noticed all the tiny beetles around it when we took the photo.

And finally I got a photo of a Scorpion Fly – I’ve been trying to get one of these for weeks now. Only trouble is, every single one we saw was a female, so none had the distinctive scorpion tail which only the males have. So the hunt goes on!

So all in all another fabulous day out and probably one of our most insect laden ones to date. Day 27 of 30 days wild and we’re still finding things that surprise and delight!

 

30 Days Wild – Day 4 – Garden Bioblitz Part 2

It’s day 4 of 30 Days Wild and I spent the morning taking more photos of the wildlife for our Garden Bioblitz. I’d started the bioblitz at about 09:30 yesterday, so I was trying to cram in as many more species as I could before 09:30 this morning. This wasn’t helped by the fact that my camera has packed in (I hope temporarily) so I was having to use Chris’s camera and swap lenses back and forth.

The day started at 04:30 to beat the birds to the contents of the moth trap. I had hoped for a good haul to boost my species tally, but the trap was fairly quiet – possibly because it had been quite windy last night. Still there were some nice moths including a few of these beautiful and distinctive Angle Shades – virtually impossible to mistake these for anything else, which I like in a moth!

Star of the moth show was the Elephant Hawkmoth making a timely debut for the year in our garden. I’ll never tire of these stunning moths with their bright pink bodies. If you were to make a toy moth, I reckon this would be it.

I put a specimen of each moth in the fridge (it does no harm but keeps them calm until  you can photograph them) and went back to bed for a couple of hours. 8 o’clock though and I was back up photographing said moths, then scouring the garden for more wildlife. I hadn’t managed to photograph any birds yesterday, so I topped up the feeders and waited expectantly to see what would show up. As usual the sparrows were the first to show, landing on last year’s teasels to check things out before heading to the bird table.

The starlings and jackdaws came next, followed by the blackbirds and pigeons.

There were several no shows for birds that normally frequent the garden – no sign of the robin, wren, collared doves, great tits or gold finches. A blue tit just appeared in the last minutes to scrape into the bioblitz total. For the last few days I’d been seeing a big black bird, bigger then the jackdaws, so was disappointed initially when it didn’t show for the camera. But then I downloaded the trail camera which had been running for the last couple of days and there he was – a carrion crow.

The trail cam also picked up a couple of hedgehogs – one of which looks like our old foster hedgehog Meadow – i.e. it was a big chunky looking hog!

There were of course bees in the garden, although being a busy bee myself chasing everything else around I didn’t actually manage to get that many photos of them. But here are two favourites – a Buff-tailed Bumblebee and a Common Carder Bee.

There was also this bumblebee mimicking hoverfly (Merodon equestris).

Our snails were also being sneeky and hiding away over the last 24 hours – several species that I know we get refused to show. Fortunately both the White Lipped (top) and Brown Lipped (below) appeared out of the Pendulous Sedge to get their photos taken.

I also found three species of slug including this large yellow one and the stripy ones which I think are Iberian slugs.

I spotted this tiny nymph of the Speckled Bush Cricket, when I saw its antennae poking over the edge of a buttercup. Unfortunately the buttercup was blowing about in the wind a bit – hence the less than perfect focussing!

While turning over stones, I disturbed loads of woodlice. The top one is a Common Striped Woodlouse and the ones below that are Common Rough Woodlice. The bottom pinky one may just be a variant of the latter, but I hoping it might be a 3rd species – just waiting for someone on i-Spot to confirm one way or another.

 

Beetles are the largest insect group in the world, so it would have been a bit weird if I hadn’t found any in the garden. My favourite Swollen-thighed beetle of course appeared, but so did this lovely shiny Black Clock Beetle.

This tiny carpet beetle was making the most of the flowers.

One group I’ve never really studied is the centipedes/millipedes. This beauty turned up under an old piece of wood. I’ve yet to work out the species though (suggestions gratefully received).

