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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Glow worms, foxes, garden jobs and a butterfly walk around the hamlet

It's that time of year, around the same time as I discovered glow worms last year. This time though I haven't had to go looking for them, as the males keep flying inside my bedroom when the window is open and the light is on at night! I've been putting several outside in the morning. Tried to capture this one on my hand rather than a door mat (it's not carpet!) but it wouldn't stand still. I've had a look out through the windows after dark but haven't seen any females glowing, but it's really best to get out there in the dark and look properly.

Male Glow Worm (Lampyris noctiluca).

We've discovered a less desirable garden visitor though. But before this was discovered, we went out for a butterfly/wildlife walk to two spots with tracks usually pretty good for butterflies. On the Melodious Warbler track I spotted a mature fox walking across some fields - do you know I think this is the first time I've seen one in broad daylight! I've seen urban foxes at night in London and have seen them on rare occasions round here whilst driving at night, caught in the headlights. So I was really happy to see it. However...... there have been quite a few cherry pip laden poos around in our garden, probably a mix of hedgehog (if they eat cherries), stone martens, and one which was distinctly dog like. So Keith set up the trail camera to see what might get caught. We were a bit shocked to see who is managing to get inside the garden at night -  thank goodness the chickens are safely shut inside the shed, and I hope my remaining two ducks stay out on the water. I'm not sure that I mentioned that Freckles, the last of the original white ducks, disappeared without trace a few months back, apart from a pile of white feathers. :-(

Not too keen on this garden visitor!

The trail camera also picked up a strange vision in the early morning...... (I'm now letting the chickens out and bringing Keith his cuppa in bed - the least I can do after all he's been doing for me for the last four months!)

Caught in my dressing gown and wellies again, with Bertie keeping me company!

I've started to do a bit of gardening and I'm trying to tidy up and dead head in the flower beds, as there are lots of annuals and biennials which are over and need pulling out. That's a job and a half and I'm only able to do a bit here and there, but I've been enjoying it as it's been a long time since I did any proper gardening!

Tidy-ish corner!

My sedums in pots are flowering, and the house leeks.

Here's the sort of mess that needs sorting - Love in a Mist gone to seed,
ditto Chives which need chopping back, plus that yellow weed
is setting seed..... all these are self seeded plants anyway!

Just a few pics taken around the place in the last week or so.

Male Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans).

Demoiselles are hard to capture as they don't stay still for long and I always have to zoom in on them - never got close enough to use macro on them. But I love those wings.

Female Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) - I think.
They have a white spot on the wing tips that are smaller than that of
the Banded Demoiselle, but the females seem hard to tell apart.

Female Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo).

Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), a wildflower growing down by the pond edge.
It also grows low through the mowed areas in the
slightly wilder areas of my garden.

A small solitary bee on a wildflower.

My Bronze Fennel is covered in Common Red Soldier Beetles (Rhagonycha fulva),
many of whom are mating.

Here are some creatures I saw on my last wildlife walk. I've only been out once as it's either been too hot, or overcast and therefore no good for butterflies, or I wasn't feeling up to it, but the ditches and verges are full of wildflowers and insect life and I reckon I saw about 15 species of butterfly between two places.

This lovely dragonfly was following us about.
It's a female Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum).

Female Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum).

Small Skipper, that I thought at first was an Essex Skipper. I took lots of photos and
only in the last couple did I see the tell tale signs of red on the tips of the antennae!
So it pays to shoot at different angles if you are trying to ID these skippers.

Best I've got so far this year of a Marbled White (Melanargia galathea),
I did a lot better two years ago when there were loads of them about!

A Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) was happy feeding from these flowers when a
tatty old Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) arrived, a little too close for the Skipper.

So the Large Skipper skipped off!

At home the Gatekeepers have just started to appear, and I saw a Map butterfly yesterday, but apart from tons of (Cabbage) Whites, Meadow Browns and Hummingbird Hawkmoths, I'm not seeing the variety that I saw out and about. I did get a glimpse of what I think is a Lulworth Skipper, as I've been watching my tall lavenders through the window, and a teeny skipper landed on one yesterday, only to disappear completely as soon as I got outside..... typical. They are one of the few butterflies who love the lavender and I've been seeing these skippers on them for the last two years, so here's hoping I'll get to see them closer up soon! :-)

Overhead the Swifts are flying low and making that whee whee sound that they do; I wonder if they are youngsters. They always sound like they are saying "Whee, look at me, I can fly!". And Keith found a grass snake in one of our compost bins, always a nice thing to find, but luckily it hadn't laid any eggs as he needed to turn the compost. 

Map Butterfly (Araschnia levana) 2nd generation.


  1. Love the dragonflies, Mandy! Good to see you out and about again too. x

    1. Thanks very much, Sandra. All these little ordinary jobs mean so much to me to be able to do again now! xx

  2. Well Good Morning Beautiful. Love these beauties and am also glad to see you moving about showing us a glimpse of the beautiful world around you. Love You Mandy.

