Sunday, August 31, 2014

the admiral's tongue

There are dozens of our big late summer butterflies around, gathering on the butterfly bush, up to 6 or 7 at a time on one flower head. And there was one holly blue in the garden today.

harriet on harriet

and instructions for drawing a dog

Thursday, August 21, 2014

a long way to go

The second broods of martins have started leaving their nests. This little chap was found just outside our front door, he/she could flutter but not fly. There was no obvious injury and he would soon come to grief on the ground, so he was put back in one of the nests (the right one I hope) where he is now to be seen perched on the edge chirruping away.

Notice the little feathers on the legs, a characteristic feature of martins.

Post script 23/08/2014

After another two days in the nest this martin appears to have fledged. Having held this scrap of life in my hand for a few brief moments, I can only marvel that it can make it all the way to somewhere in Africa (no one knows quite where, see this link for more information). 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Turning grey and grizzled, waiting for something to happen, Spot is a senior citizen now.

and spot the cow

Friday, August 15, 2014


I thought this might be a snout moth but it may well be a member of the crambinae family and without a common name. As noted before moths are difficult! How about agriphila trisella (see this link to UK moths)? Or on further research a grass moth crambus pascuella.

Lack of activity recently has been caused by stifle injury to Spot's secretary. On the mend to some degree. He might get out.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

gardeners' nightmare

As was predicted last year, there is a developing plague of white butterflies. There are 6 small whites (and a tortoiseshell) on this one small lavender bush. There will be no brassicas left.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Uncle Earnest's remarkably familiar photograph

                                     Sepia, that strange Victorian colour
                                     Fills the August photographs
                                     Of the Great War's early Summer days.
                                     It gives the uniforms an army hue,
                                     A hint of the coming Glories
                                     That would leave so many acrid mouths
                                     And mud enough for everyone.

                                     Those carefully polished buttons
                                     The dainty waxed moustache
                                     A bullet for your troubles...
                                     And a photograph for us.


Like most English families we lost relatives in the First World War. Great Uncle Earnest died, aged 23, in the  battle of Loos in October 1915. He played rugby for Blackheath Rugby Football club along with his several brothers who included my own grandfather (who was wounded in the same battle). What leapt out of this photograph when I first saw it in the 1960's was the strong facial resemblance to living members of the family. The poem is part of a longer poem written, with some artistic licence, in his memory; the photograph is of the man himself, Earnest Lennox Robertson. Today we commemorate the beginning of that dreadful war.  Tonight the lights across Great Britain will be turned out once more.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

the house that Sally built

It was Stoke Climsland Flower Show on Saturday and once again we were blessed with fine weather (it feels like every day this year has been fine). Every one is very creative round here. Especially with potatoes.

Spot the butterfly

We saw two or three clouded yellows today, this is several weeks earlier than last year. Clouded yellows are usually migrants from southern Europe but I wonder if these are indigenous examples which have managed to breed last year and survived during the very mild winter. The meadow was full of large butterflies today, including these three silver washed fritillaries having a dog fight over Spot.