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.
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
Heather Fly Bibio pomonae
Tachina grossa, the greenbottle fly gives some idea of size.
Fungus gnats, the yellow bellied ones are Scaridae hemerobioides
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.
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
A recent moth trap caught some black Sexton Beetles Nicrophorus humator, we normally get the black and orange ones N vespillo. By lucky coincidence the cat caught a young rat, so we put them together in a tub and watched the result see below. I was trying to get a time lapse sequence but they did most of the burying overnight. However I was lucky enough to be watching/videoing when there was some activity and then one beetle abandoned the rat. It quite obviously wanted to escape the container so I let it leave. This was a surprise as the information I have found says both parents tend the larvae, unless the one I filmed was a rival that had turned up? It can be seen towards the end of the video that at least one beetle was still under the rat. These like all the others we have caught had phoretic mites. Several different fly species visited the corpse one showing particular interest was a bright blue/green metallic fly.
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.
Interesting chat yesterday with Jayne Elizabeth Ashe the assistant development officer on the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership project and a few others about how to kick start some wildlife recording in Spring Wood Whalley and possibly having a bioblitz or other wildlife events there. One thing that did come out was the realisation that probably a lot of recording is already being done, informally by regular and other visitors but none of this is being shared. So if you or anyone you know has been recording or photographing the wildlife in Spring Wood let us know or email Jayne firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently came across a colony of I presume Andrena cineraria – ashy mining-bee just outside of Slaidburn.
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.
It has been a hectic few weeks, at this time of year there is just so much going on I find it difficult to keep up this is the time of first, first Bumble Bee first Hoverflys, you get the picture. The most enjoyable thing for me is the return of sound to the garden, the fantastic symphony of bird song in the early morning and evening but more important to me is the hum and buzz of insects.
This time of the year is always a rush in the garden as this is the time for transplanting self sown wildflower seedlings and small plants from the borders into the meadow areas. It is a rush because you have to wait for them to grow enough to be able to identify them but, then get them in the meadow whist the grass is short and the ground still damp. Reviewing the seed sowing I did in early March. I have had good germination with Ladies bedstraw Galium verum , Hemp agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum, Wild carrot Daucus carota and marginal success with Crosswort Cruciata laevipes , Field Scabious Knautia arvensis.
Over the last few weeks have had more Siskins, Red poles and Gold finches than I remember from previous years additionally we have a pair of Pied wagtails and the Gray wagtails are still with us, Long tailed tits still coming to the feeders and we have seen one pair of Bullfinches. In addition to the beeflys, now Bumble bees and Carder bees, hoverflys and queen wasps have reappeared along with various other flys and so far we have had Comma, Peacock and Orange tip butterflies. Wildflowers strongly flowering include Primrose and Cowslip. Bluebells are just starting and the Blackthorn has been out about a week.
Out and about the search for spawning Toads still fruitless but a friend of a friend has reported spawn in Osbaldeston.
Two important first in the garden, first butterfly a Comma so not the one I was expecting, which confused my poor brain no end. Also first Bee fly which I have to admit I find more exciting presumably Dark-edged Bee-fly, Bombylius major. Both of them on Primula denticulata one of the best early flowers you can grow in your garden.
A trip to Stocks Reservoir resulted in a small number of Toads in amplexus and a larger number of males waiting, no spawn seen though the water was very cloudy from a pea soup green algae bloom. Garden also filling with soft toys! which the cat is starting to catch. Blue and Great tits are checking out the nest boxes but but don’t think we have any takers yet.