Monday, August 30, 2010

the admiral has landed

after a long journey through space the red admiral has landed at tranquility base (notice strong curvature of horizon on this small rocky planet). And this was only after fighting off several wasps to feed on a fallen apple. This was clearly one of those "don't mess with me" types of butterfly.

and much to our surprise the martins are raising another brood. They won't have much time to fatten up before they return to Africa.

autumn is coming

the berries of guelder rose are a brilliant and eye catching red, which is why only a few are left on the bush

Sunday, August 29, 2010

on a bed of angelica

a 14 spot ladybird (very small, less than 5mm long and therefore not one of the dreaded variations of the harlequin ladybird) foraging in the seed head of angelica, the flowers of which are very popular with a range of flying bugs (see below)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

fruits of the meadow

blackberries (plus flies) rose hips, bird's foot trefoil, knapweed all in a great tangle of signs and semiotics (see link)

very beesy dandelion

in a meadow full of flowers it is puzzling to see so many bees on a solitary dandelion. There must be something very special about dandelion nectar.

Harlequin invaders

all of these harlequin ladybirds were on one large piece of hogweed in the meadow today. They are displacing the native two spot ladybird and were not even mentioned in my 1985 edition of the Illustrated book of Insects

Miss best tortoiseshell 2010

the prettiest tortoisehell on the block

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

summer colours

as the summer draws on more and more of our wild flower seed mix is coming into flower, and with the flowers come a wide range of insects, some too small even for macro photography and I am not buying a microscope for Spot (most useful to find his brain I suspect)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

queen to be

it was a calm warm day, so the workers decided to release the queens and drones on the one flight of their lives. This queen to be hadn't quite mastered the art of using all four wings.

just jump, will you

this year's batch of young swallows getting ready to go

more meadow pleasures 5

the common blues have found each other,

and the red admiral is only included to show the beautiful contrast of colours

more meadow pleasures 4

second generation brimstones have suddenly appeared in large numbers, along with commas (much brighter/richer than earlier in the year).

late for pheasants

we set off a hen pheasant this morning, and much to our surprise we discovered that she had been sitting on a clutch of about a dozen eggs buried deep in the meadow vegetation. It seems very late for a pheasant to be laying eggs as the hunting/shooting season has just started. I hope she returns to her nest before too long. The dogs were very keen on trying them out.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

crab spider

a crab spider (Misumena vatia) not very well disguised on some buddleia, waiting for some unsuspecting bee or butterfly to land. Apparently they can change colour at will, and are usually yellow and live on goldenrod. This one seems to have got it wrong.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

caught in the act

caught in the act, red pawed so to speak, going through the bins. No excuse, no alibis, no reprieve.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

more meadow pleasures 3 - Cornish fruit flies

and a brilliant small tortoiseshell (bottom), a wall brown (middle) nowhere near a wall but unusually still for this restless butterfly, and an odd shaped fly with a dog on its back (top).

10 August 2010

Thanks to my friends at Wild about Britain, this fly has been identified as chaetorellia jaceae, a fruit fly that lives on knapweed and related species and is used in other parts of the world as a form of biological control for these plant species where they have become invasive. As a group these flies have very elabotrate mating rituals, and often these sorts of colours to act as bayesian mimicry to put off their predators.

later on 10 August 2010

or is it Chaetostomella cylindrica ? This is the definitive fly for a dog's blog.

more meadow pleasures 2

he insects included these common blues (male and female) on meadowsweet, and a red admiral on knapweed

more meadow pleasures

the knapweed is out and makes a tangled carpet of purple interspersed with tall bunches of fragrant meadowsweet, red sorrel, and the brilliant yellow of bird's foot trefoil. All of these plants act as host to a wide range of insects and the meadows are full of a vast number of them, butterflies, moths, bees, hover flies, grasshoppers,crickets,all busily fuelling up for the serious business ahead.

fritillary mating

you may wonder why we have posted two blurry pictures but if you look closely you can just pick out two blurry orange blobs. These are male and female silver washed fritillary butterflies caught during their courtship dance. I have read about this, but today I saw it for myself for the first time. The male barrel rolls around the female while she flies along in a relatively straight line. If she is suitably impressed she lands and he releases pheromones from the linear scales on his fore-wings, and if she remains impressed they mate. It was so soul satisfying to see this private little ritual.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

hoverfly wasps

and it is also that time of year again when wasps start causing a nuisance. This little chap is actually a hoverfly mimicking a wasp (otherwise thumb would not be so close)

more simple pleasures ...Stoke Climsland flower show 2010

In a pleasantly reassuring way the yearly cycle of our lives continues. Many hours of hard work and loving attention go into the annual flower show which although much smaller than many years ago is still well supported. Followers of Spot's blog will be pleased to know that several of the pictures from the blog did quite well in the photography classes. The top two photos show people getting their exibits ready (and tasting them it would seem), and the bottom photo shows the lunch ladies who work extremely hard in the village hall to get lunch ready for all the judges and stewards and organisers and dignitaries (of whom there are few).

and (one of ) the prize winners was ...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Royal William Yard

the imposing stone edifice on the other side of the water is the Royal William Yard, and in the background is Plymouth, and the hills of dartmoor.

blue tailed damselfly

common but very striking, this is a male blue tailed damselfly on some hemp agrimony, at Mount Edgecumbe this morning.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

more simple pleasures ... parking

and of course the ubiquitous pleasure of finding a place to park

more simple pleasures ... vulture falconry

the show included a spectacular display of raptors, including a griffon vulture, bald headed eagle, a sea eagle and an eagle owl.

5 August 2010

and by way of a post script for Tara, an even closer close up of that American icon.