Saturday, 28 May 2011

Another May Mixture... in Memory of Linda

With great sadness, this post is dedicated to the memory of a dear blogging friend, Linda/Rain Gardener of Gardening by Trial and Error. I and many others whose lives she touched will miss her very much...

'Such love of life cannot so quickly fade
Or vanish like a vapor in the wind.
For it was of a lasting pleasure made.'
(Nicholas Gordon)


Linda was always struck by how very different our Robin is compared with the American Robin. She thought ours was 'adorable'.


'There's a friendly tone in thy minstrelsy,
And a merry heart beats 'neath thy crimson vest;

There's a pleasant light in thy glistening eye.
And of all our songsters we love thee best'
(E. and A.M. Forrester)


Well, what a strange Spring we have had this year! The ground here has been as dry as it would be in the middle of a very hot Summer. The last week or two although relentlessly dry hasn't been particularly pleasant with high winds and barely any sunshine making photography difficult. I intended to post this sequence of photos earlier in the Spring but didn't quite get around to it so as things are fairly quiet bird wise at the moment I thought I would put them on now.

Shall we dance?

Yes, let's

Shall we be serious and do the weed dance?

Oh no, it's much too soon for that!


Tomorrow... maybe?

As I have said in the past, I am fascinated by the way in which Nature uses camouflage and this following photo is a definite case in point!

Orange Tip Butterfly

Despite the very dry weather I have seen some lovely wild flowers on recent walks.

Clockwise from top left:
Red Campions, Dog Rose, Silverweed,
Ox-eye Daisies, Ox-eye Daisy.

As I mentioned before, things are pretty quiet on the bird front at the moment but I managed to get a quick photo of this Blue Tit which had just captured a juicy caterpillar to feed to its young. You'll need to look closely to spot the caterpillar!

Blue Tit

'A flutter of wings and a flash of blue,
And there my brave little friend are you!'
(G.F. Bradby)

Every year, until I see it again, I forget just how small the following butterfly is. Of course I should remember, after all the clue is in the name :)

Small Copper Butterfly (above and below)

'The butterflies, by eager hopes undone,
Glad as a child, come out to greet the sun.'
(John Clare)

I always think how very delicate Lacewings are, it amazes me that they manage to survive the elements.

Lacewing (Chrysopa perla)

I think this caterpillar must be a Garden Tiger but I thought they were bigger than this one and it wasn't found anywhere near a garden although I know that is probably irrelevant. Does anyone know if there is anything similar but smaller and more slender?

Caterpillar of the Garden Tiger Moth?

'The caterpillar there without
Has never known a mother's care;
Alone to seek its daily fare,
On grass and leaves it crawls about.'

The following photo is another from earlier in the Spring, taken at Draycote Water but not posted before. There was a bit of an altercation going on!


Finally, I will leave you with this pretty little Common Blue Butterfly which was determined it wasn't going to open its wings for me.

Common Blue Butterfly

Well that's all for now... enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Maytime Mixture

May already! This year is going much too fast for my liking but what a beautiful Spring we have enjoyed this time. The only downside being that the countryside and gardens are getting far too dry. I can't remember the last time it rained here although if the weather forecasters have it right that will be rectified this weekend with showers predicted.

'Welcome, welcome, lovely May!
With breath so sweet and smiles so gay;
With sun, and dew, and gentle showers,
Welcome, welcome, month of flowers!'
(From Juvenile Miscellany)

Just a sample of the beautiful views on my doorstep

This post will contain photos from various walks in my local area and a couple from a little further afield at Draycote Water but I will start with a couple of photos from the garden. As some readers will know, I have always been envious of those of you who have the Great Spotted Woodpecker visiting your garden feeders so I have been thrilled recently to see one in mine. The first time was a very fleeting glimpse as it fed at the peanut feeder at the bottom of the garden. Some weeks later I saw one again, a female, on the Sunflower feeder nearer the house and the next day posed beautifully on the bird bath. Needless to say I didn't manage a photo on the bird bath but I did get a not very good one of it on the Sunflower feeder.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

I photographed this Speckled Wood Butterfly on Forget-me-not flowers on a lovely sunny morning.

Speckled Wood Butterfly

This next butterfly isn't posed in the prettiest of places but the photo clearly shows how exceptionally dry the ground is here. It was taken during a local walk on April 17th and we still haven't had a drop of rain since!

Peacock Butterfly

Something else which wasn't posing in the prettiest of places, such is my luck ;) was this Yellowhammer. Luckily I have found somewhere else to see them without having to return to the scene of the Larsen Trap encounter!


This one was slightly more cooperative.

One of the wild flowers which always reminds me of my childhood is the Lady's Smock also known as Cuckoo Flower and Milkmaids. As a child I used to love hunting for the first ones of the year. In folklore it was said to be sacred to the fairies so was unlucky if brought indoors. For the same reason it was never included in May day garlands.

Lady's Smock

'Dainty as a fairy's frock,
White or mauve, of elfin sewing,
'Tis the meadow-maiden growing-

(Cicely Mary Barker)

It is also one of the food plants of the Orange Tip butterfly

Orange Tip Butterfly

Another favourite wild flower, I have a lot of favourites :) is the Cowslip which seems to me to have done particularly well this year. Actually, thinking about it although I love all wild flowers it is the Spring flowers which are dearest to my heart.


Another butterfly seen on a local walk.

Green-veined White

'But lo! a white and spangled thing
Was sporting there on tiny wing;

In haste from flower to flower it flew,

And sucked from each the honied dew.'
(Louisa Segrave)

All of the following photos were taken at Draycote. This Canada Goose looked like it was feeling the heat

Canada Goose

These Great Crested Grebes were looking resplendent in their breeding plumage

Great Crested Grebe

and Mrs Mallard was proudly showing off her ducklings.


Although it is easy to hear and identify Chiffchaffs I find it is not always so easy to see them but this time I was lucky.


And here, it was happily singing its name over and over.

Finally, it is always nice to see the delightful Yellow Wagtails at Draycote. This one is female

Yellow Wagtail

and I will finish this post as I started it, with the male.

Have a lovely weekend... and enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.