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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Another brood of Moorhens and a bit of catching up!

This is our tenth year here and the first time the moorhens (not the same couple all this time!) have had two broods in one year. These ones were born around 11th June and the first brood are looking like drab brown versions of the adults now; it really doesn't take them long to grow up. But whilst they remain fluffy little pom-poms we enjoy watching them - and this time the parents have not kept them so hidden away, so it's been great.

Mum! Mum!

Although it could be Dad, as both parents care for the young.

One day I heard some interesting squeaky noises in my woodland and followed two birds from conifer to conifer, not quite being sure what I was seeing, but hoping they might be Goldcrests or Firecrests, when one suddenly stopped for a moment out in the sunshine!

Newly fledged Goldcrest still with the wide mouth look.

Going back to late May, I found this cute bee which looked like it was sleeping or resting on a Sweet William flower. However the next day it was dead (2nd photo), so it had actually been dying. I know that's normal, but it seems sad to witness it.

It was nice spot for its final resting place.

This was identified for me as a Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes).
I hadn't recognised it because its foot isn't hairy any more,
but it still has some long hairs on the middle leg.

And then there was this cute small bee measuring about 10-11mm which I saved from drowning in a watering can. It was sopping and had a good walk over my hands before I put it on my jeans, where it stayed whilst I came indoors, took a photo with my other camera, then pottered about doing things. And then it went and died on my jeans! :-(

Gorgeous bee with beautiful eyes, the ID is Osmia sp. but could be one of several species.
A facebook insect group I use is very handy for asking for ID.

Here is the Osmia sp. bee on my jeans.

And now some fluttery things....

Found this on the handle of my watering can -
I think it's a Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) moth.

Hummingbird Hawkmoths (Macroglossum stellatarum) have been around for a while now.

But I never see them resting! Blow me down - this one was just sitting on my new filter bed!

I tried.... the photo op was too good to resist, but it flew off a nano second after this shot!

A Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) in amongst white Valerian.

This is a handsome Longhorn Beetle (Agapantha sp.) found on Phacelia.

And now I'll leave you with some floral photos I took, most taken back in May which I never got round to posting!

Aquilegia, one of the few Nora Barlows that I grew from seed which actually came to anything.

Bearded Iris.

Another kind of Iris which I've forgotten what it is!

Just an excuse to bung in a Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) butterfly,
because it was posing on one of my Weigelas
which I grew from a cutting from a friend's garden.

Honeysuckle looking good.

Honeysuckle after rain. Forgotten what rain is now!

Clematis 'The President' on one side of the arch.

And the thornless rose 'Zephirine Drouhin' which is heavily scented on the other side.

And both together. The clematis has gone over now but the rose
is a repeat flowering one so still covered in flowers.

Scented yellow Day Lily whose name I've completely forgotten! I blame the heat.

A view of the veggie patch with lots of flowers around it - there are lots of flowers in it too.
I'll do a veg patch update at the end of the month.

Sweet Williams, although this clump have gone sad
and droopy now because it's so dry!

Next update will be back to Swallowtails again as I have more to share.... but finding time to sort through photos and blog is tough right now as there's a lot to do outside! Right, off out to do the watering. :-)


  1. Well done for getting out with camera, I am guessing a needed break from all the gravel/soil moving you have had with the septic tank. Like your Humming bird hawk moth in flight shot, and good to see the Moorhens with 2nd brood. Do you get Kingfishers visiting the lake?

    1. Haha I have a camera with me at all times outside otherwise I would miss so much. And most of the gravel and soil moving around is being done by my OH, because I've got all the regular gardening and fruit and veg harvesting to do... and it's too hot to do either in the afternoon at the moment!

      We do get kingfishers here occasionally and I've seen one around a few times recently - just a quick dart from one side of the lake to the other and then he/he is lost in the foliage again. I take it you like them? ;-)

    2. Kingfishers.... oh yes, they are a favourite of mine to watch and photograph :)

    3. So have you any photos that you have shared anywhere that I can see? Have only got a few (bad) photos over the years, as they don't sit perched on a branch out in the open here, at least not often!

    4. I don't have galleries on web, but pic of a Kingfisher I took here

      Your right that they don't sit on branches often, what I do is put branches out for them where there are good fishing spots for the Kingfishers, and I always use my portable hide as its virtually impossible to stay hidden and still without scaring them off.

    5. Ian, that's an amazing photo! Well done. You ought to be sharing pics on the internet when you take such great images. I presume you photograph other birds too. What kind of lens are you using that you got so close, or was it really close to your portable hide? I need one of them. Did you make it or can you buy them?

