The only sad note this week was the departure of our swallows. It's inevitable but always seems a bit strange when I first notice they have gone as the skies seem so empty and so quiet. But on the plus side, a little bit of warmth and the Painted Lady butterflies were back, along with many others. I've found some goodies this week, like this groovy caterpillar. It was curled up in one of the large plant saucers that I use as chicken feed bowls. Luckily for it, chickens are at times sensible and don't go near hairy caterpillars!
|Sycamore Moth (Acronicta aceris) caterpillar all curled up.|
|Sycamore Moth (Acronicta aceris) caterpillar - I had to prod it gently with a leaf to |
make it uncurl and I didn't see its face until I put it down into the grass.
On Tuesday I went to revisit my Butterfly Walk to collect the seeds of the Greater Burdock that I'd found so covered in butterflies earlier in the summer. There were not many wildflowers about and far fewer butterflies, but plenty of insects were feeding on the ripe blackberries, even though the berries were rather small and not very juicy, due to the dry soil where they are growing. (As an aside, my brother asked me if I remembered us throwing the dry sticky seed heads of Burdock at each other as children. No. Still don't remember this plant.)
|Comma (Polygonia c-album), very well camouflaged with their wings closed up like this.|
|A Green Bottle fly, a female Fever Fly (Dilophus febrilis) and |
a Rose Chafer beetle (Cetonia aurata) all feeding from the same blackberry.
|And at home a Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) |
feeding on my cultivated blackberries.
It was certainly a(nother!) week for butterflies as I spotted two completely new species in my garden! Both tiny, both 'blues' and I'm amazed that I even noticed them at all, as these tiny little things are so easy to miss in amongst the big showy butterflies that are flitting about on these Verbena flowers.
|A male Brown Argus (Aricia agestis).|
|A male Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus). These butterflies are |
migratory and will likely have come up here from the south of France.
Here's one of my favourite hoverflies, the weirdly named and strange looking Heineken Hoverfly, which are abundant right now. Yes the Verbena bonariensis is still a hit with pollinating insects - that and the sedums have been the favourites of many this last week.
|Heineken Hoverfly (Rhingia campestris) with its strange snout.|
There seems to be some kind of pattern going on here with my cats terrorising my chickens and ducks! Bertie is being a naughty little boy and worrying the hens.
And here are the sound effects in this 13 second video. I've only just figured out how to get them off my Canon camera and be able to view them on my computer (yeah I know but I just haven't a clue where computers are concerned and didn't have the right software installed) so don't expect me to be able to edit them yet. The last few seconds are unnecessary and I wonder if you can guess what happened?!
Some rotten insect bit my foot! lol :-)
I will leave you with yet more butterflies and and whether the forecasted rain ever arrives (so far no luck) I'm getting back into the kitchen for yet more preserving. I'm off to England the middle of next month and want to take jams and chutneys with me as gifts for family and friends!
|How many Peacocks (Inachis io) can you fit on one Sedum plant?|
Yes, the blur counts!
Oh, one last thing I discovered just this morning after I'd written all the rest. Really annoyingly I've just found two young Swallowtail caterpillars. These are the only ones I've seen other than the four that I raised, so I'm guessing these are the babies of my babies. It's annoying because I don't have time to get them to chrysalis stage before going away.... yet we're going nowhere next spring... so I could have overwintered them and had another chance to see an eclosion earlier next year. Damn!
|This one had just had a moult, because its facial markings are very pale |
(and I found the skin on the stem as well).
Well I'll just chat to them when I'm in the veg patch instead. :-)