Derwent Inktense Pencils

Don't know why but watercolour pan paints always go mouldy on me. I bought myself some Derwent Inktense Pencils that are water soluble to see if they might be a substitute. I did a quick painting of a Tree Peony Flower today and I am reasonably happy with the result although I found it hard to mix enough colour at a time and with watercolour you need to work quickly so some hard edges have occurred and lifting the colour was starting to damage the paper....

Elizabeth Mills 2018-06-10 11:09:00

This is the time of year when often quite expansive areas of webs appear in some of our hedgerows. They are produced by species of small ermine moths who are seeking safety in numbers and also trying to disguise their prescence from anything that might like to eat them. I also imagine any bird trying to peck at them would get cobwebs stuck all over its plumage and beak.  The webs slowly disintegrate over the summer and usually the hedgerows recover. The adults can be found on the wing  later on and all are white or greyish with many small black dots, hence the ermine name....

Elizabeth Mills 2018-06-10 10:48:00

The dry spell we have been having has suited the climbing and shrub roses in the garden, most were inherited with the garden or bought from the "sick plant" sections at garden centres cheap ( usually just bone dry) so no labels. The peachy poppies papery petals (phew- glad I'm not saying that) look lovely in the sun against the fat pink spikes of the Bistort....

Flies and Bees

Went for a walk around Whitewell. There were lots of black flies on nettles and flying clumsily around with long legs dangling - these were the St Mark's flies. There were also lots of Noon flies sunning themselves on leaves.They mate on cow pats and the female lays one egg in a different cow pat which hatches out quickly and feeds voraciously on any other larvae in the pat. The adults  feed on flower pollen. There were plenty of Green Bottles and depending on the direction the light hit them they could appear almost bright copper in the sunshine.Female St Mark's FlyMale St Mark's FlyCrane Fly mating.Noon Fly Mesembrina meridianaOrange Tailed Mining Bee, Andrena haemorrhoa (?)Soldier FlyGreen BottleSoldier Beetle...
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Tawny Mining Bees

Saturday was really warm and sunny and we had a gentle walk along the riverbank in Newton. Wood anemone , primrose, celandine, marsh marigolds all in flower and lots of Bumble bees, Red Tailed, Buff and Early flying around. Also noticed some really rich red insects flying around and finally managed to photograph one. It was a female Tawny Mining Bee, its dense, rich ginger coloured coat glowing in the sunlight, very glam. The males are usually smaller and not so densley haired and duller but they make up for it with a patch of white hair on their faces, that looks like a moustache.This is one of the species that can be parasitized by beeflies. If you see a small hole in the ground with a little volcano of soil around it , then you may have found a Tawny Mining bee nest....
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Bee-flies and spring

As soon as the "Lollipop Primroses" (Primula Denticulata) start to flower and we get some warm sunny days, I start listening out for a high pitched whine in the garden and looking out for quickly darting and hovering golden furry flies. For me it means spring is definitely underway when the Bee Flies are back in the garden. For a start they apparently don't feel inclined to fly if the temperature is below 17 degrees c. so sunny days are a must for them. All that hovering and zooming about must require a lot of energy. It also means that the solitary bees whose nests and larvae they parasitize have had time to get their breeding cycles underway. The adult beeflies have a really long proboscis that sticks out from their face to reach deep into flowers for nectar. It looks like it could do you an injury if it decided to, but beeflies are total...
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Lost Butterflies

At last we are getting butterflies in the garden, we had Large Whites and Green veined Whites at the start of the summer then the occasional Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper but only the occasional Tortoiseshell. Now that the buddleia and teasels are flowering we are happy to see Red Admirals, Peacocks and Commas coming into the garden. I hope the Commas might be from caterpillars I found on the hops I grew, as I knew they were a plant their caterpillars like to feed on. We grow lots of plants specifically for their nectar, borage and echiums are a real hit with the bees and hoverflies and we don't use any pesticides, we also leave plants to die back naturally and only cut back in the spring so there are lots of places for overwintering insects. We stock firewood in the outbuildings and often find butterflies and moths hibernating in there (and ...
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Stocks Reservoir

