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Sunday, 31 May 2015

More bugs and flowers in May

I'm trying to get my May photos posted before June arrives! Having looked at the weather forecast, I'm freaking out seeing temps over 30c and wall to wall sunshine from Thursday onwards, as we haven't had that much rain in May, so the garden will shrivel up with those kind of temps (and so will I). Well at least the water butts are all full, including my 4000 litre ex septic tank reservoir.

For now though, looking back over the end of May, and some of my bug finds. It helps me now that the vegetation has grown, so insects are often higher up and easier to photograph, although I'm finding that I'm getting more agile and bendy and can sometimes actually bend over and pick things up off the floor, and can stroke the cats now, instead of just the tips of their tails!

Absolutely tiny Misumena vatia crab spider on an Ox-eye Daisy.

Strangely this last week I've seen very few butterflies, only a couple of Small Whites, and the usual Speckled Woods in my little woodland area. And that's when it's been sunny! Very odd. But this one was seen one evening earlier in the month but I forgot to put it on my last blog post.

Settling down for the night, Small Heath
(Coenonympha pamphilus) butterfly on Irises.

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) butterfly.

Drinker Moth caterpillar (Euthrix potatoria).

A very handsome Longhorn Beetle.

Agapanthia sp., probably A. cardui.

One of the first Blackberry flowers blooming, with a solitary bee.
I hadn't noticed the little spider there though! Possibly a crab spider?
The bee survived. :-)

Tadpoles again, there are thousands of them!
This time I used a polarising filter to cut the glare.

A newish shrub, Physocarpus diabolo. Top it is attracting a small solitary bee,
and bottom left if you can open this full screen you'll see a miniscule spider!

Physocarpus diabolo. I'm really pleased as last year it only had
about four flowers, and this year it is loaded!

Happy to see the return of Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) at the base
of my lime green smokebush! It seemed to disappear years ago
after several very dry springs, but this year it's back.

Golden leafed Weigela, on the right attracting a Carder Bee.

Pretty variegated Weigela, name unknown as it
came as a cutting from a friend's garden.

Spirea 'Goldflame' in bud.

A couple of shade lovers in the veg patch under the greengage tree:
Hedge Woundwort on the left and Foxglove on the right.

Peonies are just starting to flower, which usually means rain,
as these blooms are so big and heavy that the stems can
barely support them even when they are dry.
We usually cut the bigger ones and bring them inside.

 I think this is a bunch of newly fledged Great Tits (Parus major)!
They are so cute.

That's nearly it for May photos. There is plenty going on in the garden; the Blue Tits in the nest box must have fledged but they haven't been visiting the feeders with mum, but I've heard them in the trees so I guess they are getting a lesson in searching for green caterpillars, which is mostly what they are fed when in the nest. I'm trying to really enjoy the birdsong and dawn chorus (even whilst I'm cursing the blackbird for singing at 5am) because I know by the end of June it will go rather quiet on that front.

There are a number of tiny Mullein Moth caterpillars on the Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) in the Pollinator Meadow. Really the Pollinator Meadow should be renamed the Bug Bar, as it's as much about native host plants now as a nectar and pollen bar! There's even grass and nettles in it which both support many species of butterfly and moth. It's actually very liberating having an area of the garden where I don't have to worry about weeds in amongst my flowers! :-)

Mullein Moth (Cucullia verbasci) caterpillar early instar.

As for how I am doing now, I'm tired, very tired. Have just finished round 5 of my chemo, so next time I'll be halfway through! The butt area pain is greatly diminishing which is a relief, although it may well come back as I know only too well. For now, I'll just enjoy it while it lasts.


  1. As always, stunning photography and informative. Thanks.

  2. As always fantastic photos and I always learn something. Glad your butt is feeling a bit better. Sabine xxx

    1. Thanks Sabine! Maybe I shouldn't be talking about my butt, and water butts, in the same post though! ;-) x

  3. Glad your pain has diminished. Great that you are getting out and catching the bugs on camera, there seem to be plenty of them about. How come the only caterpillars I ever see are the boring cabbage white?

    Hope your progress continues.

