Monday, July 28, 2014

giant wood wasp

Every now and again one comes across something genuinely strange. This is a giant wood wasp (urocerus gigas), about 4 cms long. The brown rod beneath her sting is the sheath of her ovipositor, and gives it the common name of horntail. She lays her eggs in sick or recently felled pine. The black rod is the actual ovipositor and she is pushing it into the pine wood. Her abdominal muscles ripple with the effort required. The larvae take up to three years to mature

Sunday, July 27, 2014

as rare as a pig's bladder

another real local rarity is cornish bladderseed, seen here growing in profusion in the meadows.

cafe agrimony

It has been predicted recently that this will be a good year for peacock butterflies. They are attracted to hemp agrimony, a common wild flower locally and there were four on this one small patch to the side of one of the meadows at Greenscoombe. The moth below is a rosy footman (miltochrista miniata), described as 'local' in my reference book ie not that common everywhere. It is a very striking salmon orange colour.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

wire trip

the first of this year's new swallows gathering for a geography lesson on the way to Africa.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

round two

swallows and martins have raised one brood, and now have started again. This is a swallow nest (they tend to nest inside buildings eg barns, rather than on the outside like martins, this nest is in the porch of our near neighbours) and this brood have just hatched. There may be a third brood before they leave. The first brood help with feeding this and subsequent broods.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

ant nursery

There has been a very marked increase in the number of ant hills in the meadows. I accidentally disturbed the very top of this hill. The eggs must have been very close to the surface which seems strange unless the ants are trying to control the temperature because of the recent hot weather. The eggs were quickly taken back under cover by their nursemaids.

butterfly count

It is the start of butterfly count month (see link). The meadows were teeming with the usual mid July suspects, including dozens of small skippers (as above) meadow browns, ringlets and silver washed fritillaries. Very few red admirals and no tortoiseshells or peacocks. Five common blues which is definitely up on the last two years.

morning cocktails

The amazing scorpion fly. I am not quite sure what it is doing, or what it has got its head in, but they have a reputation for drinking fermented fruit juices and getting drunk.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

mother and children

one careful spider mother (probably pisaura mirabilis, the nursery spider) and dozens of babies

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

gathering 2

A wave of meadow brown butterflies is sweeping through the lanes, maybe it is going to be a very good month for butterflies.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

the gathering

the rooks have heard that some people are complaining about the noise they make early in the morning .... they are planning their next move. Hitchcock eat your heart out.