Damp Dandelion Clocks

This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is ‘All wet’.

There are many dandelion clocks (seed heads) in my garden. Some people don’t like dandelions and treat them as weeds, trying to wipe them out from their neat lawns. Not me. Apart from the fact that I like how they look, they are good food for bees when many other flowers are not yet blooming. And when they go to seed, you get to enjoy their fairy-tale fluffy seeds floating about, and if you’re lucky on a damp morning you may get to capture some droplets of water balanced on their fine fluff.

I went out to see what I could find in the garden this morning…

I love this photo in many ways… it’s just eye-catching and dramatic, but also on the top right there is the tiniest droplet that I didn’t even see when I was taking the picture πŸ™‚
[Click on any of the photos to see them bigger]

This one looked a bit of a mess from a distance, but on closer inspection it has its own beauty:

This one has a lovely sparkle about it:

This one’s quite subtle – there is a droplet right at the bottom:

It wasn’t just the dandelion seed heads catching my eye. The grass was looking pretty too:

There is a dandelion seed in this one too πŸ™‚

And if none of that is wet enough for you… how about this cute little frog in my pond?

I took a little video of Mr Froggie chilling there too, enjoying the sound of the fountain trickling and the birds singing:

If you really enjoy droplets on dandelions, here are a few older shots from 2015 when I went out on a very still morning, after some mist. Don’t think I’ve ever seen so many droplets!

On the Hook, 2/5/20

This week I have been continuing to work on the Pandemonium CAL. I have been loving it, it’s such a fun, relaxing and beautiful blanket to make πŸ™‚ I’m now all caught up so have to wait for more. Next part (11) is due tomorrow.

Here it is at the end of part 9 on Sunday. I love my little pink tulips in a row πŸ™‚

And here it is currently, with part 10 done and waiting for 11.

Did you see what’s in part 10?!?! Yes! Dragonflies! I was so excited when I realised what those 2 little gaps in the rows (at the end of part 9) were going to become! As you will know if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, I LOVE dragonflies and damselflies. I mean, I love most of nature, but dragons and damsels are right there at the top of my list. This CAL is making me so happy, and I am reassured that I made the right decision in changing CALs.

As I now have some waiting in between parts, I fancied making something else in between. I have been frogging the lilac cardi so I could redo it to make it fit better, but frogging is a bit depressing so I decided to start something new. I was looking through the patterns I have and I found one called ‘Leila Sweater’ by Courtney A Clark of ilovetinderbox.com. I looked a the picture and thought, yes this looks good, I’ll make this. And then, when I looked closer at the pattern I realised it uses the same loopy braiding as we’ve done twice in the Pandemonium CAL… so that was it – it was meant to be! I bought a bunch of mint green yarn a while ago, so I’m using that:

Make yourself at home

I spent some time in the garden today watching the solitary bees investigating my bee hotel. One of the holes seemed particularly popular.

Here’s solitary bee 1 helpfully pointing to the most popular hole:

That one up there – it’s lovely
I mean this one, right here, do you see?

In case I needed further persuasion of the benefits of this hole over any of the others, little bee entered to demonstrate…

Ooh it’s a lovely hole indeed

Only to go into reverse rather swiftly on discovering the hole was already occupied!

Eek! Reverse, reverse
See those antennae?! I’d best get out the way
He’s bigger than me! (is it my imagination or does bee 1 look a little horrified?)

Well, bees, there are plenty of holes to choose from, so please do make yourselves at home, there is room for everyone πŸ™‚

Inspired by the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: At Home.

On the Hook, 25/4/20

This week I have been continuing to enjoy the lovely Pandemonium CAL πŸ˜€

This is how it looked in last week’s post:

Parts 1 and 2

By the next day (Sunday) I had finished part 3:

After working from home all day, I finished part 4 on Monday evening. I’d been looking forward to getting back to it all day!

On Tuesday evening I finished part 5:

I slowed down a bit after that, I blame working all day as it’s pretty exhausting. This morning I reached nearly half way through part 7:

I might actually catch up! Part 9 comes out on Sunday so I’m only 1 1/2 parts behind.

Loving this blanket, it’s very relaxing and fun, and beautiful, just what is needed a the moment πŸ™‚

Good Morning Damsels

If I’m lucky, in a couple of weeks, I may have the joy of watching Damselflies emerge from my pond in the morning before starting work (from home), or while I’m having a morning tea break. The end of April / beginning of May seems to be the time for it, looking back through my photos. Most emerge in the morning, so that’s the best time to see it. Once they’ve cast off their larval casing they’re pretty vulnerable as they have to wait until they are able to fly, which can take a while, so I guess the morning is the safest time for them to do this.

