Yesterday was warm and quite sunny so we headed out for a short walk around the village. Before leaving I noticed that our Buddleia flowers are just starting to come out:
There were quite a few Birds Foot Trefoils growing in the grassy areas
There are also other similar but taller flowers which I’ve identified as Meadow Vetchling:
This Small Skipper seemed to rather like the Meadow Vetchling and sat obligingly for a while so I could get a good shot 🙂
Nearby I spotted two more wildflowers that I don’t think I have blogged before – Self-Heal and Hedge Woundwort. Both pretty pinky-purple flowers.
Heading off down the road I spied my first Bindweed flower. I’ve been seeing the stems twisting round other things, but this is the first flower.
The Dog Roses are still going, though there are less of them now I think. They still look very pretty:
Fruits and nuts are swelling fast now – there were several nice clumps of Hazelnuts, as well as the Hawthorn Haws in the hedgerow. And round by the pond the Apples have got quite fat since the last time I was there.
The poor old Redcurrant/Gooseberry bush (not a Hawthorn!) is looking a bit sorry for itself as someone decided that the hedge/verge needed to be cut back. Sadly the Redcurrant/Gooseberry bush has ended up hacked to bits. There are still a couple of fruits left but it’s not a pretty sight. We have rebelled against this early cutting and the edge of our grass bank outside is all tall grass where we’ve left the edge to grow. I wish I had some native hedgerow in the garden instead of the horrible Leylandii hedge that I’m stuck with. Anyway, moving on …
Near the pond some new flowers have emerged – Scabious and Mallow:
The Mallow is hard to photograph because its so delicate and its difficult to capture that. I’m intrigued by their stigmas and stamens … it brings out the dormant biologist in me 🙂
We spotted a Meadow Brown Butterfly but it was being exceedingly awkward and refused to let me take a decent photo. I had to make do with this one where you can barely distinguish it from the wood chip!
Time is definitely moving fast as it doesn’t seem long since all was bare and we were waiting for leaves to appear. Now it’s already time for Goatsbeard seed heads and the ferns are growing their spores. Must be something to do with getting old – years move faster when you age I think.
And finally, I was looking at the Honeysuckle on the way back and wondering why it seems so late flowering. This was one of the very few which is even attempting to open. The rest of the buds are either still closed or some seem to have shrivelled and died before even opening. Strange.
And now I must stop rambling on and go to bed. I’m tired out. Is it only Monday!?!
The weather has turned in the last couple of days to heavy showers, but it has been lovely and sunny. In between taking my daughter to a riding competition (last weekend) and the bee incident, I did manage a few photos here and there.
I have been enjoying our ‘meadow’ of lovely long grass in the back garden. Lots of insects seem to be enjoying it too.
Today, in between the showers I popped out for a moment and noticed this little bee who seems to have moved into a hole in our shed. Yay 🙂
The Buddleia won’t be long now – so close to flowering! So looking forward to all the butterflies gathering when it does 🙂
There are a lot of Ragwort plants which are also getting close to flowering. Last year these were particularly popular with hoverflies and the Small Copper butterflies. Another one to look forward to.
We were looking at the pond and commenting that we hadn’t seen the frogs for a while … I then stood up to pull some grass out of the pond and my foot disturbed … guess what?! Yup, a little yellowish frog went sploshing into the pond out of the way of my foot. He then popped back up to say hello. He’s pretty small. We thought he was a baby, but then an even smaller one popped up next to him! Really makes us happy to see our pond in use 🙂
There are all different stages of Ladybird life around the garden at the moment …
Here’s a larva (this is what hatches from the Ladybird eggs):
Then after stuffing itself with food, the larva settles down and turns into a pupa:
And then of course it becomes an adult ladybird, and sets off chomping its way through lots of greenfly 🙂
Finally, we are glad that we’ve let some of the brambles stay, as they are now producing the start of a nice crop of blackberries 🙂
As I came into the house today I was reminded that I should do an update on the wildflowers and other things in the garden. Last time I put in a picture of my growing plants they were rather small – Wildflowers Update. Now they are tall and many are about to burst into flower! I’ve just realised I’ve chopped off the black mustard flower in this picture!
Most of the flowers are cornflowers – the ones that are flowering already are the ones that lived for a while on the windowsill in the kitchen – they seemed to move faster towards flowering but suffered from floppy stalks which are now being held up with help. I think I may have chucked in a packet or two of cornflower seeds with the wildflowers.
