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Sunday, 3 July 2016

Where did June go?!!

We are just back from a MoHo trip and about to go off on another one, so really making the most of this wonderfully dismal weather! This June was certainly not flaming, more like a damp squib. On the plus side, no watering of the garden and the grass is still nice and green.

Summing up June when we were at home - newly fledged birds figured high this month. Something I noticed in May, which was confirmed by a snippet I heard on Springwatch on the TV about the failure of caterpillars this year, something that happens about once every 12 years. I'd thought that there must have been a lack of the usual little green caterpillars that the Tits (particularly Blue Tits) feed to their young. Now, normally there is a period where the Tits seem to disappear, and hardly any birds visit the feeders. One fatball can last a week or more. This is during the period of the caterpillar and the raising of the young. But this year that quiet period never happened and we have been feeding the birds left right and centre these last two months. During June all the parents showed their newly fledged kids where the free meals were, and we have been going through fatballs and peanuts ever since at a rate of knots. This too is unusual as usually the newly fledged birds leave the feeders after a few days of getting acquainted with the free meals, presumably preferring to eat more natural food elsewhere. So all the more reason to feed our garden birds all year round.

A young Blue Tit, just fledged, sits on the windowsill wondering where to go next.  

"It looks nice in there".

I saved this just fledged wren from Hallie - it was an amazing sight as suddenly two little birds flew low over the veg patch and Hallie leapt into the air and caught this bird! Thank god I was there and was able to get it from her unharmed. I put the little bird in the hedge at the bottom of the garden (there were cats everywhere and no good vegetation around where I found it). I then felt guilty as Mama Wren was calling for her babies and I'd put it in a different place. Well, what can you do?!

Mama Wren calling (damn that fence wire!).

The home made feeder is looking a bit the worse for wear now - sometimes it has about 10 juvenile Tits on it, not to mention baby Great Spotted Woodpecker who visits often, plus other adult birds.

Another young Blue Tit.

And in other news - what's this hideous photo for? Well I had a tooth out. I really didn't think I'd be posting this in public but I am!! And why am I wearing a fur stole? Well it's Bertie and me trying to take selfies together. :-) OK forget the smiley face, I am in the early stages of having a bridge done involving four teeth (one now out) and two root canals..... ugh. :-( It really doesn't help that I can only understand about 30% of what my dentist says, so I have no idea why I need root canals. She's the only French person who I've ever come across who doesn't understand anything I say either!! I just have to hope for the best here.

I found a Bee Beetle (Trichius fasciatus)! I don't see these guys very often and they are so funky.

This Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) was in the chicken shed - I thought it was dead as it was lying on the ground unmoving and then did a good impression of being dead on my hand too. Luckily for it, it started to move so I put it on this Clematis, 'The President", and it came back to life.

June marked the return of the blue damselflies, several species being spotted, though I've only seen one dragonfly here flying around the pond, and only on a few sunny warm days. 

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)

Butterflies have been very thin on the ground, with a few brave Painted Ladies and the return of our stalwarts, the Meadow Brown, usually flying low over the lawn. 

Plants are loving the damper conditions and the veg patch continues to look stunning (so long as you don't look closer at the more weedy wildflowers!). This is mid month when the Opium poppies were in full bloom and the foxgloves too. Now it's more great spires of Verbascum and Verbena bonariensis giving height. This photo is probably best clicked on to view full screen.

I left a couple of parsnips in to flower as I hadn't ever seen their blooms - I remembered that they were yellow as some years back Cleve West used them in a Chelsea design. Actually they are more stunning than I thought - quite similar to dill but a lot more chunky. Insects like them too.

Phone photo of some bugs on the parsnip flowers: Crab Spider, Red Soldier Beetle and Thick Thighed Flower Beetle.

I also left some carrots in the ground and they are flowering too - really I shouldn't be surprised that cultivated carrots look very much like..... wild carrot flowers! I found a crab spider on one of them too.

Over the garden gate - Opium poppies and our native red poppy. A lot of the white flowers here are coriander gone to seed.

Opium poppies up close - they are very photogenic.

New Heuchera bed after a weed. The little fence is working for keeping the chickens off!

Sheltering from the rain in the potting shed.

Towards the end of the month we discovered this Alder tree fallen in the lake. There is a stand of them two-thirds of the way up the pond and one of them's roots interspersed with soil stuck out into the pond a little way, like a little island. Over the years though when the water level has gone down, the tree's rootball has been tunnelled under by muskrats and probably coypu, leaving it weakened, and we have been waiting for this to happen. One smaller tree fell a few years ago, but this one has taken the rootball with it and none of it is exactly accessible. I'm not sure what will happen with this tree, but for now there's a nice Kingfisher perch which I hope will be used.

One last picture - I've had the moth trap out a few times and whilst I haven't had as much variety as I had expected for this time of year, I did bag a beautiful Elephant Hawkmoth one night.

Let's hope for some warmer weather in July, and a few more butterflies! 


  1. I think the Bee Beetle steals the show for me - never seen one. The Elephant is still good though. :)

    1. I love the Bee Beetles and get excited when I see one - definitely a buggy superstar, up the top with the Elephant of course. :-)

  2. Wonderful post and lots of lovely photos, are you going to leave the tree to nature ?, Have to say the Bee Beetle is a stunner...
    Wish u luck at the dentist
    Amanda xx

    1. Thank you Amanda. Not sure what will happen with the tree because we can't get to either end of it as they are both in the lake! And when the water level goes down (if it ever does this year) it is still very muddy and I wouldn't dare venture into the middle for fear of getting stuck in the mud. We have a 'tree man' who will be coming and felling a few more overgrown trees this autumn so will speak to him about it. And thanks for the good luck for the dentist! xx

  3. That little blue tit is very pretty with its yellow face

  4. A wonderful post Mandy with some glorious photos :) Just adore that Bee Beetle - it is stunning :) Your garden is looking lovely and a real magnet for insects :) Thanks for the parsnip flower photos - just realised that is what is flowering in last year's vegetable area! Will have to go up later and check for insects!

    Good Luck at the dentist and do hope you get a Kingfisher visit!!

    1. ps hope you had a good moho trip :)

    2. Thanks Caroline - sorry for the delay replying! My brother has left now and I have a lot of work to do tidying up the garden. We had a couple of brilliant trips which I will probably get posted on the blog about November at this rate!! I think the parsnip and the carrot flowers are brilliant, but it does mean there will be lots of them self seeding next year. :-)

  5. I love the bee beetle as well, it's a fabulous looking little creature. The elephant hawkmoth is great, too. I love all the fledglings, they're so vulnerable and that is great that you managed to rescue that gorgeous little wren. I hope you get a kingfisher on the new perch.
    Hope all goes well with all the work on your teeth.

    1. Thanks Wendy. Sorry about the delay replying but we were away again and it has been hectic since we got back. I'm at the dentist again on Weds but the frustrating thing is that she is then away for a month in August (always the way in France during Les Vacances). Then we are away most of Sept. My bridge will probably be finished about November at this rate. :-(