    6. Thanks Mandy, I do photograph other birds and wildlife in general, and do love photgraphing Dragonflies. The lenses I use for general wildlife shots is a Canon 100-400, birds usually a Canon f4 500 prime. I have used many types of hide, I have uploaded a pic of the hide and branches, I took to get the Kingfisher shot I posted: I was about 15ft away from Kingfishers so you can use a lens with less distance, probably 300mm would get good results, I could have got nearer, but was on limit of how close the 500 lens would focus. I have had Kingfishers sit waiting to catch fish for over 10 minutes at a time.

      I use that one as it has two integrated seats in it and takes seconds to put up, and is fairly easy to carry, downside is the integrated seats, if you move then so does the hide. In more permanent places I have used camouflage netting (used to hide tanks!) and a plastic chair and used cammo scrim to block out where the lens is.

    7. Love the pic, Ian, and I can see how you set up the perches. Is that a big fat lens I see in the window of the hide? A 500mm lens wouldn't be that huge, would it? Looks like a paparazzi lens!

      I only have for my dslr an 80-300mm lens but I use my Powershot SX50 superzoom for birds, although the quality is not great but I can zoom in about 3 times further than a 300mm lens, so it's still better quality than that when distant. But with either camera/lens, I need to be within about 10 foot of something like a blue tit to get a decent photo. I did think once about camo netting but I am just not dedicated and patient enough. I would love to be able to take good bird photos but my camera equipment is better for macro and bugs, and I don't hang around hours waiting for them to turn up. :-)

    8. Yep, that's the 500 poking out the hide Mandy, it is huge, it really has to go on a tripod and a gimbal as its too heavy to hand hold for long periods. Another reason for using a hide - to rest in from carrying all the gear!

    9. I can understand that - nice to have a place for a sit down and if you do this in winter, and nice warm cuppa! Is this Haworth village website yours, or are you a contributor? I have been having a look and it's very interesting and full of great nature photos..... loving the dragonfly pics. :-)

    10. Thanks Mandy, yes, I run the Haworth website with a friend, my local patch when not in Brittany. Its all gone Tour de France mad at the moment, as the race is due to pass through here on 6th July :)

    11. I ignore sport as much as I can so no idea about where the TdF is going - I thought you meant Brittany but I've just googled and see you mean Yorkshire! Ummm why would they be doing a stage in England?

      Anyhow I like your website and am impressed by the nature photos - I'll have another look through when I get a mo. :-)

  2. I loved seeing the photos of your garden and the flowers and shrubs, they look stunning but what holds my interest best of course, are the bugs. The longhorn is one I sometimes see around here but the speckled wood looks a lot more orange in its markings...stronger colour than I see. Could be that as with the comma butterfly, it's a second brood that is darker? Not sure if speckled wood is doubled-brooded..or even if that's a word! ;-)

    I am very envious of your humming bird moth shots-I very occasionally see them in our garden but have yet to get time for a nice photo as they are always gone before I even get the camera.

    I am hoping to see painted lady as there have been a few sightings already but I doubt we'll get an invasion such as that amazing year of...what was it/ 2009? It was aid that 1800 were spotted off the Norfolk coast-although who counted and how I am not sure....

    1. Hi JJ - I've just looked through UK Butterflies site about the Speckled Wood - this one looks more like the subspecies Insula found on the Scilly Islands! I have always assumed the ones in France are the subspecies Tircis as that is their common name in French (and when I google 'tircis papillon', most of the pics are more orangy brown like this, rather than the darker brown Tircis on the UK Butterflies site. I imagine this was a spring brood as it was taken in May.

      I cheat with the HB hawkmoths - put camera on sports mode which gives me lots of speed but only f2.8, but stand back a bit (as you can't get close to them anyway) which gives you more dof, and then just blast away. Sometimes get lucky and with my dslr I can crop quite heavily, so people think I got close to it! :-)

      We don't always get many Painted Ladies up here in Brittany, as they come up from the south, but recent years have been good. Saw first one on 20th May!

      And whilst I was typing this, my 2nd Swallowtail just eclosed which hubby saw the tail end of and shouted to me so I just had to go and watch it for a bit. :-) I'm hoping with 13 chrysalises I might yet get to see an eclosion..... :-)

  3. Hi
    Thanks for this extra, interesting information-most helpful. Hadn't seen that the speckled wood was taken in May but makes sense...good luck with the swallowtails...

    1. Yeah sorry JJ, I just mentioned that most of the florals were dating back to May.... :-)
      I saw/filmed and photographed my first eclosion this morning (woohoo!) so that will be coming up on the blog in due course..... :-)

  4. Great post and stunning set of photos Mandy, love them all..
    Amanda xxx