I'll start with this Privet Hawkmoth that my OH found the other day at the base of the metal swings frame. We have actually seen it here before many moons ago but this is the first time I've got to photograph one. Afterwards I moved it to a shaded wall where it seemed happy to settle. We have no privet around here but their larvae feed on other plants including ash and lilac, which there are plenty of here.
|Privet Hawkmoth (Sphinx ligustri).|
|Privet Hawkmoth (Sphinx ligustri), seemed happier to be in the shade on the house wall.|
Then there's the story of my tadpoles. Well after we had an enormous amount of rain a few weeks back, they seemed to have disappeared! I did come across about 20 sheltering under an overhanging bramble, but last time I looked they were none there at all. I wonder if this is the culprit? I've no idea if they eat tadpoles, but the tads I last saw still only had hind legs and couldn't surely have become froglets in such a short space of time, could they? Also as sods law would have it, I was out with my DSLR and macro lens and no zoom just when I needed it.
|Grass snake (Natrix natrix).|
However as Keith (think I'm going to start calling him by his name now; all these years of calling the poor guy my OH seems a bit impersonal, specially as most of you know I'm Mandy rather than my nom de plume!) was mowing near the lake the other day he started noticing teeny things hopping about. Sure enough, they were tiny froglets! (Hope none got injured by the mower). So we had some fun watching them and trying to take photos, which wasn't easy as no sooner did I get focus lock but they'd hopped out of my viewfinder! I hope just a few survive - seems crazy considering the amount of tadpoles we started with but I guess tons get eaten by all sorts of things. I'm not very clued up about tadpoles and frogs to be honest. The amount of hours I've been spending trying to ID Odonata (damsels and dragons) lately hasn't given me time to learn about tadpoles.
|Teensy froglet, about 1cm long!|
Back to the country lanes and Keith's cycle rides - here are some great photos he's taken. He also discovered several Melodious Warblers along the track where I went for a walk with him (I've been back twice, more about that later). We once saw M. Warblers the other side of France near the Doubs river about 13 years ago, although we were never sure if they could have been Icterine Warblers, both of which have yellowy underparts. It was rather exciting as we had no idea that eastern Brittany was within their range. They are quite easy to ID by their song, if you are away from reedbeds, as they sound a bit like a demented Reed Warbler! Wikipedia describes the sound as a pleasant babbling. Well, it's a bit of both. :-)
|Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta).|
And a couple more pics of Stonechats - I haven't been lucky enough to see one yet.
|Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola), male.|
|Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola), male.|
These pictures are the icing on the cake - I chuckle every time I look at the surprised expressions on both the fox cub and the unsuspecting rabbit's face! Bunny just appeared, then was off like speedy gonzales, and K was very lucky to be already in the process of taking photos of the young fox when it all happened.
|One startled bunny and |
one rather confused fox cub.
When I got the opportunity to get back to this track in the sunshine, I'd spotted my first Skipper before even getting out of the car! I was really happy to see both Large and Small Skippers here. The second time I was able to get some pics of the Small Skipper so could confirm that it was indeed that and not an Essex Skipper. Also saw something minute and blue grey which flew into a clump of Greater Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus) and promptly disappeared from view. After searching in vain we touched the plant and it flew out and in between K's legs! By a process of elimination, I think it could have been a female Short-tailed Blue, which are often found around said plant it landed on as it's one of the host plants, and I know it was smaller than a Small Skipper as I'd just been looking at them. We don't have chalky soil here so I don't think it was a Small Blue. It may forever remain a mystery. Also saw my first Marbled Whites of the year. Back to my photos again.
|Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus), male.|
|Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - the tips of the antennae showing red differentiate |
it from the Essex Skipper, whose undersides to the tips are black.
This lovely dragonfly was accomodating and happy to pose for a number of photos - how often does that happen? :-)
|I think this is a Clubtail of the Gomphus genus, |
but unsure as to which one just yet!
|Yours truly Skipper spotting.|
I'll finish off with a few woodpecker photos from home taken through the kitchen window. I have more garden photos to share and various damsels and dragons but I'll make that another post, because nearly two weeks of photos is quite a lot to whittle down to one blog post!
|Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis).|
|Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major).|
|Dad feeding juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major).|
Things are getting better - my non abscess is properly healing and the hole in my perineal scar has shrunk enormously and I have hardly any pain from there at all. After three months of that I'm breathing a sigh of relief, I can tell you! I'm now more bendy and can do some garden jobs which involve bending down low. The worst is getting down on one knee though as I've lost so much weight and muscle that it's hard work getting up again!
I saw my Oncologist on Weds after having an abdominal pelvic ultrasound where nothing out of the ordinary was found. I told him I was concerned about my weight and muscle loss and that I couldn't see myself coping with another six sessions of chemo without ending up being hospitalised as I was bound to lose a load more weight. I asked for a two week extra break between round 7 and 8. At first he wasn't happy to give me more than one week, but then when he checked my blood test results from the day before, he was happy with it and agreed to the two weeks. All my red blood cells and platelets are still going slowly up in the right direction since starting the jabs and meds for anaemia. And my cancer marker test was in the normal healthy zone. They don't check for this at every blood test so the last one was pre the start of chemo and it hasn't changed, so that's good. He's also prescribed some new stronger anti nausea meds to take for five days during/after chemo and so far so good, no nausea and whilst I'm not hugely hungry at least I am eating three meals a day, even if they are on the small side.
Hopefully with this two week 'holiday', I'll get a chance to pig out, do some gardening, help K with some housework, and better yet, maybe even get out for a meal (preferably up at the coast). And get in some walks and try to put on some weight and a bit of muscle. My brother is coming over during this time which will be a lot better than if he'd come later in the summer as planned whilst I was feeling tired and grotty from the chemo! :-)
Will catch up with your blog posts now - I'm behind with that as well, and I know you are all finding exciting things too so I'm looking forward to what you have to share. xx