(Almost) all of the blossoms-proper have now disappeared and have been replaced by the blooms of early summer. The hedgerows are full of Queen Anne’s lace, the beginnings of hogweed, buttercups, stitchwort, elderflower and the very, very last of the May blossom. Roses, like the pink rugosa and the white rose (Rosa corymbifera?) are just coming into bloom and are flooding the hedgerows with the most wonderful scents. Ferns and bracken are unfurling themselves while bees dance from flower to flower – what a selection they have! The air is just alive with… well, life. I do love June very, very much indeed.
Tuesday 23 June 2015
Thursday 18 June 2015
Sunday 14 June 2015
Whilst going around the garden and doing a little inspection, which is the height of my gardening abilities these days, I came across this little fella on our Prunus incisa ‘Kojo No-Mai’ tree. After much time spent searching for him online, it turns out that he is a mottled umber moth caterpillar (Erannis defoliaria – the ‘defoliaria’ is a wee bit alarming!) and is, like quite a few moth caterpillars, much brighter and more splendid than the moth he’ll become! I think he really suits the tree he’s sitting on, though, as he matches colours perfectly with it. One interesting fact about this moth is that whilst the males have wings, the females don’t! I had no idea that wingless moths even existed, but apparently they do. I’m sure there’s a gender-biased evolutionary thing going on there (hmm…!). It really is true that you learn something every day!
Thursday 11 June 2015
Is there a more beautiful sight to behold than this? I mean, it’s not grand or austentatious; it doesn’t inspire awe to most as, say, a vast snow-tipped mountain range might. But to me, this little world that barely breaches ankle-height is no less awe-inspiring. It is the sight of June, these lush meadows full of green and growth and I realised it had been far too long since I last saw meadows like these.
This beauty is a pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) and was the reason for our evening walk. I love our wild orchids and try to make it out to see them whenever they’re in season. Having seen a few on the roadside verges as I whizzed past in the car, I knew it was the right time to seek them out. Upon first scanning the meadow, I couldn’t see them, until I trained my eyes towards the deep pink-purple splodges of colour that could be nothing else. After seeing one, I saw a whole meadow full.
When I say that this meadow was alive, I don’t just mean the flowers. Bees, beetles (can you see the cardinal beetle on the clover?), spiders and all sorts of winged insects were busily going from a to b as we watched.
Clover love. Our former neighbours used to cast aspersions at our lawn for having clover in it. There would be the odd pointed comment about how nice lawns looked if they have only grass in them… At which point I’d say how terribly fond I was of the pink and white clover that not only fed the lawn but helped to feed the bees that would hum busily around them.
This is a grass spider whose latin name, Tibellus oblongus, speaks of its long, oblong-shaped body. At first, I thought it was a grasshopper moving through the grass, as it was so big (large house spider sized), but lo and behold, once we got up close to it, we realised that it was a spider and that she was carrying a huge ball of her eggs around with her. Whilst I’m not a fan of spiders in the house (money spiders and zebra spiders excepted), I am quite happy to see them in their natural habitat.
Who says that pine trees are just green and brown?! I think I can deal with all of the pollen dust on the car for a few weeks of tropical-coloured pine trees.
Tuesday 9 June 2015
It was perhaps the mistral winds on Saturday that kept the crowds away, but when we arrived at one of our favourite woodlands, it was all but empty. This made for a peaceful, if windy, walk and a nice chance to get out of the house for a decent amount of time. Whilst I am struggling to get to grips with the notion that it is already a quarter of the way through June (I’m sure it was April last time I checked?!), the birds are deep into the swing of chick-rearing and feeding and it’s taking its toll on the parents, who are beginning to look a little weary and hen-pecked as they juggle moulting and rearing simultaneously. Judging by how many fevered dashes backwards and forwards to the feeders were made in the time we were watching, there must be a good many plump chicks to feed. Each bird approaches feeding their little ones differently; some favouring peanuts to sunflower seeds, others (the great tits) bullying their smaller cousins (coal tits) off the feeders; some are content with just plodding around (pheasants) where others skittishly analyse each feeder for its contents (jackdaws). Did you know that jackdaws mate for life? They’re rapidly becoming one of my favourite birds as I watch them each morning from our kitchen window and see them on the roofs of neighbouring houses. Thankfully they don’t seem to like our chimney as much as they do some of the other houses, so our chimney sweep shouldn’t have too much of a job when he next comes to sweep ours!
As for the woodland itself, it seems only a month ago that it was thick with frost and ice, but no, it was 4 months ago, which goes to show that time stands still for no man (or woman!). The vast, empty, leaft-littered spaces have been replaced by lush greenery, bracken, nettles, wild strawberries and grasses. It really is the start of summer.
Saturday 6 June 2015
Each time we visit fulmar beach (as we’ve come to know it), it seems the fulmars have changed ledges and abandoned nests, only to occupy new positions. Unfortunately, the fulmars who were moving their egg, had either dropped the egg (unlikely) or had it predated by a larger gull species (much more likely), as the broken egg shell lay on the shore beneath the nest. It was pretty heartbreaking to see, but I suppose it is difficult to raise chicks in a cushy nest, let alone on a narrow, windy ledge facing the sea. Such are the trials and tribulations of nest-building and chick-raising. On the upside, there are still another few couples nesting, or attempting to, on that cliff. Surely one will manage to make it through?! I do hope so. I love going to see how they’re doing and watching them swoop over my head as their partner comes back with a gullet-full of fish.
Tuesday 26 May 2015
Wheeling, diving, plunging and shaking – all on the wing. It is so nice to hear their sharp little barking calls to each other. I am always awed at how far these little birds travel each year from their wintering grounds in Africa, just to breed on our shores.