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 sometimes in the house). It makes me sad to remember the numbers of butterflies I used to see as a child and ladybirds, I've hardly seen any of those this year.

Comma

Peacock 

Red Admiral



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 silentis

Dung Fly

Heather Fly Bibio pomonae

Tachina grossa, the greenbottle fly gives some idea of size.

Fungus gnats, the yellow bellied ones are Scaridae hemerobioides

I think this is a Sawfly, Tenthredo sp.

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 vegetation

Flower bugs Grypocoris stysi feeding on hogweed

Capsus ater found feeding low down on grass stem

Liophloeus tessulatus found feeding on nettle stem

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 Reservoir

Fantastic views - Cross o Greets

Fields are filling up with lambs

The day ended with a lovely sunset

I bet the honey tasted good after hibernating all winter

and 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.












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.







Elizabeth Mills 2016-11-02 21:12:00

Up to now Autumns making quite a spectacle of itself, the trees glow beautifully in the late afternoon sun and slime moulds and fungi are making surprise appearances in the fields. The oaks seem to have produced a really good crop of acorns this year, the fieldfares and redwings are back and every evening the starlings fly over us on their way to roost.

Slime mould ?

Fungi in field

Autumn leaves

Spangle galls

Murmuration  on the way home

Autumnal butterflies

There is a definite nip in the air first thing in the morning and last thing at night but midday is as hot as any summer day we've had and the butterflies and bees are making the most of late flowering blooms to prepare for hibernation. My garden might be looking a bit past its best but theres still lots of lovely colour to make the most of and gladden the heart.






Flies

The garden is full of flies, hoverflies and bees, they are especially fond of the marjoram and thyme and we noticed this fantastic fly looking more like a bumblebee. We think its Tachina grossa apparently it takes caterpillars for its young to feed on. Lovely.


Update - I now have a pet fly! Like bees it love s sugar water.



Elizabeth Mills 2016-07-21 21:34:00

We recycled old tractor tyres to make into flower beds and the wildflowers have really romped away. The little pond we made from an old water cistern has two resident frogs and a visiting toad who like to sit in the cool shade near it.

Cornfield wildflower mix in tractor tyre filled with molehills.

Looks so relaxing!

Wildflowers love the gravelly area under the trees.