The cornflowers so far are blue, pink and purple:
The blue one, being blue, is my favourite so I took another photo of it 🙂
Other things you may have noticed from the first picture is the addition of some Basil that was previously growing in the kitchen, a trough of new seedlings and a pot containing a rather sickly Lavender. The Basil got a bit big and didn’t seem so happy indoors anymore so it came out here. We haven’t really used it in cooking – just enjoyed its smell. The seedlings are another packet of wildflowers that I forgot when I did the original planting, and Bruce has put them in a trough. The Lavender was in the middle of the garden by the Willow – I put it there last year and it was fine, but this year it seems to be have been overwhelmed so I dug it up and put it in the pot to see if I can rescue it.
And finally a quick look at the big Hebe to find it’s started to flower! Yay 🙂
The weather is beautiful at the moment, staying mostly sunny and warm. It is hazy and cloudy at times but mostly dry and very nice. One might almost say it is too hot at times (but that is just because I am a pale feeble person who doesn’t deal well with heat!). It has been nice for photography so I’ve gathered a few pictures for you from the last few days.
The wildflowers needed watering and while there were still droplets on them, I got this shot of one of the newly emerged Cornflowers:
We have let nature take its course in some (many) areas of the garden and there are a lot of Herb Robert flowers everywhere. I was trying to get a nice shot focused on a flower with the background all blurred.
The Buddleia is working its way towards flowering which is exciting! When it does come into flower, there will be loads of butterflies all around 🙂
Also in the garden the small Hebe is flowering. I haven’t seen a huge amount of insects around it, but when the bigger one flowers, usually there are loads of bees, so I look forward to that. It’s getting ready to flower quite soon I think.
Leaving the garden for a stroll I noticed this new little plant which I have just spent ages trying to identify! I finally figured out that it’s called Eye Bright.
Looking in the hedgerows, I noticed that the fruits of autumn are already on their way. There were sloes developing on the Blackthorn, and haws developing on the Hawthorn, and it looks like there will be plenty of food come autumn.
The Dog Roses are looking lovely now – loads of flowers are out brightening the hedgerow beautifully.
There are also many bramble flowers about, which is pleasing the insects.
The fruit on the Redcurrant bush (that I thought was Hawthorn!) is getting fatter but it’s still green. The apples near the village pond are getting fat too.
The Dock plants are now all busily in flower, and if you look closely you’ll find Dock Leaf Beetle larvae wandering about on them. I haven’t got a decent shot, sadly, so just a picture of the flowers/seeds instead.
I saw this flower growing, but don’t know what it will be. Any ideas? It’s hard to identify a plant before it flowers!
At the village pond I managed to spot a Grasshopper. There don’t seem to be many about yet, but I think as time goes on we’ll hear their chirruping all around again. This is not the best shot but the only one I got before he hopped away!
Back in the garden there are some new things flowering – the Alchemilla with it’s funny green flowers, and also a Willowherb. At first I though it was a Rose Bay Willowherb, but it’s not. I do think it is some kind of Willowherb though.
Hidden away in one Buddleia are loads of snails. Not sure what they like about it, but if you peek in there are lots in all different nooks and crannies. The other Buddleia seems to be home to many Shield Bugs, who are mating still!
Also in the Buddleia I noticed a caterpillar high up above my head. Not sure what type it is, but I’m thinking Butterfly not Moth.
And finally, how about another photo of our frog (or one of them anyway!). This one popped out and then pulled itself up on the side, showing its tiny little fingers.
Our frog disappeared for a while and we thought maybe he’d hopped it. However, as I was sat by the pond on Sunday, contemplating whether there was anything else we should do to make it really appealing to wildlife, I looked up to see a frog looking back at me from the pond!
And guess what?! He brought a small friend! This little teeny frog, barely bigger than a leaf, must be one of this year’s youngsters gracing our pond with a visit.
Photos are not up to my usual standard, having been taken with my phone, but better than no frog photos at all!
Sorry I haven’t blogged sooner – it’s been a busy week! I haven’t got out much due to work and weather but we did manage a little walk at Cors Caron on Thursday, and went for a short walk round the village yesterday while the sun shone.
The most exciting thing we saw on either of these walks were lizards! For those of you not in the UK, you may see lizards regularly, but over here they’re not the most common of sights, so they make us excited! Along the boardwalk at Cors Caron (a marshy bog-land nature reserve) there were lots of Common Lizards basking on the warm wood of the fence.