Went for a coffee after work at the cafe at Stocks Fly Fishery. It was lovely, warm and sunny but very breezy which made photographing insects quite challenging. My little camera was up for it though and I got some lovely photos and saw my favoutite fly Tachina grossa.I think this is Sericomyia silentisDung FlyHeather Fly Bibio pomonaeTachina grossa, the greenbottle fly gives some idea of size.Fungus gnats, the yellow bellied ones are Scaridae hemerobioidesI think this is a Sawfly, Tenthredo sp....
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Elizabeth Mills 2017-07-26 11:20:00

July is a lovely month in the garden, a colourful, buzzing celebration of life ( I'm like Ned Stark though, even in high summer, I keep thinking "Winter is coming!") I spent ages trying to photograph this cute little bee, it has really fluffy front legs which whenever it settles it hides under its chin, like its embarrassed by its fashion choices. I think its a male Willughby's Leafcutter Bee. I also noticed neat little semi-circles had been nibbled out of the leaves of the climbing rose by the kitchen window, probably by a female Leafcutter Bee, wish I could spot a nest....

Greendale Wood

Had an enjoyable evening "walk"(273m) arranged by Clitheroe Naturalists around Greendale Wood, Grindleton. I think the poor weather forecast put people off as only three of us turned up. The weather threatened all the time with the odd spot of rain and roll of thunder but we managed a good couple of hours searching for plants, insects and birds. We now have a nice initial list of species that hopefully will allow naturalists in 20, 50 or even 100 years time to see how the woodland has changed and developed over time. More importantly for me I got to see some really lovely insects. All identifications are merely my best stab at it, please feel free to say if they are wrong.Forest Shieldbug Pentatoma rufipes (final instar) found feeding on Hazel.Common Froghopper Philaenus spumarius these were abundant on nettles and other vegetationFlower bu...
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Bluebells Spring Wood

On Friday evening we went for a walk around Spring Wood in Whalley, the bluebells were fantastic and the wild garlic is starting to show too.The pond we made from an old header tank with the holes filled in has been a great hit with the frogs, there were four in it this afternoon. We think they are avoiding all the rowdy teenagers (tadpoles) in the main pond. There are lots of jobs to do in the garden now so the only one who gets to sit down and enjoy the warmth is the cat. Its a hard life....

Elizabeth Mills 2017-04-24 16:37:00

While out walking noticed lots of bees buzzing around a sandy bank. I think they are Ashy Mining bees.There was also another different type of bee but it flew into its hole and wouldn't come out again, just kept coming to the entrance to peer at me.There were fights to mate with females going on.Love to know what this is....

A beautiful day in the Forest of Bowland

We went for a walk around Stocks reservoir and then up to Cross o Greets.We could hear lots of male toads croaking for females and some females with males clinging to their backs were heading for the water. I had some dried up honey in the cupboard and put it out for early flying Queen bumblebees and wasps, this one seems to have the same approach as I have with cake - in with the face and begin.Toads are gathering to spawn up at Stocks ReservoirFantastic views - Cross o GreetsFields are filling up with lambsThe day ended with a lovely sunsetI bet the honey tasted good after hibernating all winterand someones creaky old bones probably feel a lot better....

Cat portrait

Decided to have a go at drawing Cat's portrait using Derwent Studio coloured pencils, I just haven't used them for a long time and thought it would make a change from acrylic painting. I graphed Cat out as I was worried I'd lose my place with his markings. I've managed to make him look a lot sterner than he really is, he's a big softie - although the mice in the barn probably think differently....
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Portrait in progress

I've taken some photos as I did Sam the Border Collies portrait. I used Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic paints - Paynes Grey, Titanium White, Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Raw Sienna and Alizarin Crimson Hue Permanent. I thinned the paints with water and Cryla Flow Enhancer. The portrait is painted onto Daler Rowney Studland Mountboard....
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