Nature Diary Catchup

Time for a catch-up on the Nature Diary today. It’s a good day to sit down and write as it’s not very nice weather. The last few days have turned wet and windy which is a real shame after we’ve had some nice dry and warm days.

Before I write about nature in the village, I must update you on my wildflower seedlings…

Back in early April (I forget when exactly) I sowed a bunch of wildflower seeds in a trough shaped container in the front garden. The seedlings were starting to come up in mid-April and I took a photo of one of the tiny seedlings. As they grew I began to realise I had put way to many seeds into this one container – they were crowded together in a big clump! So last weekend I bought some more of the same containers (only £3 in Morrisons), filled them with compost and then spent pretty much all afternoon transplanting seedlings until I ended up with 4 containers full of seedlings! This is them just after I finished – some are looking a bit floppy after the upheaval but they’re alright now. I would take a picture now so you can see how they’re coming along but it is absolutely chucking it down with rain so I’d rather not!

Wildflower seedlings
Wildflower seedlings all in a row

In case you are wondering, yes, there are a few Chives in there too among the seedlings. Bruce was growing them on the windowsill in the kitchen but they didn’t do very well so we thought we’d put them out with the wildflowers and hope they add some nice pinky-purple seed heads to the floral display 🙂 Fingers crossed all these seedlings will do well and we’ll have lots of lovely flowers and the insects will be delighted! I will keep you posted.

So onto the progress of nature round the village…

Everything is looking SO green now! I love the colour of the fresh leaves on the trees. When driving out from the village I go through a woodland area and it’s like a lush tunnel of green 🙂 The hedge is pretty much all greened up and there’s no need to go looking for leaves emerging – they’re all out!

The Aquilegia flowers are now nearly all out (as you may have seen from a previous post) and they are making the hedgerow look elegant and shapely 🙂 There are a few different colours out there. They were tricky to photography during our little walk yesterday as it was so breezy so forgive me if they’re not as good as I would like.

A fairly ‘normal’ coloured Aquilegia – mainly purply
A more unusual very pale pink Aquilegia

Most of the Dandelions now look like this – they’ve gone to seed and most of the seeds have blown away!

Naked Dandelion, feeling a bit embarrassed

There are a lot more Buttercups now – they’ve really taken over from the Celandines. You’d struggle to spot a Celandine now really. The wet meadow down the bottom is full of buttercups, I noticed today while driving past. If the weather calms down at all over the weekend I’d like to try and get a shot of all of them (rather than just a single one in close up).

Glorious golden Buttercup
Is this a different type of Buttercup? Much more green in the petals and the stamens look different too, though that could just be that this one at a different point in its life-cycle

I had a little look at the Redcurrant (not a Hawthorn! LOL) and discovered one or two berries are fattening up nicely. They remind me of Gooseberries at this point with the little lines on them, but I’m fairly sure its a Redcurrant (I think!).

Definitely (probably) a swelling Redcurrant

Back in the garden the Rowan tree is now fully in flower, busy preparing its berries for later in the year!

Rowan flowers

Also in the garden, the Ivy is growing fresh new leaves. This Ivy is growing on the remains of a bush in the corner of the garden. If I remember rightly it was a nice Mallow. I can’t remember what went wrong, but somehow we are left with a woody dead bush. The Ivy totally took over so it looks kind of like it’s still alive. Sadly in the really strong winds earlier in the year it got blown over (so did my gate!) so now it’s leaning at a funny angle. I should sort it out but I’m not sure how. Anyway it doesn’t seem to care what angle it’s at. Ivy is great for insects and it’s one of the last sources of nectar later in the year.

New leaves and old berries on the Ivy

Round in the back garden I checked on the wild Rose and spotted some flower buds! Yay! There will be lovely little pink roses soon to photograph. Watch this space!

Rose buds

There are a lot more insects out and about now. Bruce has seen 2 Damselflies and a Dragonfly in the garden, so I am very jealous! However I have seen many things myself – you’ve seen the Shield Bugs yesterday and there have been many Ladybirds (of various sorts), Dock Leaf Beetles, Weevils, Butterflies, Flies of many kinds (seems to be mainly Dung Flies), Hoverflies, Bees, Wasps … and some weird insects that I couldn’t identify!

This is one I put on Flickr and asked if anyone could ID it. Turns out it’s an Aphid, but it looks so weird because a parasitic wasp has injected it with her eggs. Poor little thing. The Wasp larva will grow inside it and when it’s all grown up it’ll break out of the Aphid, leaving it as a dead empty shell. Sad. But that’s nature – the Wasp has found a great way to keep its larva safe with a great supply of food!

Wasp infested Aphid

Another weird insect is this one. I thought it was some kind of beetle or sawfly but it turns out that it is one of those ‘bad guy’ wasps! Not the one who turned that Aphid brown, but this one goes after caterpillars. Here’s the info I found about it:

“The larva parasitise the Large Yellow Underwing and Setaceous Hebrew Character moth caterpillars (possibly others), the adult wasp lays its eggs inside the caterpillar, the developing larva then eats it from the inside.”

Yuck! However it is a very handsome creature, with its black and yellow colouring and lovely long antennae.

One of the 'bad guys' a wasp called Ichneumon stramentor
One of the ‘bad guys’ a wasp called Ichneumon stramentor

Lastly a mention of the birds – I have seen a Robin often in the back garden poised on one of our garden chairs, and then he dives for something and returns to his perch beak full. So there are baby Robins somewhere nearby! The Great Tits are nesting (I think) in the little gap in the wall where our upstairs loo’s pipe comes out of the house! They’ve nested in there before. Its funny when you’re in the bathroom all quiet and suddenly there’s a chorus of baby birds tweeting when a parent has arrived with food! I don’t think they have babies yet. Not sure about the Jackdaws in the chimney. I heard possible baby noises from the chimney breast in my daughter’s room the other day, but without a nice camera like they have on Springwatch, it’s hard to tell.

On that note – remember, British readers – Springwatch will be back on BBC2 on 26th May at 8pm!

I shall end this mammoth post here, and will keep on looking out of the window in the hope that the weather will improve and I can get out a bit more!

By Suzy Shipman

I like to take photos and write words ...

1 comment

  1. I can imagine your wild flowers will look a riot of colour along by the wall soon … and I’m sure will attract even more bees and insects when they flower. The currant is looking good … red, black or white … we’ll have to wait and see 🙂 Yes, nature isn’t always nice, is it?! … and Ichneumon wasps certainly come into that category! We’ve been watching ‘our’ starlings swooping back and forth feeding their young ones – then, when the parent bird returns there’s a sudden uproar in the nest as they all clamour for the food! We had some blue tits investigating a tiny hole in the side of our house but I think it would have been too small for a nest – though it is amazing where some birds do manage to tuck themselves in. Maybe we should build a nest box for next year 🙂 It’s lovely to see and hear the birds early in the morning.

    Liked by 1 person

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