So that’s a selection of our bioblitz species for 2017. As always I ran out of time, so didn’t manage to root about in the pond, or look for ants, flies, grass moths and a host of other things. It was also a bit disappointing that no butterflies or shieldbugs or ladybirds appeared in the last 24 hours, but then that’s the way it goes. The bioblitz is just a snapshot of what you can find in the garden over a day. I love that it gets me looking for groups that I don’t normally study (easy to get in a bit of a rut with the bees and moths and butterflies and forget the others sometimes) – always good to broaden my wildlife horizons.

I’m still identifying photos and gradually uploading them to the i-Record website, so I won’t know the final tally for a while yet. So far I’ve only managed to load 32 species, which apparently puts me 10th on the bioblitz league table. Sounds good until I realised the person in the top spot at the moment has 167 species – I’ve got a way to go yet!

 

The Darling Bugs Of May

Apologies for the title, couldn’t resist a bad pun! After the quiet winter and early spring months, all the insects are suddenly emerging in May. It feels like our garden is gearing itself up again ready for the 30 Days Wild in June. Everywhere I look there is something buzzing (everywhere except the bee hotel I’ve put up which is of course silent!)

May wouldn’t be May with out the arrival of the May Bugs in the moth trap. These huge beetles can apparently be a pest for farmers, but I love seeing them. They are fascinating animals and I can still remember my amazement the first time I found one in the moth trap a few years ago. (Chris wasn’t so excited when I woke him up to show him my find!)

One of the areas particularly buzzing at the moment is a patch of poached egg flowers that I’d sown last year. I’d forgotten about them, but they all popped back again this year and look fantastic. I’d grown them originally as I’d read they were good for hoverflies – not sure about that but the bees love them!

Most of the bees are plain old honey bees (very welcome all the same of course).

There were also a few of these very small furrow bees Lasioglossum sp. It’s virtually impossible to get this one to species level without killing and examining it, which I’m not prepared to do, so it will have to remain a sp.

This next bee is one of the yellow faced bees – Hylaeus sp. Unfortunately since I didn’t manage to get a shot of its face, I also can’t identify this one to species. But since I’ve not recorded any other Hylaeus, I’ve counted this as bee species number 30 for the garden!

This next one did get identified to species (not by me but by a kind soul on facebook) as Osmia caerulescens – the Blue Mason Bee. This was also a new species for the garden, making 31 in total now over the last 2 years!

The bees weren’t the only ones enjoying a poached egg. This beetle (some kind of click beetle I think) spent a long time perusing the flowers.

This Hairy Shieldbug didn’t move much, just seemed to be using the flowers as a vantage point to survey the garden!

And of course my favourite – the Swollen Thighed Beetle had to get in on the act, displaying his fat thighs nicely.

The poached egg plants weren’t favoured by all the bees; some preferred other flowers like this Early Bumblebee on the alliums

and this Common Carder bee on a campion.

Somewhat inevitably the new bee hotel that I put up in the spring has been virtually ignored by all the bees. But at least it provided a resting place for this shieldbug.

The hoverflies were supposed to be interested in the poached egg flowers, but like most things in the garden, they never do what I expect! This little marmalade hoverfly preferred this small yellow flower to the slightly brash poached eggs.

This large fat bumblebee-mimicking hoverfly (Merodon equestris) preferred just to perch on the leg of the bird table. Even when I had to move the bird table to a different part of the garden, the hoverfly followed it over – no idea why?

After a very quiet spring moth-wise, May has finally brought an increase in their numbers to the moth trap. The moths of winter and early spring are generally fairly subdued looking, so it’s always nice when some of the more interesting species start emerging. I love this Pale Tussock with its lovely furry legs.

The Buff Tip is a regular visitor to our garden – it has the amazing ability to look just like a broken twig.

The hawkmoths are the biggest of our native species. Over the years we’ve had Elephants, Small Elephants, Eyed and Poplar Hawk-moths but never a Lime one. So I was thrilled when not one but two turned up last night!

With more moths emerging, more of their foes have emerged too. This beautiful but deadly (if you’re a moth of the wrong species) wasp Ichneumon stramentor parasitizes moth caterpillars.

