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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Bugs, birds and butterflies from the last few weeks

It's been wet the last few days although there has been some sun in between, and still I see bees and butterflies make the most of those intermittent dry spells. Our garden sorely needed rain and it looked like it was really set in, but you only have to look at the weather forecast the next day to see it change completely, so for the next week it looks like sun is back and reasonably warm weather. This of course is after all thoughts had turned to winter duvets, electric blankets and the wood burner!

I've taken a few autumnal looking shots but will save those for later on, as for the most part the garden and countryside still look very green - it was more the trees with shallow roots which dry out (too) quickly like poplars and silver birch which were turning colour and dropping leaves and now, cross fingers, we should get a good showing of autumn colour now there is some moisture in the soil.

My only garden picture here showing my poor Yucca with the white flowers,
which collapsed under the weight of five, yes five, flower stalks all out of one branch
which has semi-snapped at the base. What a shame.

Now I'm going back to the end of September and some better photos that I managed to get of the Western Willow Spreadwing damselfly.

Western Willow Spreadwing (Lestes viridis).

Western Willow Spreadwing (Lestes viridis) again.

End of Sept and here's a Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis) sunning herself
(or awaiting prey to land) on a fading rudbeckia flower.

This is Misumena vatia, my favourite crab spider. This poor thing only has 6 legs and I have
never seen one with a wrinkled abdomen before, which I hope doesn't mean that it is starving
due to the lack of limbs and perhaps agility when it comes to hunting.

It's the time of year for Crane Flies but I've never seen them mating before. This is on a water butt.

And Hoorah! I saw another female Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) and this one was pristine.
I spent about 20 mins following her around the lawn as she was being very flitty
(and you can see how brown the grass was looking then).

Female Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus).

There's never a shortage of Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria) in my garden though
and this one posed for me on a bramble leaf.

And now to a few birds......

My only two captures of Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita) - these are warblers and are
very flitty little things and the 2nd photo was taken through double glazing
in my Oleander just outside the living room window.

Mr Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) enjoying the Sunflower seedheads.

Mrs Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs). Chaffinches are common garden birds all year round here.

Due to the mild weather I saw some lovely colour in the fields today where green manure has been sown and which is flowering beautifully. Lots of fields of phacelia and a yellow mustard which I assume is green manure rather than autumn rape, although they do look identical. I bet those fields are buzzing with bees on a sunny day. No chance of a photo as (1) I didn't have a camera with me (we were going to the supermarket!) and (2), you can't always just stop on a main road to take a photo!

From now on blogging from me will be sporadic, due to 'stuff' going on in my life and I will endeavour to catch up with your blogs, although I may be behind or miss some of your posts. Without going into details I am not in the best of health and have a lot of hospital tests/specialist appointments right now. But I am telling you because I don't want to feel pressure to keep up my blog during times when I am not feeling well. I am sure you will understand. Take care. xx


  1. Enjoyable as always, Mandy! I'm really sorry to hear your health isn't at its best and hope you find a quick answer so you can get back to your normal (yet crazy) schedule :-)

    1. Thanks so much Marianne and I appreciate your nice comments! xx

  2. Yet another nice collection of photographs here. Good to hear your weather has settled again too-we have the opposite with a week of rain and more coming.

    I love the name of that damselfly and your photo proves that you can't always rely on the saying that dragonflies are the only ones to sit with their wings open like that. Not sure about the spider...I saw a similar one though and the one I saw had just raised babies and was looking a bit dehydrated , I hope yours is managing to find and catch food.

    Interesting that you haven't had many common blue there, seen less than usual here too. The chaffinch photos are charming Mandy.

    Sorry to hear your health is less than perfect. Take care and I really hope things improve for you soon.

    1. Well JJ I've just looked at the forecast and it's changed again..... that's October for you!

      Re. the damselfly, I think the Spreadwings (Lestes) are the only ones that do perch with their wings like that and that's why they have that name. This one is also known as Chalcolestes, but I'm never sure who is correct with the Latin naming from various sites I look at - can't always trust Wikipedia.

      All the Misumena vatia spiders I've seen before have been very fat looking spiders (but they did all have 8 legs) so it was something that stood out. I haven't seen so many of them this year as last year though. Have had plenty of Holly Blues here this year but it hasn't been a good butterfly late summer/autumn at all. Can't have it all I guess!

      And thanks for your well wishes. xx

  3. Hi Mandy, been enjoying your blog, I miss being out in Brittany and so its nice to read how things are out there. Sorry to hear of your health, hoping you will be back to your good self soon.

    1. Hi Ian - was hoping to hear from you at some point to see if you managed to keep up with the courgette harvest! I have about 20 still in my fridge and although one plant has flopped and is dying (hoorah!) the other keeps on producing. It may be a while before I get better but hope I will have some times when I am feeling better than others so can still take photos and post a bit here and there. Thanks very much.

  4. Cracking shots, but you could have warned me the spiders were coming up :o)

    I've just spent the day with a moth man who trapped FIVE Cliftons in his garden this week- I told him you'd be jealous. He doesn't live all that far from me so now I have renewed vigour about trying for one!

    Hope you are OK and it's nothing too serious? x

    1. CT - I'm so sorry about the spiders but they are only little, honest! ;-)

      I knew immediately what kind of moth you meant, as I keep spelling it wrong myself and have to check. I keep spelling it Cliveden (after the house) but then have to google to check!! And OF COURSE I am jealous!!

      Health - ummmmm not good. Are you on facebook? If you are then this is me and I'm happy to be friends:
      Not that I have mentioned in public to my friends what my problem is but I'll have to at some point. Just do not want my blog turned into doom and gloom.

    2. I'm not on facebook but will email you if I can find your email on your contacts page. Not sure I should say this for fear of increasing the jealousy load, but guess what turned up in our garden last night....? Will put the pics on the blog later today if I get time. He was a tad tatty but did show off his beautiful blue skirts AND sat on my hand for ages. It was rather hard to get to sleep afterwards, due to the slightly excessive excitement the visit caused. Even my husband was chuffed and that's saying something when it comes to moths!

    3. I saw and I've commented and it is bloody great news! So pleased for you. :-)

  5. PS- just realised I've spelt that wrong- Clifdens, in case you wondered what on earth I was talking about!

  6. Excellent post once again, Mandy. You are amazing with keeping up your blog unlike me! Hardly anyone read mine anyway so no-one will miss it!
    Some great photos here too!
    Take care my friend and hoping for the best for your health prognosis.

    1. Thank you Kim. I read your blog! Hopefully you will make some posts soon when your bug activity picks up again. Weather keeps changing here although I did see a humungous hairy caterpillar yesterday that I haven't had a chance to ID yet - biggest cat I've ever seen!
      And thanks for the best wishes about my health. xx

  7. Hi Mandy, just managing to use computer with one hand at the moment (all went well with opp). Hope you are ok...
    Ever time I see a spider I think of you, and we have allot around at the moment, the damp misty weather has been showing up all the webs (can't hold my camera yet :( ).
    love the photos in the post..Take care.
    Amanda xxx

    1. Hi Amanda and glad the op went well and hope you'll soon get use of your hand back again - don't worry about commenting on posts with one hand - that's hard work! I'm very happy that you think of me whenever you see a spider though, makes me smile. :-) xx