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Out and About

When not busy in the garden I like to get out with my camera looking for anything interesting. Here is a selection of some of my discoveries

Latest Updates

June 2012

21st June

Midsummer day and it's all downhill from here! The weather is as usual a bit hit and miss - there are nice days but a lot more not so nice days and none of the hot days you would expect for June.

The second brood of starlings in the balcony partition have hatched and I can hear them now, I first noticed the noise yesterday, still quite weak for the moment.

There has been a poor little Great tit around since Saturday which seems to have a terribly damaged foot. Great tit Once it arrives it spends a lot of time in the Rhododendron, and when the other birds are gone feeds in the cage which is very close to it.

There are Lychnis larvae feeding on the seeds of the red Campion (see image). I have three plants in the front garden and as far as I can make out there are three larvae on two plants. It was the frass (poo) which drew my attention to their presence and thought it was either clusters of odd looking eggs or larvae. That day though I didn't see the larvae at all, it was when I went to check the next day I saw the and probably final instar larvae. They must have been inside the pods, I can't believe they manage to squeeze into them as they look much too large but they do. I haven't noticed any of the larvae on the red Campion in the back garden but have seen the moths there. Lychnis larvae
More photo's of the larvae and new moth images are in the 2012 Moth Gallery,I try to update that gallery daily mif I have new images..

Mothing has been quite successful over the last week and I a finding a different species or two most days. There is a pair of Fan-foots in the ivy, and its lovely to see yellow shells on the wing again also I have seen the first Willow beauty of the year. There was a lovely Adela croesella one of the longhorns in the garden Tuesday lunch time a first for the garden. There have been several Large yellow underwing sightings but they haven't hung around - they have checked out the Buddleias and gone. The Buddleias is where I see them other years and when they feed they tend to hang around for ages. There are buds now on the buddleias but not ready to flower.

We only have three apple on the tree in the front garden, I thought this year we didn't have much blossom but certainly more than three flowers. I did re pot it in the Autumn but probably should have pruned it.

15th June

There is so much to tell, I don't know why I left it so long.

We have had some rotten weather, gales and storms last weekend, lots of rain with the occasional nice-ish day thrown in.
The gales flattened and knocked around the garden and I had to go and get some more canes to tie things up again -luckily no plants were totally snapped. I bought a couple of frames that are a wiggly semi-circle with two long legs that stick into the ground and push flopping plants upright and closes the gaps which form when the woody stems show - especially with the lavender - they work a treat and are so easy with no tying up.

The Vipers bugloss is in flower, well one of them is the other two shouldn't be long to follow - Thank you Joan Gunson from Back garden moths for the seeds!
Also thanks to my sister for the Borage seeds she gave me from her allotment, they are also in flower! Jackdaw
A week or so ago the garden was looking good, full and colourful - now it is getting that wild look, everything is growing like mad and I have squeezed far too much in,

I realised last week that one of our starling families actually had three chicks and not two like I thought. The other family did have just the two chicks.

There are a lot more Swifts around this year, to see and hear them screeching through the sky is just so wonderful. Last year numbers were right down.

Last week I couldn't get the usual fat-balls so I bought giant ones instead but because they wouldn't fit in the feeder hung them from the inside of the cage on the ground that covers the food. A clever old Jackdaw has worked out that by pulling the string up and holding it firm with its talon a few times that the food is soon at the top of the cage where he can eat easily. I know I have mentioned before there are a jackdaw or two which actually squeezes into the cage to feed. This is perfectly fine with me it was the pigeons I was trying to stop . I think it is actually working after all this time, the pigeons are in the garden less, not hanging around all day and there are less of them.
I get rid of one lot of pests to be confronted with another - mice. Well mice, touch wood haven't really been a problem but I always worry they will decide to come into the house. I hadn't seen any for about 10 months, while we were away for three weeks last summer and not feeding the birds they moved on and until two days ago I had seen any since. It was only one but for how long?

There had been so many various types of hoverfly larvae around over the last couple of weeks and what a difference their presence has made. The honey dew and aphids have greatly decreased.
There haven't been any larvae around for a few days that I have noticed, so they may have gone off to pupate or of course have been eaten by birds. I was hoping to find some of the pupae but haven't found any.

There have been lots of ladybird egg which have hatched over the weeks but I haven't seen any larvae of any stage at all.

The moth eggs on the dandelion type plant, changed colour on the 8th June, and on the very same day about 7 hours later they had hatched! So moth eggs on dandelion I believe these are a different type of moth than the other moth eggs for several reasons. The first being they were on a different plant, these were on the underside of a dandelion leaf and not on the top of Nastutium and didn't take a week to hatch once they had changed colour. See image of the stages.
Since any of the larvae from the three clusters have hatched I haven't seen them apart from the first days -I hope some have survived.

