Monday, 28 June 2010

Garish Beauty - The Mullein Shargacucullia verbasci

I spotted this delightful caterpillar on one of my Buddleia plants.  I always find it suprising that such colourful caterpillars can have such drab parents - take a look here to see the dowdy brown adult: The Mullein  Some creatures just look too exotic for this country and this to me is definitely one of them. 

I am sorry not to have visited anyone's blogs this past couple of weeks but life got in the way of pleasure and I have had little time for photography or the internet.  I hope to be back to normal soon.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Still Visiting!

The Siskins are still gracing me with their presence and what a delight they are to see.    I have seen three males on the feeders at the same time, so I might possibly have more males than this visiting.  I have also seen two females on the feeder together, and two juveniles. 

I have hardly been on the net this week so I have had no chance to read blogs.  Hope you have all had a good week.  Will catch up with you all soon.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Any Idea What This Is?

The Dog Roses are now honouring the hedgerows with their beauty, and what a delight they are to view.   The insects are making the most of their presence, though what this caterpillar is I don't know.  Any suggestions are, as always, very welcome. :-)

Blogger has been playing up and refusing to let me comment, and making it difficult to post, so I am behind with peoples blogs as I lack the patience to struggle!    Hope you are all having this beautiful sunny weather that we are being blessed with.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Nature Can Be So Cruel

They are all dead, every last one of them.  It seems such a waste, and it makes me wonder about the futility of life.  I don't know what took them, whether it was birds or mammals, but it is irrelevant what it was: they are no more.  I know that in them dying, another life will have the opportunity to live on, and that is the way of nature, but I am still deeply saddened that their stay on this earth was so short.  They will live on in a few photos, photos that weren't even good, and they will live on in my memory, those little whirling dervishes.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

She's Brought The Babes!

Once again I have been honoured by a wild Mallard bringing her tiny  ducklings to my pond.  I spotted them late this afternoon.  It is a sort of double edged sword having them here: they are so beautiful, but all of these birds are eating me out of house and home.  I ended up with around twenty-five Mallards visiting daily over the winter, after a Mallard successfully raised ten ducklings at my pond  last summer, and that group then joined up with another group.  I am slightly panicky as around half of those twenty-five were females: I hope they don't all think of a free meal for their babes and bring their ducklings here! I suspect that one other female will definitely bring them as she has been here almost continuously until around a week ago - she is probably now sitting on eggs.  Oh well, if I didn't spend the money on food for animals I suppose I would only waste it on that Canon 400mm DO lens that I so desperately want to get my hands on! :-) I am certainly looking forward to getting some decent photographs of the little blighters, that is if they will stay still long enough.  This evening they were racing around on the pond like clockwork toys, and from dozens of shots only a few were not completely blurred.

For those who didn't know me last year, you might like to read how the ducklings came to be here last summer.  This is the blog post I did then:

"I first heard it in the morning, in the distance, a distressed call, as though danger was close by.  The fields surrounding our land are laid down to barley, interspersed with pockets of impenetrable shrub land that would give good cover to a fox roaming in the light of day. I thought perhaps this might be the cause of the alarm, with the duck warning others of his close proximity, but as the hours passed by the call could still be heard, only it was getting closer and closer to my land.  If it was a duck in distress I knew that I would stand little chance of catching it unless it was completely immobile, and as the calls were coming closer and closer, this obviously wasn’t the case.  After lunch I headed off for a walk with the dogs, still wondering what was causing the commotion.

After a slow saunter I returned and got on with the afternoons round of work.  Suddenly I heard a commotion outside coming from the direction of the ducks area.  I dashed frantically outside to see what on earth was happening.  I could see all of my ducks sitting there peaceably and yet still there was the frantic quacking of a duck.  I raced round to the other side of the barn, and there, trying to get through the gate with eleven little ducklings, was a wild Mallard.  It just hadn’t occurred to me that it might be a duck moving her young, as it is quite late in the season and the weather has been so horrendous: not conducive to bringing forth new life into the world.  