As well as all of the above, there have been plenty of beetles, flies, caddis flies, daddy longlegs and other insects buzzing around this May, I just haven’t managed to take any photos of those. Something for another blog post maybe. But finally one of my favourite images from the month, a ladybird, even if it is a Harlequin rather than one of our native ones.

30 Days Wild – Day 25

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_25

 

Day 25 of 30 Days Wild and I was up at the crack of dawn to empty the moth trap (thrilled by the way to get my first ever Shark moth, but I’ll do a moth blog another day). Since I was up and about on a Saturday morning long before the other half surfaced, I decided to spend an hour or so watching our wildflower “meadow” to see what if anything was using it. I did blog about our mini meadow a week or so ago, but I focused then mainly on the flowers, so this time I thought I’d look at the insect life. After all the whole point of it was to attract the insects.

So I watched for about an hour until the skies opened and it started chucking it down – I am a fair weather naturalist, so I retreated indoors at that point. I did pop out again later when the sun came out again and snapped a few more just to finish off.

So not too surprisingly the bees were the most abundant visitors and several species as well which was great. The Phacelia flowers were probably doing the most business, including both a Red and a Buff Tailed Bumblebee. I love the way the red one has co-ordinated his pollen sacs with his red bum!

Red tailed bumblebee

Bee on Phacelia

But the borage too was getting a fair few visitors. I think this is probably a Tree Bumblebee coming in to land.

Bee on Borage

I did at one point start to get “bee envy” when I noticed that this plant (no idea what it is?) in the neighbours garden was actually getting more bees than my patch. But then since it overhangs our fence, many of the bees were technically in our garden – so I’m counting them as ours!

Bee next door

The bee highlight of the day was spotting this one on the chamomile flowers. It looked a bit different to others I’d seen so I stuck the photo on Facebook and someone kindly identified it as Colletes sp. for me – another new genus for the garden, taking our total to 23 this year. Colletes are known as the Plasterer bees, because of the way they line their nests with a secretion a bit like plaster!

Colletes sp.

The next group of visitors was the hoverflies. I saw at least 3 species on the mini meadow (although there were plenty of others around the rest of the garden). Afraid I don’t know the species for these 3 yet, although the bottom one looks like it might be another bumblebee mimic.

Small Hoverfly

Small Hoverfly 2

Large Hoverfly 2

The Swollen-thighed Beetles of course couldn’t miss a photo opportunity and were flaunting their generous curves at every opportunity.

Swollen thighed

There were various other small beetles usually nestled right in the middle of the flowers and impossible to get a decent photo of. But this one decided to land on my arm and after a bit of contorting I managed to get a photo of it. Must have thought my lily-white skin was some kind of giant flower – a disappointment no doubt!

Beetle on arm

Spotted these interesting flies on one of the thistle leaves. There was a pair of them – possibly a mating pair – and this one kept sort of stepping back then raising and lowering its wings at the other one. Perhaps some kind of mating ritual or signalling. There is a group of flies called Signal Flies, so perhaps that is what these were?

Signal fly

On the more gruesome side of things, the teasel leaves had formed mini pools at the point they joined the stem. These pools were full of dead and decaying insects – a bit like those tropical pitcher plants that drown animals then live off the nutrients! I don’t think the teasels were going that far, but other things were – there were clearly larvae of something (midges perhaps) in the water that were feeding off the dead insects. Sorry the photo doesn’t really capture that, with hindsight maybe I should have used some fancy polarising gizmo on the lens?

Mini pools

The final gruesome twist to my otherwise idyllic hour, was spotting this crab spider with his unfortunate victim – one of my beloved bees! The bee was still alive and I did consider rescuing it, but then I thought “What would Chris Packham do?” – almost certainly not save it! The crab spider has to eat too and it looked like he’d already got his fangs into the bee, so it was probably a goner anyway. Wasn’t expecting to witness “nature raw in tooth and claw” quite so vividly today!