Mothing has slightly improved, the last couple of days I have seen 8 and 9 different species during mothing but there have only been 'one of these and two of those'.
Last week when the Silver Y's appeared I was in no hurry to get images as I expected them to be back night after night in large numbers like other years but that hasn't been the case. I have seen the odd one but they never hang a round - most odd!
Yesterday we had our first Hummingbird hawk moth of the year feeding on white valerian, it stayed around for quite a while feeding which allowed me to get some decent pictures thank goodness.
Other visitors this week have been, a Large Yellow underwing (no picci), The Lychnis (seen quite a few nights and resting in the garden over day), Small ranunculus, Carnation Tortrix (just a female - these used to be so active in the garden) and a male Large Fruit-tree Tortrix. All new images can be seen in the MOTH GALLERY 2012

It has been very noticeable that the bats are coming right into the garden, so low I can feel the draught they cause as they fly over me. They are also concentrating on the honeysuckle my big moth attracting plant - so perhaps they are spotting the moths before I do or frightening the moths off.

A bit about moth larvae.
Last week I saw a yellow-tailed moth larva in the Hawthorn, it looked to be a final instar - then I never saw it again until the 12th when it was in the Viburnum dawn.
The figure of eight and brown-tail moth larvae which I saw at final instar stages, presume pupated but I have seen no adults.
A strange thing has been a big hairy garden tiger larva, last Friday night I saw it for the first time in the Stinging nettles. Then I didn't see it for a couple of day then it was wandering all over the place very quickly - it was getting to the stage I was worried I would tread on it as I didn't know where it would turn up next. At about 3cm long it was only a 2nd or 3rd instar, much too small to be a final instar. I have seen the larva before in the garden but yet again never an adult - either laying eggs or emerging from a pupa.
I haven't got any piccies yet, I was going to do it yesterday but never got around to it and now it's raining a but there are a few very small Cinnabar larvae on son ragwort - this is the only plant this species of moth will feed on.

Phwoar - that was an epic, it will teach me not to keep up with things!!!!!!!!

Hummingbird hawk moth Yellow tail moth larva final instar Garden tiger

4th June

Brrrr! What has happened to the weather, it is, and was yesterday only 8° and raining!
Saturday though was nicer, not hot at 17° but very pleasant and we saw a few butterflies around the garden, small whites, green-veined whites and a speckled wood. It isn't often we see speckled woods so that was great.

What was good about Saturday was our eggs on the Nasturtiums hatched! The colour changed again the day before and the larvae could be seen through the eggs when I looked with a magnifying glass. The smaller cluster started first , then the leaf with the two clusters started a few hours later. When they hatched a few moved away from the group but most stayed there and over the last couple of days eating the top layer of leaf from where they hatched. I have made a collage to show the stages of development which like with ladybird eggs is always interesting to observe.

The moth eggs I mentioned in the last update for May are still white. They are on a dandelion type plant, they look the same as the two clusters which have already hatched. I will keep an eye on them of course and see if I can spot any differences - I hope so!

Talking of eggs thank goodness another cluster of ladybird eggs hatched on the black currant bush on Saturday evening. There are hardly any fruits again after a lot of blossom but the trouble is the honeysuckle, willow and Buddleia all have put on so much growth (which is good) but it blocks the light from the blackcurrant and I have nowhere to move it to. What is important though when it was in blossom it was always a draw to the hollyblue butterflies and bees before much else was in flower for them.
The bright orange eggs I think are ladybird eggs on the Rubeckia are still there and orange.

It has been lovely to see all the sparrow and starling chicks coming in to feed, they are growing and becoming more independent every day. If a parent will feed them they don't say no but are quite capable of feeing themselves with the food I provide but I doubt if they are ready to source or catch food on their own.
I haven'tseen any blue tit, great tit or dunnock chicks around which is a bit sad really.

I can barely bring myself to mention the mothing, or lack of moths around. the garden smells wonderful at night with the honeysuckle and night scented stock but the moths still aren't coming in the numbers I would expect.
The good news is - yes there is good news, that is I have see a Small-elephant hawk-moth two evenings now, the bad news is the photo's are appalling! You can see the evidence image below.
I was hoping to have seen a brown-tiled moth or a Figure of eight, I haven't seen the larvai for over a week now and expect they had gone off to pupate somewhere, they would have emerged by now and I have checked place I thought they might be but can't find them. They would probably pupate in the soil.

Moth eggs Small Elephant Hawk-moth Speckled wood

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