    1. Thanks very much my friend Virgil - love you too. xx

  3. Stunning photos, who knew how beautiful the deagonflies are? Mine are always out of focus. Haha

    Glad you are managing to get some gardening done, I bet somone's happy about that!

    1. I love taking (or trying to take) photos of dragonflies and damselflies, they are my favourite insects after butterflies! And I do spent quite a lot of time by the pond watching them. I think my OH is happier to have his cuppa in bed in the morning and a bit of a lie in rather than do my weeding, haha! :-) Cheers D-woman. :-)

    2. lol - you wouldn't get half as much done in you garden if you had one! :-)

  4. Your photos are wonderful, like the wings on the female Demoiselle, been out looking for butterflies to seeing plenty of ringlets, meadow browns and now the Burnet's are out adding a splash of colour. The map butterfly is beautiful. I use do evenings at work and would often see a fox. The weather has been all over the place here, one day to hot the next you need a coat !!
    Hope you are getting stronger over the summer months, take care....
    Amanda xx

    1. Hi Amanda - I've still never seen a Ringlet! They should be around this area but obviously not! It's very dry here and I've had to water a lot, and there are a lot of drought and watering restrictions in parts of western France, particularly the SW. Still got plenty of stored water but it won't last forever. Oh well it's always like this for part of the summer here.

      I have been seeing Burnets too but not got a single photo as they have just been flitting about. Discovered something very special which I'll tell you about in the next post - all the more reason to get a moth trap!!! Cheers Amanda, health wise things are getting better. xx

  5. Great shots Mandy, my favourite is the first Black-tailed Skimmer shot, the plain dark background enhances the colour of the Dragonfly and the angle of the two sticks make a nice composition. Good to see you out and about and Keith is getting tea in bed.... love the dressing gown and wellies look. Had some problems in England meaning a later visit to Brittany now, so no idea what to expect in the garden, I think there will be Marrows galore!

    1. Thanks Ian, I was able to get close to the Skimmer, but couldn't really change my angle much - wasn't going to stomp through all the wildflowers on the verge and I'd have disturbed the dragonfly anyway, so was lucky I guess with the background. Can't usually choose good composition when it comes to flitty insects!

      I'm pretty sure you will have some marrows. :-) We've picked about 10 courgettes now but being good and getting them whilst still small. I'm quite famous for my dressing gown and wellies look...... a neighbour saw me one morning and came up to the fence to talk to me and I thought Oh no, how embarassing, until I saw she was dressed exactly the same as me, she was getting firewood in! :-)

  6. Lovely photographs Mandy, I was intrigued when you mentioned Essex Skippers and Lulworth Skippers so I've just been googling them. The site that I looked on said they were found within 5 miles of the Coast so I'm a bit puzzled.
    Nice to see you and the cat out and about doing your morning jobs while K has a well earned lie in.

    Philippa x

    1. Hi Philippa - the Lulworth Skipper is only found in a few places in England, notably Lulworth Cove in Dorset and I think somewhere in Devon. Whereas here on mainland Europe it's found all over the place. Probably the same with the Essex Skipper.

      Keith certainly deserves a break so that's the least I can do. I am doing a lot of the cooking now too which I am actually enjoying as it has not got to being a chore yet.... :-) Thanks my dear! xx

  7. Lovely photos Mandy and it's great to see you up and about.xx

    1. Thanks Deb - great to feel a bit better! Now that my post surgery problems are getting better, it makes a hell of a difference! xx

  8. So sorry for the late comment - new computer is more or less fully installed now :) Thanks so much for your supportive comments re: my computer problems.

    A wonderful post with some glorious photos especially love all the dragonfly photos - just wonderful. We had a banded demoiselle in the garden last week - the first I've seen in the garden. Thanks for the tip re: photos of Essex/Small Skipper I spent ages last year trying to work out which species each small skipper I saw was!

    Love the sedum and house leek pots - they are one of my favourites :)

    Sorry to hear about the fox - hope chickens and ducks remain safe.

    Its good to hear you are getting out and about more and able to do some gardening.

    1. Sorry for the late reply, RR! So pleased you have got your computer problems almost sorted now and I'll catch up with your posts soon. Have got one to do myself but we are out and about at the moment so enjoying some time feeling a bit better! Thanks very much for your lovely comments. Guess what, my moth trap is on order! I blame you all...... ;-) Also I'm glad you finally had a demoiselle in the garden. I wonder how many dragons and damsels I'd see here if I didn't have a pond. Probably not very many, although I did have a huge groovy dragonfly in the veg patch once on my digging fork! xx

  9. The Map flutter is so like e White Admiral from that angle. I think you showed us one last year as well if memory serves? We don't get them here xx

    1. Hi CT - yes I did show it last year and I've got some other photos of it since which are a little better. I haven't seen a White Admiral in Brittany although I've seen them the other side of France - so there are flutters that you see that I don't (Ringlets are other ones that I've never seen anywhere!). xx