Spider with bee

My hour by the flowers was very relaxing. The birds got accustomed to me sitting there and after a while came back to the bird feeders nearby, unbothered by my presence. A frog even started moving in the undergrowth near my feet. I guess I must be naturally very good at sitting still doing nothing for an hour!

 

Lavender 30 WEEDS

And finally the weed for the day of my 30 Lazy Garden Weeds. Lavender – not a weed in the conventional sense, but it does keep seeding itself all over the garden and I have even been forced on occasion to weed some of it out (shock horror!) The smell and the colour are of course lovely and the bees go nuts for it. It’s just coming into flower about now. I did try a few years ago making Lavender essence – not a great success, I ended up with a jar of dingy looking liquid that somehow smelled of lavender but not in a good way. I tried a few drops in a macaroon mix and they ended up tasting like soap! But apart from my culinary failures, it is a lovely plant that would be welcome in most gardens.

30 Days Wild – Day 24

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_24Day 24 of 30 Days Wild and this is the first day I haven’t really had chance to get out and about doing something wild. Instead, having got home from a trying day at work (not to mention the vote!), I thought I’d spend the evening on the sofa (with very large glass of wine) and analyse the results from our Garden Bioblitz of a couple of weeks ago. It took me a couple of weeks to get all the photos identified and logged onto the Bioblitz website and I’ve been so busy since, that I’ve not really had chance to sit back and really see what we found. So tonight’s the night.

All the results had to be logged by last Monday. So I got as many on the database as I could. There were still quite a few things that I’d got photos of but couldn’t identify – either due to my lack of skills in ID or my lack of skills as a photographer! So we potentially had a few more than the final tally shows. But equally I may have got some things wrong, so they won’t be allowed when the experts check everything, so perhaps that balances it out? So our grand total was 119 species and I was thrilled to discover that our little garden is currently 13th in the Recorders League table. I took this screenshot from the Bioblitz website – just in case no-one believed me! I’ve obscured the names of the people ahead of me – not in some jealous pique (although I am jealous), but in case I was breaching anyone’s privacy by leaving in the full names.

Trending

119 species isn’t bad for an ordinary town garden like ours, so I’m really pleased. Of course if we’d had more time, we could have raised this figure, but then that was the whole point of the Bioblitz – it was what you could find in 24 hours.

So our 119 species covered a pretty broad spectrum of flora and fauna. Maybe not surprisingly the moths represented our biggest group – 42 species in total. This probably reflects our experience with moths – we’ve been moth trapping for a few years, so can identify most of the common species. There were probably just as many fly species in the garden that day, but we didn’t have the skills to ID them.

Spruce CarpetOf the 42 species of moth some were perennial favourites and spectacular ones like the Elephant Hawkmoth, but others were just as exciting as they were “firsts” for our garden – like this Spruce Carpet. (Our moth list for 2016 to date is currently 97 species!)

CJL_5302Bees were of course one of our prime targets and I was pleased we spotted 8 species that day. We’ve actually found 22 species this year, but to get 8 in the one day wasn’t bad. But the bee highlight was seeing this little chap flying around carrying his precious leaf – a Leaf Cutter Bee and a first for the garden.

 

Iberian SlugMolluscs might have done better if it had been a rainier day (if we’d done the bioblitz the following week, we’d have done really well by that reckoning!) But we still managed a respectable 7 species – 4 snails and 3 slugs. One of the slugs was even a new one for the garden, although I suspect they’ve been around for ages and we’ve just not bothered to identify them. It was this Striped Slug – Ambigolimax valentianus no less!

Bordered Shieldbug

We got two species of Shieldbug on the day, but again one of them was new to us – this Bordered Shieldbug, which I initially thought was just a small beetle, until I enlarged the photo. Really chuffed to be able to add this species to our Shieldbug list – currently 8 now I think.

