Move!

Dear readers,
This blog is moving to a new address! If you are following this blog don’t worry as your subscription will automatically move to the new address. Thank you very much for following and I hope you will continue to enjoy the blog in the new location.
You can now find me here: http://www.suzyblue.org.uk/blog/
See you there!
Suzy x

Here Be Dragons

Sorry I’ve not posted for nearly a week. It’s been one of those weeks, but it’s the weekend and yesterday we had a lovely morning walk at Cors Caron, our local marshy nature reserve. One of the main features of the walk were Dragonflies (and Damselflies) and I kept thinking to myself of old-fashioned maps with “Here Be Dragons” written across them :) Here are some of the dragons we found:

Black Darter

Black Darter

Black Darter

Black Darter

Black Darter

Black Darter

Four-Spotted Chaser

Four-Spotted Chaser

Black Darter

Black Darter

There were many many other dragons I didn’t get a shot of as they whizzed and whirred around. I did spot a new-to-me damselfly as well which made me happy – the Emerald Damsefly:

Emerald Damselfly

Emerald Damselfly

Summer Sunday Stroll

Yesterday was warm and quite sunny so we headed out for a short walk around the village. Before leaving I noticed that our Buddleia flowers are just starting to come out:

Buddleia

Buddleia

There were quite a few Birds Foot Trefoils growing in the grassy areas

Birds Foot Trefoil

There are also other similar but taller flowers which I’ve identified as Meadow Vetchling:

Meadow Vetchling

Meadow Vetchling

This Small Skipper seemed to rather like the Meadow Vetchling and sat obligingly for a while so I could get a good shot :)

Small Skipper on Meadow Vetchling

Small Skipper on Meadow Vetchling

Nearby I spotted two more wildflowers that I don’t think I have blogged before – Self-Heal and Hedge Woundwort. Both pretty pinky-purple flowers.

Self-Heal

Self-Heal

Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica)

Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica)

Heading off down the road I spied my first Bindweed flower. I’ve been seeing the stems twisting round other things, but this is the first flower.

Bindweed

Bindweed

The Dog Roses are still going, though there are less of them now I think. They still look very pretty:

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

Fruits and nuts are swelling fast now – there were several nice clumps of Hazelnuts, as well as the Hawthorn Haws in the hedgerow. And round by the pond the Apples have got quite fat since the last time I was there.

Hazel nuts

Hawthorn haws

Hawthorn haws

Apples

Apples

The poor old Redcurrant/Gooseberry bush (not a Hawthorn!) is looking a bit sorry for itself as someone decided that the hedge/verge needed to be cut back. Sadly the Redcurrant/Gooseberry bush has ended up hacked to bits. There are still a couple of fruits left but it’s not a pretty sight. We have rebelled against this early cutting and the edge of our grass bank outside is all tall grass where we’ve left the edge to grow. I wish I had some native hedgerow in the garden instead of the horrible Leylandii hedge that I’m stuck with. Anyway, moving on …

Near the pond some new flowers have emerged – Scabious and Mallow:

Scabious

Scabious

Mallow

Mallow

The Mallow is hard to photograph because its so delicate and its difficult to capture that. I’m intrigued by their stigmas and stamens … it brings out the dormant biologist in me :)

We spotted a Meadow Brown Butterfly but it was being exceedingly awkward and refused to let me take a decent photo. I had to make do with this one where you can barely distinguish it from the wood chip!

Meadow Brown Butterfly

Meadow Brown Butterfly

Time is definitely moving fast as it doesn’t seem long since all was bare and we were waiting for leaves to appear. Now it’s already time for Goatsbeard seed heads and the ferns are growing their spores. Must be something to do with getting old – years move faster when you age I think.

Goatsbeard

Goatsbeard

Fern spores

Fern spores

And finally, I was looking at the Honeysuckle on the way back and wondering why it seems so late flowering. This was one of the very few which is even attempting to open. The rest of the buds are either still closed or some seem to have shrivelled and died before even opening. Strange.

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle

And now I must stop rambling on and go to bed. I’m tired out. Is it only Monday!?!

Ending of June

The weather has turned in the last couple of days to heavy showers, but it has been lovely and sunny. In between taking my daughter to a riding competition (last weekend) and the bee incident, I did manage a few photos here and there.

I have been enjoying our ‘meadow’ of lovely long grass in the back garden. Lots of insects seem to be enjoying it too.

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Sunny long grass

Today, in between the showers I popped out for a moment and noticed this little bee who seems to have moved into a hole in our shed. Yay :)

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Solitary bee in a small hole in our shed

The Buddleia won’t be long now – so close to flowering! So looking forward to all the butterflies gathering when it does :)

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Buddleia very nearly flowering

There are a lot of Ragwort plants which are also getting close to flowering. Last year these were particularly popular with hoverflies and the Small Copper butterflies. Another one to look forward to.

