Sunday, 31 July 2011


Actually I suspect not, I think it is a Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea owing to the fact that it has bars rather than spots on the end segments. Must find a Dragonfly identification course...

Monday, 25 July 2011

Butter and Dragon Flies

Sat with my 8 year old daughter looking for butterflies as part of the 'Butterfly Effect' counting programme. (www.butterflyeffects We sat in the sun with the sheet of photographs in the hope that we would see some butterflies. The budlia was as reliable as always and we quickly saw two peacock butterflies and then several others. The tally for our 15 minutes was as follows: 5 x Large Whites, 3 x Small White, 1 x Common Blue, 1 x Gatekeeper, 6 x Peacock and 2 x Red Admirals.

I was very pleased with the number of butterflies, 18 in all and as far as we could be sure, no double counting although its hard to be sure as they fly out of the garden and possibly back in again. Most of the butterflies flit busily from plant to plant although the red admiral was sitting with it's wings closed on the fence. The blue had to be chased to be identified as it was whizzing about the apple tree and I am not convinced we could reliably tell large from small whites so we had to go on size as they didn't seem to land.

Also saw several dragonflies and photographed one basking on the rose bush (*see above) . I am not a dragonfly expert but I think this is an Aeshna mixta, ( As there is a split in the wing triangle at the base of the rear wings) and I think a male because of the abdomen tail formation. Having said that there are differences from the drawing in my book and I don't know how much variation there can be within any one species. I also found a dead dragonfly on the road after my brother's wedding on Saturday at Hackney Town Hall but I am trying not to write about dead things.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Scarlet Tigers

I have found four dead 'scarlet tiger' moths at the same corner as you turn onto the Walton road from the Kings farm, in the gutter by the roadside. Presumably this daylight flying moth gets hits by cars like every other flying thing I chance upon as I cycle to work in the mornings. My son found another specimen in the garden in a flower pot yesterday, downed by the rain?, and this has galvanised me into looking at them all and I can confirm that they seem to be the same species. There are other tiger moths, the wood tiger and garden tiger and smaller red and black moths like the burnet and cinnebar, all of which I have seen now that I have studied the pictures in my books. Clearly it is currently the time for the scarlet tiger and presumably the ones found on the roadside have hatched from the same batch in a nearby bramble hedge. I also note from the books that the tiger moths are the species that hatch from the poisonous little animated hairy caterpillars that you see occasionally and are known as 'woolly bears'. As a child who picked such things up I also discovered that they can give you a significant rash and I recall that I was rewarded with a day off school.

Monday, 11 July 2011


I am getting slightly obsessed with Swifts. They are just so wonderful, one moment screaming along the rooftops, the next high up in the evening air. And being such adept aerialists they are so difficult to film, but that doesn't stop me is untitled but I may call it simply 'Apus'...

Monday, 4 July 2011

Busy as a...wasp

If Dunc's posts are distinctly dead-thing-related mine seem to be relentlessly insect-themed at the moment. Here's an update on the wasp's nest in our garden:

As you can see, the wasps have not only repaired the wind damage from a couple of months ago but also increased its size considerably. It's now the size of a rugby ball, and has incorporated a considerable part of the branch on which it hangs. They continue to layer it up with the wood/saliva paste they make, so that the inner chamber containing the grubs is now presumably very well protected - I would imagine the temperature is reasonably stable as well owing to the air between layers. As well as being a fascinating process, I think it is also strangely beautiful, with its almost alien protuberances and pits. As we go about the garden, they do not bother us, just quietly tending, gathering and building, yoked by undeniable, unspoken purpose.