 

Sexton beetleBeetles came in at 8 species (11 species actually if you include the ladybirds which I had counted separately). Beetles are a group that we’re just getting in to, trying out pitfall traps to see what we’ve got. This one however flew into the moth trap. It is a Black Sexton Beetle and was absolutely covered in these mites. It looks lifeless in this photo, but honest it was just playing dead, because as soon as I turned away it was off. The mites are apparently harmless and just hitch a ride to the next dead animal that they and the beetle feed off. Can’t help thinking that so many mites must be really irritating though and affect his flight?

Lucilia green bottleThere were of course flies buzzing about all the time, but with virtually no knowledge of this group we didn’t pay them too much attention. This big Greenbottle though was quite photogenic and the good people of iSpot identified it to genus for us – Lucilia sp. We did manage to get 2 other fly species to genus as well, but they weren’t as “pretty” as this one!

Frog hopperOne of my favourite finds of the day was this Red & Black Leafhopper, which I’d previously only seen in photos. Not seen it in the garden before or since, but I’m glad it chose that day to make an appearance! It was a stunning little insect, so I hope we see more of them.

 

 

JackdawFor the birds we only managed a slightly disappointing 8, all of which were the usual suspects like robins, blue tits and this Jackdaw. We do get quite a few other species, but I suppose it was a bit much to expect the Sparrowhawk to make an appearance within those 24 hours!

 

FrogAnd finally for the animals, we managed a grand total of 3 vertebrates – a frog, a newt and the hedgehog.  The bats were around, but we didn’t actually see them in our garden and without photographic evidence (still not worked out how to get a photo of one flying), I’m not sure the Bioblitz database would accept them.

 

PimpernelOf course the Bioblitz included plants as well as animals. I did originally intend to go around the garden the week before and pre-identify all the plants, then all I’d have to do on the day was take a quick snap of each. But of course that didn’t happen, so instead we zigzagged about the garden photographing everything in sight with no real plan. But we still managed to record 24 species. With hindsight I realised we didn’t make any attempt at the grasses, the mosses, the lichens – oops!

Beside all of the above we also saw 1 butterfly, 2 crustaceans (woodlouse and water louse), 1 hoverfly, 2 spiders, 1 earwig, 1 weevil, 1 cranefly and 1 leech (from the pond), which round off our 119 species.

This is the second time we’ve done the Bioblitz and I find it a really interesting thing to do. I think lots of people would be amazed at how much is going on in their gardens if they just took a day to have a look!

Daisy Fleabane 30 WEEDSAnd finally as always the latest weed in 30 Lazy Garden Weeds – this daisy like flower is, I think, Fleabane. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to spot it during the Bioblitz, although it was almost certainly growing in the garden at the time, so that’s another species missed. These little flowers always remind me of kids’ drawings – what an archetypal flower looks like – petals sticking out all round a central disc. There’s something charming about them, so as always they are welcome in the Too Lazy garden!

30 Days Wild – Day 20

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_20Day 20 of 30 Days Wild and it’s the mid summer solstice – extra time to do something wild! It’s also the start of National Insect Week – a celebration of all things insect related. I could have marked the summer solstice by staying up all night, but since I’ve got work tomorrow, it seemed more prudent to celebrate National Insect Week instead!

NIW_Logo_FBWe’re lucky in that we get loads of insects in the garden, so I thought I’d have a look this afternoon and see how many of the different groups of insect I could find. Insects are an incredibly diverse group, but all have an exoskeleton, 3 pairs of legs and a three part body. It’s amazing how you can take that basic body scheme and turn it into such a wide variety of shapes and sizes!

So in no particular order here are some of the insects I found in the garden this afternoon. First up the ants, surely one of the most populous insect groups on earth. I’ve no idea what species this is, forming an ant hill in our lawn, but we’ve got an awful lot of them!

Ants

Flies may not be the most popular or the most attractive group of insects, but they are fascinating when you look at them close up like this. (Photos like this do always remind me of the Jeff Goldblum film The Fly though!)

Fly

Hoverflies belong in the same group (Diptera) as the fly above – they are all considered True Flies. We get loads of hoverflies in the garden, although of course few showed their faces tonight because I was looking for them. Some are small and skinny like this Sphaerophoria species.