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Ragwort will be flowering soon

We were looking at the pond and commenting that we hadn’t seen the frogs for a while … I then stood up to pull some grass out of the pond and my foot disturbed … guess what?! Yup, a little yellowish frog went sploshing into the pond out of the way of my foot. He then popped back up to say hello. He’s pretty small. We thought he was a baby, but then an even smaller one popped up next to him! Really makes us happy to see our pond in use :)

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Little froggy in our pond

There are all different stages of Ladybird life around the garden at the moment …

Here’s a larva (this is what hatches from the Ladybird eggs):

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Ladybird larva

Then after stuffing itself with food, the larva settles down and turns into a pupa:

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Ladybird pupa

And then of course it becomes an adult ladybird, and sets off chomping its way through lots of greenfly :)

Adult Ladybird (and dinner!)

Adult Ladybird (and dinner!)

Finally, we are glad that we’ve let some of the brambles stay, as they are now producing the start of a nice crop of blackberries :)

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A big crop of blackberries to come

Wild Visitors

After a long week of work and all kinds of stresses and strains, it made me very happy to have a brief wander in the wild garden between showers this evening. I found a couple of lovely wild visitors out there.

Firstly this little Soldier Beetle was busy flying about and allowed me to get a few shots while he rested on various bits of grass. I’m not sure what he was doing, but I was just glad to get some nice shots :)

Then there was this lovely Ringlet butterfly fluttering around. I crept up on it to try and get some nice close-ups.

It’s good to get to the end of another week. This has been a very odd week what with the bees, and lack of sleep, and I’m only just getting back to normal after all of that! Hoping for a nice relaxing weekend :)

Lonely Bee

A swarm of Honey Bees decided to come and visit us last night. Today they decided to leave. We were quite relieved, to say the least. There were a few stragglers who have got left behind. This one may be the last – we have to be careful where we walk as there may be a dozey bee on the floor – I have been stung on the foot once already – don’t want any more! We took this one outside but he doesn’t seem to know what to do with himself without the rest of his colony :( More about the bee swarm – http://bluegirlwriting.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/the-bees/

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Soft Cornflower

I had an idea to take some soft focus photos of my cornflowers today. I’m not entirely sure whether these are good or bad. I do love the blue. Can soft focus go too soft? These are my favourites…

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Gardening

As I came into the house today I was reminded that I should do an update on the wildflowers and other things in the garden. Last time I put in a picture of my growing plants they were rather small – Wildflowers Update. Now they are tall and many are about to burst into flower! I’ve just realised I’ve chopped off the black mustard flower in this picture!

Plant growing area

Plant growing area

Most of the flowers are cornflowers – the ones that are flowering already are the ones that lived for a while on the windowsill in the kitchen – they seemed to move faster towards flowering but suffered from floppy stalks which are now being held up with help. I think I may have chucked in a packet or two of cornflower seeds with the wildflowers.

The cornflowers so far are blue, pink and purple:

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More traditional blue cornflower

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Pretty pink cornflower

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Slightly tatty purple cornflower

The blue one, being blue, is my favourite so I took another photo of it :)

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Blue cornflower from above

Other things you may have noticed from the first picture is the addition of some Basil that was previously growing in the kitchen, a trough of new seedlings and a pot containing a rather sickly Lavender. The Basil got a bit big and didn’t seem so happy indoors anymore so it came out here. We haven’t really used it in cooking – just enjoyed its smell. The seedlings are another packet of wildflowers that I forgot when I did the original planting, and Bruce has put them in a trough. The Lavender was in the middle of the garden by the Willow – I put it there last year and it was fine, but this year it seems to be have been overwhelmed so I dug it up and put it in the pot to see if I can rescue it.

New wildflower seedlings

New wildflower seedlings

Rather sickly Lavender ... is there any hope?

Rather sickly Lavender … is there any hope?

And finally a quick look at the big Hebe to find it’s started to flower! Yay :)

Hebe flowering

Hebe flowering

Hebe flowering

Hebe flowering

When is a Wasp not a Wasp?

A bit of a discussion ensued the other day when I was looking at my photos and was about to label a Common Wasp, when it turned out that it might not be a Common Wasp but a Tree Wasp. Often with wasps, the tendency is to run away and not spend time thinking about the particular type. If you look closely though, there are differences … though figuring out what the differences mean is easier said than done!

This might or might not be a Common Wasp … it has some spots between the stripes, but does that mean it’s a Common Wasp?

Common Wasp

Common Wasp? (Vespula Vulgaris)

This one is spot free, with just stripes, so it might be a Tree Wasp … or maybe not …

Tree Wasp

Tree Wasp? (Dolichovespula sylvestris)

And then there are other insects who look like wasps but aren’t wasps at all, like this sneaky hoverfly who nearly had us fooled:

Hoverfly mimicing a Wasp (Chrysotoxum cautum)

Hoverfly mimicing a Wasp (Chrysotoxum cautum)

Also, as you can probably see, these wasps like to munch on wood. They love our garden chairs & table, the shed, the old gate … etc. You have to be careful when you sit on a chair in the garden in case you sit on a wasp. I don’t think they’d be very impressed to be sat on!

