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Friday 1 March 2024

Odds and ends from last year

This is a selection of photos from last year which haven't fitted in to any other posts, so I'm putting them all together here.

These are some photos which K took whilst out walking in the local area. This is the first Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus) which he has seen around here.

Turtle Doves (Streptopelia turtur). They are not so common any more, and are far more often heard than seen.

This is a beautiful shot - he heard a Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) on the other side of a shrub from where he was standing and managed to get his lens inside and find the bird without it seeing or hearing him.

One day last July whilst my brother was still staying with us there was a sort of 'pop-up' medieval museum over the weekend. First we had a wander round the old bit of town up on the hill whilst looking for the museum.

Above are old buildings which have been done up on the exterior (boringly!), whereas below, there are quite a number of houses still in their old state. Many show signs of different repairs/renovations over the years. I think this one below is a gallery of some sort.

A rather interesting window!

Above the door arch in this building is a stone engraved with the year of the building - 1617.

The museum was really interesting. It was held by a husband and wife team who were passionate about all things medieval and take part in reenactments. They had been collecting, and making, medieval clothes, arms and tools over the years, and were so enthusiastic about it they just loved sharing their knowledge with visitors.

Below are mostly surgeon's tools. Makes my blood run cold just thinking about it! Also, in that box in the front are coins, dating from Roman times through to medieval and beyond. I asked the lady where she got them from and she said she had found them in her garden in the village!

She also made chain mail, a very time consuming labour of love. The husband had an enormous display of weapons and small working replicas of things like trebuchets. We spent about an hour here in these two small rooms, as there was so much to see and the couple were so interesting.

Onto the garden - Southern Green Shieldbugs (Nezara viridula) were a bit of a pest on my tomatoes. They were swarming over one of the trusses of a cherry tomato piercing the skin of the fruit, leaving spotty marks on them and rendering the fruit inedible - none of them tasted nice after that. Here though, it's on a Garlic Chive flower, not causing any harm.

This isn't the adult which is more of a plain green. This is one of the later stage instars, which I think is very pretty.

Another pest, but I still like it, is the Geranium Bronze (Cacyreus marshalli) from South Africa, which lays its eggs on geranium plants.

This is a Tabasco chilli and it's the first time I've grown one, so I was surprised to see how the fruit grew pointing upwards instead of the usual hanging downwards. They were also extremely hot!

I didn't plant that Verbena bonariensis. When I planted the tomatoes and chillies which I bought as small plants from the garden centre, I mixed up a bit of our own home grown compost with bought compost. Suddenly I had tomatoes, parsley and verbena seedlings all growing in the pots! I potted up some of the Verbenas and left the rest in place as they were too close to the other plants, so we got a lot of free colour on the patio last summer! I shall be planting some of them around here and there in the garden. It's funny, as I had planned on buying some seeds this year to grow a few to add to the garden as they are rather short lived perennials, and my old ones need replacing. ๐Ÿ˜€

When the Autumn Lady's Tresses orchids (Spiranthes spiralis) appeared, I tried to take photos of some, but Harry decided to plonk himself down in front of the camera! Luckily you can see the flowering stalk in front of him.

A Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) nibbling his/her toes!

Fast forward to this year and whilst doing some tidying of my shrubs recently, I finally came across my first ootheca, which is the egg case of the Praying Mantis! This one is an old one where the young have hatched out, but it was still an exciting find.

Now I just want to find one which still has living eggs/grubs inside so I can hope to find some tiny young mantises, as they look so cute!

I have moved some of the Wasp Spider egg sacs to safe places under shrubs or the hedge as I came across them whilst tidying up. K also cleared up the ditch this year as it was so overgrown with brambles and Old Man's Beard, and I remembered where the egg sacs were that I had found last year, so moved them too.


  1. Super photos Mandy. The pop up museum sounds as though it was brilliant. We have been growing chillis for a few years - son is trying to get one to overwinter! Your variety is unusual. Great news about the praying mantis egg case and I hope you get some photos of the babies :)

    1. Hi Caroline - Blogger is refusing to let me comment, at all, from my desktop, so I will have to be Anon on my iPad! Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m sure you would have loved the mini museum as you are so interested in history.

      My brother has overwintered a chilli, onto its 2nd winter now and he says it has a flower on it! He does have a grow light though, so he gets seeds etc going early. I doubt anyone can afford to heat a greenhouse any more so his is barely used during winter or early spring. Unlike modern French houses, he has deep windowsills at home and keeps geraniums etc going happily during winter. (We have no windowsills inside here, more’s the pity).

      I will certainly share pics if I come across baby mantises! ๐Ÿ˜„


  2. I love that you know all the names of the fauna and flora that you see. And Harry the Cat is magnificent

    1. Hi Mandy
      I’ve been gardening for decades and interested in wildlife for about 20 years and birding for about 30. So you learn a few things along the way (although I don’t know all those Latin names, I look them up! ๐Ÿ˜).
      Thanks very much
      Mandy xx (Anon as I’m on my iPad)

  3. Hi Mandy,
    Some interesting stuff there. Of course, you know I love Praying Mantises. From the small part of abdomen I could see, I'd say it was a female.
    I do hope you find some baby nymphs this season. They are sure cute. I couldn't find more than a few in summer here but it was a strange one being very dry here despite flooding in NSW.
    I like the look of the Shield bug nymph but I understand how annoying it is if it is destroying your crops!
    I've had trouble with a tiny Lace Bug that decimates my Correa plants. Lacewings are supposed to prey on them but I guess I never have enough of them to make difference.
    I look forward to seeing more of your garden and its inhabitants over my winter and your summer.
    Take care!

    1. Hi Kim! Thanks very much. The mantis was fairly big, the size we often see so I imagine it is a female. Have you seen my most recent post, as we found some 'living' oothecas which I am keeping an eye on as I've read that they hatch out in the spring when the temps reach about 17C. I hope they don't get fried though as they are on the underside of a metal drain cover!

      Sorry about your Lace Bug problem - I had to look up those plants of yours but I do actually recognise the flowers which I've probably seen in public gardens.
      Thanks again for visiting! xx