So while the coronavirus situation is horrible, it’s nice to find positives to the need to work from home. Fingers crossed there will be new damsels to see this year. Here are some freshly emerged damsels from previous years…

This one doesn’t look that fresh but I took the photo on 20th April 2019, so it can’t have been out for long. The realisation that that was a year ago tomorrow sent me out in the garden to double check for damsels in the middle of writing this post! There weren’t any signs as yet.
I was so excited to see this first damsel emerging from my pond (in 2016), as it meant that my pond was approved by them! πŸ™‚ In this photo, this Large Red damselfly is kind of stubby and pale, but has expanded a fair bit compared to the size of its exuvia (larval case)
This is the same damselfly about 2 hours later, looking pretty much like a grown-up damselfly
And here he is after about 4 hours, after one of his first flights, looking at me with a cheeky face!
I managed to find this damsel very soon after its emergence. It doesn’t really look like it has wings yet, just little stumps where they will be. This one is an Azure damselfly.
Here it is looking rather ghostly still, a while later on that day.
Here she is later on, looking a bit more grown up
If I’m very lucky I might get to see the nymphs (larvae) in the pond before they emerge. As you can see this one is sitting on a little leaf – Frogbit. Perhaps that plant may give me a clue of when they’ll emerge. It’s not yet returned to the surface of the pond yet this year.
Here’s a Large Red from a couple of years ago, almost done, just resting on his exuvia

Hopefully I will have some photos to share of this year’s new damsels πŸ™‚

If you’re interesting in the life cycle of dragonflies and damselflies, this Life Cycle and Biology page on the British Dragonfly Society website is useful.

This post was inspired by the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Morning.

On the Hook, 18/4/20

Today I have officially freed myself from a feeling of obligation to finish the Kaleidoscope CAL. I really did want to have that beautiful finished blanket, but the pleasure of creating had gone. I kept doing other things because I didn’t want to keep creating lots and lots of triangles, and I was feeling guilty and pressured (by myself) to work on it even though I didn’t want to. Those who finish it will have my utmost respect.

So, having decided this, and feeling relief from all the ‘I should …’ thoughts, I decided I would do a different CAL with the yarn I bought, and any other bits and pieces I have in my stash. I am a member of a crochet group on Facebook that I joined when I did the Water Garden CAL (wow that was 2 years ago!) and on there they started a new CAL called Pandemonium CAL. I’ve been seeing lovely photos go by and have considered joining in, but those ‘shoulds’ stopped me. So now I’ve got rid of the ‘shoulds’, I’ve joined in! They’re up to part 6 at the moment, and I’ve spent this morning doing parts 1 and 2 and I’m loving it πŸ™‚ It’s so much more fun and relaxing. Here’s how it looks so far:

That’s only a part of it as its 210 stitches wide. It will make a good sized blanket and is colourful and full of texture and interest.

I’m going to make a cushion cover out of all those squares I made for the Kaleidscope CAL, so they won’t go to waste!

My cardigan is progressing, but I’m unsure about it at the moment. I did the whole of the body and put some edging on but I just tried it on and was a bit dubious about the size. I think I picture myself in my mind rather slimmer than the reality! So I’m not sure whether I’m going to carry on and do the arms as it is, or frog it a way back and redo it… it’s always a bit deflating when you find yourself not entirely happy with how something is turning out. But there’s no rush, it’s not like I’m going anywhere where anyone will see what I’m wearing! Only glimpses in video meetings for work!

So anyway – here it is at the moment… it may grow sleeves, or it may get smaller again and regrow!

Easter Photo Marathon

Over the long Easter weekend, I took part in a local photo marathon: Ffoto Marathon Pasg (that’s Easter Photo Marathon in Welsh). As we’re all on lock-down, the idea was to take photos on various topics while staying at home. On each of the days of the 4-day weekend, a new topic was given out in the morning and we had to submit our one best shot on the topic in the evening. I didn’t win anything, but it was fun taking part, and I thought I’d share my photos here. If you’d like to take a look at other entries you can find the ones on Instagram (the medium of my choice) here: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/ffotomarathonpasg/

On Friday the topic was ‘wood’. I pottered around the house and garden thinking about what I could take a photo of, and then noticed, in the garden, that the wasps were taking an interest in the shed, as they do. They like to nibble the shed, and my garden chairs to make their nests with. So I positioned myself where I could see them landing on the shed and pounced to get a shot of one nibbling. This is the shot I chose to submit:

If you look carefully, you can just see the mark of where the wasp has been nibbling, just behind his antenna.