Also at Cors Caron were many different Damselflies. I spent ages trying to identify them, but I’m not entirely sure. I think the blue ones are Azures, rather than Common Blues, from looking at their markings. The females are even harder to decide. Anyway – enjoy how they look even if I’m not sure what they are!
As well as the Damselflies there were several Dragonflies about but mostly I only saw them passing in a flurry of wings. They fly in a different way to the Damsels, all helicopter-like. But this one stayed still for a moment so I could get a photo:
On a more floral note, I saw that the thistles were flowering, much to the delight of the bees. Also loads of yellow Flag Irises were out looking very bright, and many Heath Spotted Orchids (less showy) were dotted about.
Back at home yesterday morning, I slipped out between showers to get some raindrop photos. Here’s one on a plant in my garden – I’m not sure what the plant is though! Pretty thing whatever it is!
Later the weather got better and we went for our little walk. Some of the Honeysuckle is out now, but a lot of it looks like this one – nearly there:
A highlight of our walk was spotting this beetle which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. It turns out to be a Garden Chafer. I love how hairy she is! (I think she’s a she because her antennae are small rather than big and feathery)
There was a big Potentilla bush near the pond looking lovely and yellow. It seemed quite popular with insect. The sky was clouding over at this point which made photography quite tricky. We already had the wind to deal with, but when the sun kept coming and going it got really difficult with settings needing to be changed all the time. I was lucky to get this flower in focus really!
And finally for today, another lovely Dog Rose flower. I’ve posted a few already but they’re so pretty and I was pleased with the focus on this one, on the sprinkling of stamens.
That’s enough for now. It seems that spring is moving on to summer pretty soon, despite the stormy weather we’ve been having. It will be nice to see more flowers and insects appearing 🙂
Well, May has rushed to a close – the month seemed to go very quickly and now it’s already June! So what have I seen in the village in these last few May days?
I saw my first Dog Rose this week, followed by my 2nd later in the week. The first one seems to have lost a petal but I took a picture anyway, as it was the first one I saw.
The Elm tree has gone from leaves gradually taking over from flowers/seeds, to it being all leaves, with the seeds falling like confetti!
The climbing roses in the hedge of my garden have come into flower now and are looking beautiful 🙂
The chives by the village pond are in flower too:
I saw my first (and 2nd) Snipe Fly in the garden this week. I didn’t know what they were at first, but with a bit of googling I worked it out. They’re interesting looking flies and I rather like them, so expect more! 🙂
I saw this tiny little caterpillar in the garden. I haven’t yet figured out what it is, so any guesses at ID are welcome.
Following on from a previous post featuring (among other things) Ladybirds ‘getting it on’, we now have some Ladybird larvae appearing in the garden.
Other news in the garden is that one of my wildflowers is flowering – I believe it is a Black Mustard
There are a lot of Red Clovers all blooming nicely:
The Buttercups are still going strong making a beautiful sight in the fields down the road:
Another addition to the yellow is the Hawksweed, doing a good impression of a Dandelion:
We were excited to spot a couple of Flower Beetles – specifically Thick-Legged Flower Beeetles. You can see from the first photo where they got their name! The first one is the male and the second photo is a female.
At the village pond we were lucky enough to see another Broad-Bodied Chaser dragonfly. It could even be the one from our garden, now with it’s adult colours. If you remember me posting about the dragonfly in the garden, you’ll remember that I said it was a female. Turned out it wasn’t, but it was a juvenile male and they look the same as females until they develop their adult colouring. So this one could, maybe, be ours, but who knows!
Finally I was pleased I managed to grab this quick shot when we spotted an Azure Damselfly flying around the pond – I had to quickly point, change settings, shoot, and fortunately caught her brief moment of stillness, presumably laying some eggs in the pond 🙂
The fledgling Great Tits I posted about the other day are definitely not ‘ours’ as the parents are still very busy swooping backwards and forwards to feed them. I can watch them from the kitchen window whooshing back and forth. It looks like an exhausting time for them constantly searching for food and rushing back to deliver it.