If you follow my photostream on flickr you will have seen a recent photo of a duck that visits my pond every day, helping herself to the food that is always out there for the ducks and hens.  This duck, along with a couple of males, has been visiting almost daily for years, at least I think it is the same duck, as she shows little fear of me, and merely walks out of my way when I go out to replenish the food.  Of late she has only been visiting briefly a couple of times a day, so I really should have realized what was happening.  Her frantic calls must have been to encourage her ducklings to follow her on that mammoth journey, or at least a mammoth journey for such tiny new born creatures.   I opened the gate and the little family trotted off pond-wards.   At last there was silence and contentment.

For the rest of the day the mother and ducklings busied themselves at the pond and showed no signs of moving off to safer quarters.  As the evening progressed I started to worry about their welfare, as they would be totally vulnerable if they stayed in the same place overnight.   I don’t believe in interfering with nature, and I know that ducks have such large families due to the great rate of predation on the young, so I just had to hope for the best for them, and wish them well.  As night fell I visualized a protective sheet of gossamer falling over them, and I asked the Gods to see them safely through till morning.  

As dawn broke I awoke and immediately thought of them.  Would they have made it through the night?  Would they even still be there?  I needn’t have worried: there by the pond was mum and babes, happy and content, having survived to face another day at Natures mercy." 

Friday, 11 June 2010

A Rare Female Visitor

A female Siskin has now joined the two males that are visiting my feeders, and hopefully soon I might have some youngsters.  Other than the young sparrows, so far there have only been adult birds visiting the feeders, but I expect a rush of youngsters any day soon - she says with fingers crossed.  The forecast until Monday is for mainly sunshine, with gusting winds up to 30 miles an hour, so photographing them might be difficult.  Adult birds of all species are coming in increased numbers now, eating me out of house and home, as usually happens at this time of year: a mad rush of a few weeks and then as the youngsters disperse it quietens off again and my purse gives a sigh of relief! :-) This morning my poultry area looks like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Birds: the skies are black with Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws.  Pigeons and Doves are also appearing en masse.

Many thanks for your visits and comments.  I hope the sun shines on you over the next few days.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

I Won't Be Popular!

Oh no!  I have nearly run out of sunflower seeds and my supplier won't have any in until Monday!  I will not be popular with my ever hungry Goldfinches!   I was told that they really prefer niger seeds, but having purchased two feeders, and a twenty-five kilo sack of them, I discovered that actually they will only eat them if the queue to the sunflower seeds is too long: another case of wildlife not reading the right books! :-)

The Goldfinches first started visiting me around two years ago, after having ignored my feeders for many years.  Since then they have taken over, with a flock of around thirty always present.  They are delightful to look at with their stunning plumage, but they are argumentative little devils who frighten off the more timid Blue Tits. 

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Deeply Saddened

For some reason my Swallows have disappeared for the second year running.  They set about preparing an old nest, one that hadn't been used for at least ten years, lining it with fresh mud and then bedding, but for some reason have now abandoned it.

There don't seem to be many swallows around this year.  I remember a time when the skies were alive with their presence, but now I see very few.  It is deathly without their comings and goings, and I really miss the joy that they brought to the skies. 

At least the Sparrows that breed in my barn seem to be doing well.  This is a photo of a youngster that is making use of my feeders, along with several other youngsters. 

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A Few Butterflies And Caterpillars

No idea what this is - any suggestions gratefully received. - ID Oak Eggar - many thanks to Dean. :-)

A beautiful Orange-tip on a Cuckoo Flower.

A Common Blue - I think! I always welcome corrections if I have identified anything incorrectly. :-)

A Wall Brown.  I do think the underneath is a lot prettier than the top of the wings with this butterfly.

An open view of an Orange-tip: such a beautiful butterfly.