    1. Thanks Debrazzawoman. I don't find that many interesting caterpillars, and there seem so few of them compared to the amount we get on our brassicas! Just luck or chance when I do find one, and helps to have a camera at the ready. :-)

  4. Superb pictures, as always. Lovely to see your longhorn beetle, just like mine! Not many flutters at home here over the last few weeks either- too cold or rather, only intermittently sunny.

    Glad you're feeling better if still tired xx

    1. Thanks CT - but you've seen loads of interesting butterflies away from home, so you are the lucky one! :-) Love those longhorns! xx

  5. This is a lovely update Mandy. So many beautiful flowers and of course....bugs ;-) Just love that longhorn beetle. Only seen a couple of those around here and usually near to water. Same here with butterflies by the way, April was better than most years but since, hardly a sighting and few species to be seen. The mullein caterpillar is very colourful and they get quite large don't they.
    I'm so pleased you had better luck with your tits than I did with mine!

    Keep fighting the fight and know that we are all behind you ;-)

    (Not gonna tick notify me this time cos I couldn't be bothered with getting ALL the comments last time ;-)

    1. Hi JJ and thanks. I understand about the notify me thing, as sometimes I get inundated with emails! Now I rarely use it, but then have to remember where I commented to visit to see the reply..... there seems no easy answer!

      Was happy to see a number of the Mullein cats as I'd let the Verbascum grow there on purpose, especially for these moths. I've not seen the moth, but they look very drab compared to the caterpillar, but that's so often the case. :-)

  6. Like the crab spider shot on the Ox-eye daisy Mandy. Glad you are a bit better, hope next course of chemo is ok. I did a pollinator strip tuesday last in Brittany, but the ground was really dry, and I notice you are same and you say its going to get warmer, so may not come to much.

    1. Hi Ian and thanks. We had some rain yesterday, so hopefully it fell on your garden in Brittany too. I hope your wildflower strip gets a chance to establish, I'm sure it will, and you'll have something a lot more interesting than courgettes to look at! ;-)

  7. The shots are amazing Mandy! Love seeing your work.

    With regards to you health (hugssss) I pray your days of pain come to an end soon and you're back to doing what you love ♥

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, April. Hugs back at you re health problems! xx

  8. Lovely photos Mandy, I do like the look of the Longhorn beetle and I have the dark pink bush (Physocarpus diabolo) in my garden it's just coming into flower, quite slow growing compared to some plants. Yes if it does get hot we will all be fed up in a week, but it would be nice not to still be wearing my winter coat, sales for summer stuff are going to be good !
    Take care ...
    Amanda xx

    1. Thanks Amanda! I only got the Physocarpus last spring or was it the autumn before. Well it wasn't very happy with my dry soil last summer so I had to water it a lot, so was surprised to see how much bigger it was this spring! Actually I do agree with you about the warmth (thankfully it now says high 20s rather than over 30c) as I am mega sensitive to cold after my chemo, and under about 20c my hands tingle, and I have to wear a warm jacket! Wish I had a better appetite as it sounds like BBQ weather - well I can always eat barbecued chicken or sausages cold. :-) xx

  9. A lovely post with some great photos :) Love the Longhorn beetle and the crab spider on ox-eye daisy :) My one and only Ragged Robin by the pond seems to have disappeared again - possibly OH has been hoeing too vigorously :( just hope it might re-appear next year! Our foxglove flowers look on the verge of opening - love to watch the bees on them :)

    Its still very cold here - not good weather at all for insects. Looks warmer here too middle of the week.

    Glad to hear you are feeling a little bit better. Take care and I hope the next round of chemo isn't too onerous.

    1. Thanks RR. I guessed you must like Ragged Robin the plant, or you have a raggedy robin living in your garden! Was surprised to see it back again as it's not normally a damp spot. Hope yours comes back!

      We are due some really hot weather Thursday and Friday, then settling to nice temps with sunshine, so hope the butterflies will come out to play. Hope I'll be able to enjoy it - had a good day yesterday and did a bit of gardening (weeding), which felt great. :-)

  10. Beautiful flower images Mandy and yes thats a bunch of young Great Tits alright.

    1. Thanks Roy! I wasn't 100% sure about the tits, as I'm used to seeing baby blue tits feeding on my feeders, but not so much the greaties. :-)