Right that is a massive post so I’ll shut up now! 🙂
I decided to drop my tablets back down to the level I was on last week and hurrah, I can function again! So here is a catch up…
The weather has turned cooler and rainier now but earlier in the week on Tuesday it was nice and sunny and we had a walk after work. One of the most eye-catching things at the moment are all the buttercups, stretching out far across the fields 🙂
The Tulip Tree down the road is developing flower buds. They’re not the prettiest of flowers and are mainly green … but they’re interesting.
Last time I think I included some Red Clover. Well, now we have the White Clover beginning too, as well as another family member – Birds-Foot Trefoil (the yellow flower below).
The Ash tree is really getting going now, in a race to catch up with other trees. Funny how it has started so late when other trees have finished flowering already!
I spotted this pink flower coming up in the hedgerow, but I don’t know what it is – any ideas?
The Honeysuckle was getting quite close to flowering in some places – the buds were getting longer and longer:
We saw a beautiful Marmalade Fly resting while we passed:
The ‘Sticky Plant’ is growing again. Looking quite attractive at this point. Less attractive later when you find your clothes are covered in the little fuzzy seeds which cling onto everything!
We seem to be seeing more snails out and about now – perhaps they feel the spring too and are heading out looking for friends 🙂
Some of the ferns are still unfurling, though they’re nearly open now just a few left to go:
The Elm tree down near the pond is filling up with leaves – there seem to be more leaves than flowers now:
I spied some baby apples on the apple trees nearby:
This Willow has been sending out fluff all over the place. The pond had a covering of it and it was flying in our faces and you could find it stuck to all kinds of plants! I’m not sure what kind of willow it is. The one in our garden doesn’t do this!
This little Ragged Robin was found growing by the pond. Living up to its name by being very raggedy!
I found this little yellow flower which I haven’t identified yet – pretty little thing:
Finally back in the garden I spotted that one of my wildflower seedlings is forming flower buds! Still have no idea what it will be so it’s quite exciting 🙂
Well, if you live in the UK, you’ll know we’re having a few days of lovely weather – warm and sunny. It’s really nice. I’m one of those people who likes to be warm, but not too hot. Spring is one of the nicest times of the year especially when it’s like this.
It’s not just the weather – everywhere you look it’s full-on springtime! The trees are all fresh green leaves, the verges are all fresh green grass, shooting up, the hedgerows bursting with green leaves … just a verdant, lushness of green everywhere. Then there’s the birds – Swallows swooping, Housemartins busy making nests, Great Tits feeding babies, young Jackdaws squawking in the chimney … and the rest! And not forgetting the insects of course – loads of variety now in the insects I am finding, and lots more Butterflies fluttering about.
So let’s have some photos, shall we? 🙂
First of all some of the flowers that can be seen around the hedgerow at the moment. If you’d like to see the full size versions of these, click on one, then in the gallery viewer scroll down to “View full size”. Oh and put your mouse over them in the gallery to see the captions.
Black Medick – newly arrived this spring
Unidentified tiny flower – any ideas?
Buttercups – the whole of the wet meadow is full of these – a carpet of yellow!
I managed to get a couple of shots of the Great Tits which are (definitely) nesting in a gap in the back wall of our house – they have babies to feed now. The Jackdaws also have babies (I’m almost sure now) so they are busily flitting back and forth to feed them.
I’m coming in
Off we go again!
I also spotted some sparrows while at my daughter’s riding school. I guess they are nesting in the roof
Mrs Sparrow on the roof
Mrs Sparrow peeking out of the roof
Mrs Sparrow peeking out of the roof
Mr Sparrow keeping an eye on me
Now for some insects. I’ve seen a few more insects mating, and there were some new ones that I’d not seen before which was very interesting:
Two-banded Longhorn Beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum)
Dock Leaf Bug
Small Copper Butterfly
Common Blue Butterfly
Black & Red Froghopper
Sawfly galls on Willow
Large White Butterfly
Green Shield Bugs mating
Lastly, to finish off, I’ll mention a couple of trees. The Rowan flowers are now moving on to the next stage and have gone a little yellow, the Ash is finally beginning to get a few leaves, and the Elms are starting to grow leaves now after spending a long time with just their flowers.
A little wildflower seedlings update – I snapped this quick photo with my phone yesterday in between the rain showers. They all look a lot better than in the last photo – they’re standing up better and have grown a fair bit.
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!
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.
Most of the Dandelions now look like this – they’ve gone to seed and most of the seeds have blown away!
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).
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!).
Back in the garden the Rowan tree is now fully in flower, busy preparing its berries for later in the year!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!