Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer colours

Red Admiral
Red Admiral

Bumblebee on Lavender

Water Mint and Purple Loosestrife


Bee on Marigold

One of those Volucella hoverflies which seem to be in fashion these days



Small Red-eyed Damselflies

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D + EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Sunday, July 27, 2008


More progress on the pond front. It's still amazingly clear, so it's easy to see what's going on under the water, even right at the bottom.

Pondskaters are still eating, mating, fighting and whizzing around

They've been joined by two Backswimmers, Notonecta glauca. These seem to perform a similar role to a spider on land, catching and eating things caught unawares. As well as swimming around just under the water's surface, they also dive after prey. Apparently they have a nasty bite if you handle them...

Loads of Lesser Water Boatmen have appeared sometime during the past few days. Confusingly, another name for the Backswimmer is Water Boatman, though the two species seem quite different.

The real Water Boatmen have a vegetarian diet and seem to spend a lot of time at the bottom of the pond, only coming to the surface for air, which they carry in the form of a bubble stuck to their rear end. They have 'oars' as well but are quite distinctive.

There are lots of beetles in the pond, some quite big, but not Great Diving Beetle size. I'm going to have to get a pond life book to work out what they all are. We've got a school of three Whirligig Beetles, too.

Two pairs of Common Darters were ovipositing (egg-laying) on Saturday, with other unpaired males bickering for control of the pond. No Broad-bodied Chaser this week

Most exciting (I think) was the discovery of a resident Smooth Newt this afternoon, followed rapidly by our first sighting of a Common Frog. It appeared on the side of one of the plant pots before hopping onto dry land and squeezing under the turf at the edge of the pond. I'll have to be careful when I'm walking around.

We've got amphibians!

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D + EF 300mm f/4L IS USM or Canon Powershot A640

Butterflies and moth

With the hot weather this weekend, I haven't been in the mood for much more than lounging around in the garden. It's been great. Butterflies have gathered in numbers on our 10-feet high Buddleia bush:



Large White

Small Tortoiseshell


Meadow Brown

Large Skipper

Peacock and Comma

And then this creature turned up:

Hummingbird Hawkmoth!
I've been growing Valerian in preparation for attracting 'Hummers' but this one found the Buddleia perfectly adequate. It did some funny things: feeding happily one second, then whizzing off at rooftop-height over the wheat field, before appearing back on the flowers again within a few seconds

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D + EF 300mm f/4L IS USM or Canon Powershot A640

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Not sure what these bugs are, but they seem to like thistles

A Common Darter seems to be holding a territory not far from the pond

It managed to see off a [the?] Broad-bodied Chaser

The pond's looking pretty clear now, and the plants are helping it look more mature

Pondskaters now number 12+, and this is perhaps why...

photos taken with Canon Powershot A640

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Waresley Wood

Looking out

After doing the Breeding Bird Survey nearby, I fancied a return visit to Waresley Wood.

This is Brownes' Piece, along the entrance track. I had Marbled Whites in mind but none were on show in the strong breeze.

Inside the wood, Ringlets were numerous

Essex Skippers

hoverfly sp.


photos taken with Canon EOS 30D + EF 300mm f/4L IS USM or Canon Powershot A640

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I've been doing quite well for beetles in the garden over the past few days. This evening, I was lying on the lawn, peering into the depths of the pond and watching the Water Beetles and Pondskaters going about their business.

My arm was going a bit numb so I stood up, and noticed a beetle on the lawn, right next to where I'd been lying. It was a [the?] Lesser Stag Beetle, as seen on Thursday evening. It had been very lucky not to get squashed!

After taking some photos, I moved it to safety in one of the flowerbeds and it rambled off through the undergrowth. These seem to be very docile beetles - it didn't run away or mind having its picture taken.

photos taken with Canon Powershot A640


Gatekeeper, my first of the year (sorry, I'm slow)

Lift-off for a bumblebee

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Emperor ovipositing

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Monday, July 14, 2008


I'm not sure what happened, but these are the remains of a Stock Dove.

There were several piles of feathers, starting near a bush and then moving out into the open as whatever it was worked its way through its meal. Finally, the legs and pelvis and the wings and sternum (click for slightly gruesome photo) of the dove were left in two separate portions, away from the feathers, and picked clean very neatly.

Anyone care to guess what did it? Bird or mammal? The motive is easier to work out...

photos taken with Canon Powershot A640