Hoverfly Sphaerophoria

While others are bigger and chunkier like this Common Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax), which looks more like a bee.

Eristalis tenax

Aphids or greenfly are not true flies and are certainly the bane of many a gardeners’ life. But they all have their place in the food chain, being fodder for amongst other things the ladybirds.

Aphids

I couldn’t resist posting this photo below of a Woolly Aphid – I didn’t see one today, this was taken a few weeks ago during the Bioblitz – but it is so darn cute close up, I just had to include it.

Woolly aphid

Crickets and grasshoppers are just starting to appear again in the garden. This grasshopper was pinging about our very weedy drive when I got home today.

Grasshopper

Shieldbugs like the one below are in the same super group of insects (Hemiptera) as the aphids, although they don’t look anything like each other.

Shieldbug

I had hoped a butterfly would make an appearance, but none obliged this afternoon. So the Lepidoptera today are represented by the only moth I could find – this Mint Moth. In the summer we have loads of these fluttering around the herbs – they don’t restrict themselves to just mint!

Mint moth

Of course I had to include a bee photo. Although there were plenty flying around this afternoon, it was a bit windy, so I had problems with the flowers blowing around as I tried to take photos. I think this is just about recognisable as a Buff-tailed Bumblebee though.

Bumblebee

Beetles make up the group Coleoptera and again are hugely diverse. I found this one in the pitfall trap this afternoon.

Beetle

So that’s all the insect groups I could find today in the garden. Not bad although there are of course lots of others not represented – dragonflies & damselflies, earwigs, ladybirds (although these are a type of beetle), froghoppers, lacewings, caddisflies – the list goes on. Over an average summer we’ll see examples of most of these in our garden – you just need to look and it’s surprising what you can find.

Foxglove 30 WEEDSAnd finally as usual another “weed” from our garden for my 30 Lazy Garden Weeds. This time the Foxglove. I was so pleased to find this growing under the apple tree this week. I’ve tried a few times to get them to grow in the garden – scattering seeds with no success. But this one seems to have seeded itself in here all by itself. Hopefully it will be the first of many. The bees love them and so do I!

 

30 Days Wild – Day 13

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_13Day 13 and it’s Monday – never the most inspiring day of the week and today was a wet one to boot. So I was wondering what to do for 30 Days Wild to lift the spirits. On the way home I pass an open area that is basically just a very wide verge along the side of the road. As the sun finally came out at this point, I stopped to take a look. We went butterfly spotting here last year as it attracts a lot of species – Marbled Whites, Small Coppers, Blues, Skippers etc. So I hoped it might have something today too. It may not have been the perfect weather, but the area was buzzing with life.

View

Malvern Council thankfully don’t cut the long grass here (apart from a stretch right next to the road) until after the summer, so there are lots of flowers and insects. Yellow Rattle (below) was a common plant, with lots red and white clover, buttercups and even an orchid.

Yellow Rattle

orchid

The first insect I spotted was an old favourite – the Seven Spot Ladybird (although it did seem to have a couple of extra spots down one side strangely).

7 spot ladybird

The cornflowers were all full of ants – you can just about make them out in the middle of the photo below.

cornflower

The cow parsley was particularly popular with the insects – like this large yellow sawfly and several day flying moths below.

sawfly

moth 2

The clover and yellow rattle were particularly popular with the bees.

red clover

DSC_5543

This elongated beetle was a new one for me – it is a Click Beetle. Apparently they make a clicking noise when disturbed. It’s probably a good job I didn’t realise this at the time or I might have been tempted to disturb the poor thing to get a click!

Click beetle

Each step I took through the grass seemed to produce movement as crickets leapt out of the way of my big feet. I find them really hard to take photos of, as they always seem to swivel around bits of grass so they are at the opposite side! But I finally found one whose legs seemed to be almost too long for him – he seemed to be struggling to control his gangly limbs, which made him easier to photograph. I’ve since learnt that he (or she) is probably a Roesel’s Bush Cricket.

cricket

Of all the insects I saw this afternoon, the one group that was a bit under-represented was the butterflies – perhaps the sun just hadn’t warmed things up enough. I only saw one in the time I was there – a Large Skipper. It was of course too fast for my slow Monday legs to catch, so the photo below is of one Chris happened to spot yesterday elsewhere in Malvern.