Thirsty

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This little shiny fly was investigating a droplet of water, still there despite the hot sunny day. Was he thirsty, I wonder? As my throat is sore, the droplet looks rather appealing to me too.

Weekend Pottering

The weather is beautiful at the moment, staying mostly sunny and warm. It is hazy and cloudy at times but mostly dry and very nice. One might almost say it is too hot at times (but that is just because I am a pale feeble person who doesn’t deal well with heat!). It has been nice for photography so I’ve gathered a few pictures for you from the last few days.

The wildflowers needed watering and while there were still droplets on them, I got this shot of one of the newly emerged Cornflowers:

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Slightly damp Cornflower

We have let nature take its course in some (many) areas of the garden and there are a lot of Herb Robert flowers everywhere. I was trying to get a nice shot focused on a flower with the background all blurred.

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The garden is a-glow with Herb Roberts

The Buddleia is working its way towards flowering which is exciting! When it does come into flower, there will be loads of butterflies all around :)

Buddleia flowers on their way

Buddleia flowers on their way

Also in the garden the small Hebe is flowering. I haven’t seen a huge amount of insects around it, but when the bigger one flowers, usually there are loads of bees, so I look forward to that. It’s getting ready to flower quite soon I think.

Small Hebe flowers

Small Hebe flowers

Big Hebe getting ready to flower

Big Hebe getting ready to flower

Leaving the garden for a stroll I noticed this new little plant which I have just spent ages trying to identify! I finally figured out that it’s called Eye Bright.

Eye Bright (Euphrasia officinalis)

Eye Bright (Euphrasia officinalis)

Looking in the hedgerows, I noticed that the fruits of autumn are already on their way. There were sloes developing on the Blackthorn, and haws developing on the Hawthorn, and it looks like there will be plenty of food come autumn.

Blackthorn sloes

Blackthorn sloes

Hawthorn haws

Hawthorn haws

The Dog Roses are looking lovely now – loads of flowers are out brightening the hedgerow beautifully.

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

A collection of Dog Roses

A collection of Dog Roses

There are also many bramble flowers about, which is pleasing the insects.

Bramble flower

Bramble flower

The fruit on the Redcurrant bush (that I thought was Hawthorn!) is getting fatter but it’s still green. The apples near the village pond are getting fat too.

One fat redcurrant which isn't red (yet)

One fat redcurrant which isn’t red (yet)

Apples geting bigger - but not really much of a mouthful yet

Apples geting bigger – but not really much of a mouthful yet

The Dock plants are now all busily in flower, and if you look closely you’ll find Dock Leaf Beetle larvae wandering about on them. I haven’t got a decent shot, sadly, so just a picture of the flowers/seeds instead.

Dock flowers/seeds

Dock flowers/seeds

I saw this flower growing, but don’t know what it will be. Any ideas? It’s hard to identify a plant before it flowers!

Unidentified plant

Unidentified plant

At the village pond I managed to spot a Grasshopper. There don’t seem to be many about yet, but I think as time goes on we’ll hear their chirruping all around again. This is not the best shot but the only one I got before he hopped away!

Grasshopper staying still briefly

Grasshopper staying still briefly

Back in the garden there are some new things flowering – the Alchemilla with it’s funny green flowers, and also a Willowherb. At first I though it was a Rose Bay Willowherb, but it’s not. I do think it is some kind of Willowherb though.

Alchemilla flowers

Alchemilla flowers

Willowherb

Willowherb

Hidden away in one Buddleia are loads of snails. Not sure what they like about it, but if you peek in there are lots in all different nooks and crannies. The other Buddleia seems to be home to many Shield Bugs, who are mating still!

Hidden snail

Hidden snail

Shield bugs, still mating

Shield bugs, still mating

Also in the Buddleia I noticed a caterpillar high up above my head. Not sure what type it is, but I’m thinking Butterfly not Moth.

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Some kind of Butterfly caterpillar I think

And finally, how about another photo of our frog (or one of them anyway!). This one popped out and then pulled itself up on the side, showing its tiny little fingers.

Mr (or Ms) Frog, relaxing on the edge of our pond

Mr (or Ms) Frog, relaxing on the edge of our pond

Froggy Return

Our frog disappeared for a while and we thought maybe he’d hopped it. However, as I was sat by the pond on Sunday, contemplating whether there was anything else we should do to make it really appealing to wildlife, I looked up to see a frog looking back at me from the pond!

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Froggy returns, floating in the pond, contemplating the futility of existence

And guess what?! He brought a small friend! This little teeny frog, barely bigger than a leaf, must be one of this year’s youngsters gracing our pond with a visit.

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Very small frog, too young to have become as jaded as the other, is merely contemplating his next meal

Photos are not up to my usual standard, having been taken with my phone, but better than no frog photos at all!