Saturday, 27 July 2013

Magpie Moth

When I spotted this pretty creature fluttering against the window, at first I thought it was a butterfly. But when it settled with wings spread, I realised it was probably a moth. I had never seen one like it before, so I took a photo, then released it into the garden.

t wasn't until I zoomed in on the photo that I noticed the rust-coloured spots. This enabled me to identify it in my field guide as a Magpie Moth. Common in gardens and hedgerows, it flies from June to August and is disliked by gardeners as it likes to lay its eggs on gooseberry and currant bushes, which then get decimated by the hungry caterpillars!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Swifts off soon?

Today, I counted a shrieking crew of twelve swifts, massing together then scimitaring through the sky, arcing between houses, flicking sideways through trees, then soaring back up into the blue.

I have noticed that the ants always pick a hot, thundery day, usually at the end of July or start of August, to swarm. I have just been out and they are swarming now, two weeks early. The swifts usually leave soon after gorging their fill on ants carried upwards on thermals, so I think we shall soon have to bid these glorious acrobats of the sky farewell till next May. The skies will seem quiet and empty without them.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The birds and the bees

My partner was kneeling at the back of the pond, doing something to the pond filter, when his knee started vibrating. He shifted it and to his amazement, several bumble bees flew out from underneath. He had been kneeling right on the entrance to their nest which has been cleverly positioned in the roots of a plant. Last week, the white hebe bush was in flower and it was completely buzzing, absolutely alive with bees. Now the purple hebe is out, and the honeysuckle too, so the bees still have plenty of nectar.

Don't they have a splendid doorway?

Now for the birds. There is a huge flock of starlings roosting somewhere not far away. We often get more than thirty in the garden at once. The suet balls are very popular and they can strip the feeder in ten minutes. Here is a bunch of them queuing for their turn.

The collective noun for starlings should be a clamour, not a murmuration!

Last but not least, here is a cure ring-necked parakeet swinging on the peanuts.