On Saturday the topic was ‘yellow’. This almost made me wish I’d taken a photo of something else for the wood theme, as the wasp would have worked well for yellow too! But I had to come up with something different. The main yellow things that kept catching my eye were the dandelions in the garden. I took some photos of the dandelions alone, but in the end I decided on a shot with a bee in it. There were several to choose from, but I ended up choosing this one:

I was trying to get a shot of the bee side on, with his eye in focus, but he wasn’t cooperating, but I loved the colours and position in this one, and the view of the wings and furry body

On Sunday the topic was ‘number’. I was a bit flummoxed at this one. How was I going to find something natural that involved numbers. Of course I could step out of my usual type of photo, but that’s hard when it’s just part of who you are! I considered a dandelion seed head for a while, as when I was a child we used to pretend they were clocks – you’d blow it repeatedly until all the seeds were gone, and the number of blows it took was meant to be the time! Silly nonsense, but I thought perhaps that would work. In the end I decided to go for something more literal when I realised that an old outside light attached to the shed had numbers on it. And when I realised that the visiting solitary bees were flying past it quite a lot while investigating the bee hotel and surroundings, it made me choose this as my shot. I never managed to get any with a bee in focus, but in this shot you can see it’s a bee, and that was good enough for me.

See, that orangey blob with wings, underneath the word SUN?! πŸ™‚

On Monday the topic was ‘reflection’. I was looking at the water in my pond thinking how it was a shame it wasn’t really showing me a nice crisp reflection of the garden, when I thought about the sun making it sparkle. Which then led me to remember a Lens-Artists challenge not so long ago where I included a photo with sun-sparkle bokeh from the reflections in the pond. So I decided to take a photo of my last Snake’s Head Fritillary with lots of lovely bokeh in the background from the reflections of the sun on the pond surface and fountain. This is the shot I chose:

It’s amazing what a bit of sunshine sparkling off water can do to make a photo really magical!

There were some close decisions with some of the photos I submitted so here are some of the almost-chosen photos…

These 2 dandelion photos were up against the bee in my decision making on Saturday:

Looking into the heart of a dandelion
Dandelion, with a background of more dandelion!

Also in the running for yellow was this much subtler one, but I wasn’t sure it was sufficiently yellow:

Hoverfly on Cuckooflower, with the pale yellow of primroses in the background

On the Sunday, the dandelion clock idea looked good but I wasn’t sure if people would get it:

Maybe about 3 o’clock?

I did also think about featuring some of my crochet being measured, but lighting for indoor shots is difficult so I gave up on that idea:

How much further until my cardigan is finished?

On the Monday I had 4 different shots with the Fritillary and the bokeh to choose from but they’re all very nearly the same so I won’t show you the 3 that didn’t make it. Instead have a look at my other idea for that topic, with reflections of the sun in the droplets from the fountain. I love the Fritillary bokeh, but I really came close to choosing this one instead. I find it a very joyful image, and I love how there are little lines of sparkly reflections like you get when you wave a sparkler around in the dark! I wished I could submit 2 for Monday as I was so torn. Anyway, you get to enjoy it instead πŸ™‚

Hope you have all had a happy and peaceful weekend, and it isn’t too much of a struggle being back at work if that’s the case for me. I’m back to working from home today, and my brain was convinced it was Monday all day, which was very confusing!

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Bluebells

When I was out walking in the woods, I saw a few bluebells. Not a carpet of blue but a few, here and there. It was definitely still the time for Celandines and Wood Anemones, not the Bluebells’ turn yet!

On the way back I spotted this Dock Bug taking a break on a Bluebell. Not the usual plant to see them on, but it makes for quite unique photos! As the name suggests, Dock Bugs are usually found on or near Dock plants (or related plants) as that’s the food for their nymphs (babies).

Cuckoo

I love it when Cuckooflower season comes around. I love their delicate pink, and the beautiful veined petals, and the contrast with the green of their stamens and stigma (the bits in the middle of the flower). If you want to see more photos, take a look at the Cuckooflower page in the wildflower section of my nature guide.

Hoverfly on Cuckooflower (with Primroses providing a lovely yellow background)

When this is over

When this is over
I will not rush
to people
to shops
to restaurants, bars, cafes
to once-again busy streets
I will rush
in the opposite direction
to disconnect
to sit here
to be
to feel
to observe
to drench myself in quiet
immerse myself in nature
and let it restore my soul


And after I’ve sat for a while, I’ll go and look for some of my favourite things …

Small Skipper Butterfly
Black Darter Dragonfly (male)
Black Darter Dragonfly (female)
Emerald Damselfly
Azure Damselfly
Large Red Damselfly
Green Hairstreak Butterfly
Common Lizard (not that common around here!)

Inspired by the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #92: Going Back.

All photos taken at Cors Caron, a local nature research that I can’t currently visit due to the coronavirus pandemic. My garden is lovely, and the village pond and woods are lovely, but I miss Cors Caron and I want to go back.