Thursday, 28 May 2009

Painted Ladies

After a friend had told me about how Painted Lady butterflies had come over in their hordes from Morocco, I went out into the garden and instantly spotted two on a hebe bush. The brighter one was joined by the paler one and they went spiralling into the sky on a graceful mating dance.

The frog we rescued from the top pond's overflow tank (it couldn't get out as there was no frog ladder) now looks happily settled in the bottom pond where it has the fish for company.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Mating damsel flies

I ducked as a huge insect whirred by. For a moment, I was back in Kaya village in Turkey where they have enormous red hornets. But this mega bug was only two red damsel flies locked together in mating. They considerately posed on the wheelbarrow for a few moments while I fetched the camera.

The other pic is of the mountaineering slug I found on my bedroom window. On the outside, I hasten to add!

Blue tit's first flight

I was just getting up this morning when I heard a 'thunk' against the window. I opened the curtains and there was a baby blue tit clinging to the outside ledge of the transom, staring in at me. It fluttered its wings and cheeped rather pathetically. I rushed off to get my camera but by the time I returned it had managed a second flight and was perched on the nearest twig of next door's overhanging copper beech tree.

Blue tits seem particularly clumsy when it comes to learning to fly. Another one flew straight into the patio doors at the side of the house last week, landing dazedly on the step, where it shook its head and scrambled back into the air, to land safely on the lilac tree once more.

Monday, 18 May 2009

The Midnight Snail

Poor Olive is around again, but she has got mange, probably from the extremely mangy dog fox. She is considerably more nervous and no longer sits in the garden in the daytime but sneaks in at night to grab our leftovers. Luckily, I had a spare bottle of the homeopathic mixture for fox mange, so I have been making her a honey sandwich every night and sprinkling four drops on it, as instructed. I hope they do the trick. (My partner is sure it's Olive, but I'm not so sure; I think it could be her sister, Kinky, who was always more shy than Olive. Whichever it is, I shall do my best to save her.)

As I was putting out the sandwich, I came across - in fact, almost trod on - these two snails making one another's acquaintance, I assume in preparation for doing whatever it is snails do to propogate their species. Exchanging slime, perhaps. Although I hate slugs, who seem obscenely undressed without a shell, I have a soft spot for snails and love their burnished, earth-coloured shells. Here they are, Romeo and Juliet, though I have no idea which is which.

I also snapped this peacock butterfly on some blossom beside the pond.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Young robin

I saw a bird I didn't recognise, sitting on top of the peanut feeder. It was an orangey chestnut all over, and about the size of a dunnock. My partner recognised it as a young robin, because the red on their breast takes a while to develop. Wonder if it's the one that was being fed by Widow Robin after Flad the Impaler had munched her mate?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Swifts are Back!

As I was walking back from the post office this morning, the air was suddenly split by the joyful shrieks of swifts. I feel sure it was May 7th that I first heard them last year. Wonderful!

I also spotted the solitary bird of prey I have seen for the last few months, wheeling around quite high up. It's not a buzzard as I can't spot the familiar 'fingers' on the wings. Wonder if it's a red kite?

PS: I just checked my 2008 blog entries and I first noticed them on 8th May. Just one day's difference. How accurate their inner clocks must be.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Hillingdon sparrows

Sparrows thrive in Hillingdon due to the large number of privet hedges which resound with merry chirrups as you pass. The sparrows in the photo are parents of one baby which they were feeding earlier - pity it's just one. Let's hope the other pairs in the neighbourhood have managed to raise bigger broods. Pictured with them is the bird we call the Blush as at first we weren't sure if it was a thrush or a female blackbird. It has a wonderful orange speckly breast - and a mate who is definitely a male blackbird.

As for this picture... who do you think won the race? (Considering I was at least 30 feet away, sitting at the kitchen table and shooting through the patio door, my little Pentax Optio doesn't take a bad picture.)

Friday, 1 May 2009

A frog at last!

We thought the frogs had died out or deserted as last year there was no spawn. This year some spawn was laid but it didn't develop. But today we saw this frog, and there was another somewhere in the pond's murky depths. Perhaps they will spawn again - or is it too late in the year?