Large Skipper

So in the half hour I spent wandering around the verge (getting strange looks from the drivers going by no doubt) I saw a huge variety of insects – ladybirds, ants, beetles, crickets, moths, bees, sawflies and one butterfly! That half hour also revived my flagging Monday spirits and all from a roadside verge! It just shows what a benefit letting verges grow can be for wildlife. I know there are campaigns now to encourage councils to do just that and I couldn’t agree more.

Scarlet Pimpernel 30 WEEDSAnd finally as always the latest weed from our garden for my 30 Lazy Garden Weeds – The Scarlet Pimpernel. The flower itself is small, delicate and very pretty, but what I really like is the glorious name. Memories of cheesy movies  – and the rhyme “The seek him here, they seek him there…” I don’t know about being elusive, but the flower is certainly easily overlooked, but well worth looking out for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days Wild – Day 10

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_10Day 10 of 30 Days Wild and it’s our wedding anniversary! Seventeen (in)glorious years! 17 doesn’t seem to be one of those anniversaries where you buy something special – 2 for paper, 25 for silver etc., but Chris has just bought himself (sorry us!) a Pit BBQ, so I guess it’s become the BBQ anniversary.

ProseccoI had planned to eat outside this evening anyway – I’d ordered American crayfish (the ones you’re supposed to eat to protect out native ones) from our fish supplier at work, but sod’s law being what it is, they couldn’t get any this week. So it’s a burger instead – not quite got the same cache, but what can you do. I’m sitting typing outside while the coals heat up and it’s starting to drizzle – sometimes life just doesn’t quite live up to expectations. But it is at least warm drizzle and it’s Friday night and I’m outside, so not really complaining.

When we got married in Scotland all those moons ago, the dolphins in Aberdeen harbour appeared and put on a display that felt like it was just for us. 17 years later and we haven’t got anything quite so spectacular to help us celebrate, but I’m honestly just as happy watching the wildlife in our garden. There’s something special about knowing that the bees and the birds are all there in part at least because of our lazy attitude to weeding and organic approach to gardening.

Asparagus beetleWe decided to grill some of the asparagus from the garden, but first we had to remove its residents – the asparagus beetles. They are such striking beetles, it’s just a pity they have quite such a taste for our asparagus. Fortunately for them there was a lot of asparagus left that we’d let grow too big – so it was too tough for us to eat, but the beetles didn’t seem to mind.

Even though it was not exactly a sunny evening, the bees and hoverflies were out in force. I particularly liked this Early Bumblebee, such a brightly coloured  little guy.

Early bumblebee

Managed to get photos of 2 species of hoverfly tonight – one large one (Narcissus Bulb Fly) and a much smaller one (Marmalade Hoverfly).

Narcissus bulb fly

Marmalade

Bought flowersChris had bought me a large bunch of flowers, which we took outside to decorate the table for the BBQ. They were big, bold, beautiful flowers, but for all the time they were out in the garden, none of the bees or hoverflies came anywhere near them. They clearly preferred our native weeds, as they flew right past the vase even though it was very close to the natural flowers. Again it sort of justifies our decision to have a “wild” garden, as we’d much rather have the subtler British flowers buzzing with insects, than the showier cultivated varieties.

Corydalis 30 WEEDSAnd finally as always the latest weed in my 30 Lazy Weeds from our garden – Yellow Corydalis. This is apparently a garden escapee that originally grew in the Alps, but has now spread round Britain. I probably shouldn’t like it as it is a non-native plant, but it’s hard not to like. I’ve always been attracted to plants with more unusual shaped flowers or leaves and the little yellow trumpets fit into this category. It grows easily in shade and unloved areas of the garden, so brightens up our driveway no end.