No idea what these were. They were in the top of a Willow.  Anyone any ideas? ID Buff-tips - many thanks again to Dean. :-)

It is still chucking it down. :-(  One good thing about rain is that I get the chance to catch up on editing images and reading blogs. :-)  Many thanks for your visits and comments. :-)

Monday, 7 June 2010

Rare Visitor

These delightful little Siskins first started visiting my feeders last year.  I had two adults and a youngster for a short period of time over the summer months. They then disappeared, with no sight nor sound of them being seen until this past week, when once again they are coming to the feeders.  All I need now is for the wind to drop so that I can get a decent shot of them on a branch - there isn't a cat in hells chance of me doing it at the moment, as the branches are being whipped around by twenty mile an hour winds.

If this year follows the pattern of the last three, then summer has been and gone for another year: we are now back to cool, wet and windy, with the long term forecast saying that it is here for at least the next three weeks.  I hope your weather is better than mine and that the sun is shining on you.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

It's Not Fair!! I missed them! I missed them!

I have new neighbours who are bird orientated, which makes a very pleasant change in an area where most people view birds with complete indifference or with malice.  Chatting to them yesterday I was asked if I had seen the Red Kites.  In shock I said no and asked where and when they had been seen.  "Last Friday." came the reply "They were over your house and fields for about half an hour. There were two of them."  I was stunned!  Not only had I missed them, but they had actually been seen above my house, not just in the area, and I missed them!  I have scanned the skies year after year in the hope of seeing Red Kites and when my eyes were averted the little B's come and visit!  

Do you know the poem:

"We have fallen in the dreams the ever-living
Breathe on the tarnished mirror of the world,
And then smooth out with ivory hands and sigh."

I often think of this poem, but instead of imagining the God's sighing, I think of them having an extremely good laugh at my expense: my neighbours seeing them, and telling me, is like the God's rubbing salt in the wound!

Oh well, hopefully they will come again and this time I will be looking in the right direction.  

As I can't show a photo of a Red Kite I will show a moth instead.  I think that this is a Silver-ground Carpet moth - id from a photo on Dean's blog - please correct me if I am wrong. 

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Morning Has Broken....................

I actually took this photograph of an evening while sitting with the poultry, but on seeing it on the computer screen I was immediately taken back to childhood assemblies.  The school had a large easel, situated in the corner of the hall, that housed the song sheets for our morning hymns.  I used to love those sing-alongs, even though I was tone deaf and couldn't sing a correct note if I tried.  One of my favourite hymns, then and now, was Morning Has Broken.  It used to take me in my imagination out into the fields and woods where I longed to be, instead of having to spend a day in a stuffy classroom.  When I look back at all of those beautiful woods and fields of childhood, it saddens me deeply to think that many of them are now under roads, houses, factories or shops.

I spent today making the most of the beautiful sunny weather so I am once again behind with viewing blogs.  Many thanks for your visits and comments - I will catch up with you all soon.  Hope you are enjoying the same beautiful weather and will join me in song - probably more tunefully than me!

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

I'm Useful!

Of an evening I sit out with the poultry until it is time for bed, as I want them to enjoy as much daylight as possible, but don't want to leave them vulnerable to predators.  As I sit quietly wild birds come and make use of the poultry's food supply.  Meet a few of them:

Male House Sparrow

Female House Sparrow

This male and female mallard are regular visitors that have become very indifferent to mine and the dogs presence: they sense that we are no threat.  Perhaps this year the female might once again bring her ducklings and rear them at my pond. 

Snooze time.

While the female keeps an eye out for trouble.

A feral pigeon.  I get as many as 40 of these at times during the year.  At the moment only one is visiting.

This Rook was determined to have some seed, though he was very wary of my presence, and who can blame him as they are so horribly persecuted in this area.  I have picked many up over the years that have been left with terrible injuries from being shot at.

I get around 40 Collared Doves visiting during the winter but now I am down to around four.

And I shall sneak in one of my own handsome boys: a Rosecomb Bantam cross.

Many thanks for your visits and comments.  I am still catching up with everyone's great blogs.

About Me

My photo
I live in North Wales and spend my time caring for animals, walking in the countryside, photographing nature and reading. I hope to share, in photographs and words, some of the beauty that I see. If you enjoy the photographs on this blog then you might like to take a look at my Flickr photostream. View my complete profile for links to both of my blogs.