Friday, 26 February 2021

A Red Sqirrel on my Balcony

We have lived in our home for 55 yrs, but during all that time, I never saw a squirrel on my bedroom balcony, until one morning last week. In winter we are often shrouded in a thick  morning mist, but I go to fill my little bird box feeders no matter what kind of  wet weather we are having, I do this before even having my own breakfast, because I like to look outside the windows in our heavy wrought iron doors, and watch the birds come and go, as I'm having my breakfast in bed, a habit of many years. After breakfast, I hide behind the wooden shutters, and try to take photos of the birds, but that morning I took photos of the squirrel. I let it eat, and refilled the boxes for the birds once it had left.

                  The squirrel arrived here, on the corner of my balcony.
                He stayed motionless for a while, weighing up his next move,            

  This is where I think he saw me, but he wasn't afraid, and carried on undeterred.

          He spotted the feeder here, and  climbed up without any difficulty.

                               He looks cute with his white underside showing.

    This is what he was looking for, but I don't mind, because he must have been hungry, and it's been raining none stop for days. The squirrel has not returned yet, but I expect he will!

                     Here are two captures of a Great Tit, taken on the same morning.

It is the bird I see most often in the garden.There are dozens of them in the thick foliage of the Conifer trees.

Monday, 15 February 2021

Common Red Soldier Beetle and Other Small Insects

I discovered these small conjoined insects in the Pyracantha hedge, and they stayed conjoined for well over an hour. They were no bigger than 1 cm in size.They are not the most handsome of insects, it's true, but the interesting thing about them are what seem to be ear-like projections.

They seem to have wings, but don't look like any  insect I have ever seen, They were in a difficult position to get my camera near, or perhaps photos of a different angle for better identification purposes.

I have tried to identify them in many of my insect books, on Google, and Wikipedia without success. If anyone knows their identity, I would be grateful for your input. The closest I have come to their ID is the "Brown Cicada" but I'm not sure. 

         Another tiny insect, found in the hedge, was this rather pretty blue insect, less than 1 cm in size.    

                             It could be a female Green Leaf-hopper, but it was more blue than green.                                                   If it is a leaf-hopper, they are considered to be a pest.

                                        It was the lovely bluish colour that drew my attention to it.

                It  was definitely aware of my presence. and here it appears to be looking right at me.

        This is the field behind the hedge, it's on our land, and it's the only field we leave to grow wild.                    It's here where I found all the little insects, both in the hedge, and in the field.           

Way out in the middle of the field, I noticed this flower, with a dark patch, but it was only when editing that I saw what was hiding there, and that the dark patch was the spiders home. How ingenious!! It was so well disguised! The crab spider does not spin a web, but waits for it's prey on flowers, and other  vegetation.

                                    There were many different kinds of grasshopper,

This was a tiny speck of white, and at first glance, it appeared to be something a bird had left behind. I have no idea what it is, and it isn't in focus, but I'll keep trying to ID it,...any ideas anyone!!

                                            An interesting little spider with very long hairy legs.

                                                                    No ID here either.

The moment I saw this tiny insect, I knew I was looking at my first sighting of a Plume Moth, from seeing much better images than this one, on other nature blogs. Scientific name is Pterophoridae. The moth is harmless. It feeds on nectar/pollen of various herbaceous plants. The caterpillars feed on bindweed.

                                            A  Crab Spider  with what appears to be a Flesh Fly.

Last week I didn't blog at all, due to severe back pain, it is too painful for me to sit at the computer. This post has been ready to post for some time, so all I have to do is post it, but I can not do any visiting.

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

The Great Tit. Parus Major

    Instead of insects I am sharing a pretty Great Tit for a change. It looks quite chubby.







Tuesday, 26 January 2021

The Ladybird or Ladybug Coccinellidae

Historically and cross-culturally, ladybirds or ladybugs are believed to be a talisman of good luck. Some believe that if a ladybug lands on you, you should count the number of spots to predict how many years of good luck you will have, and many think that the spots indicate the number of months until your greatest wish comes true. As a child, my parents told me that the ladybug was lucky, and as a child I believed them. Whatever you may believe, they do play an important role in the environment, and are "charming" little creatures.

These charming little red and black creatures, are not bugs at all, but beetles, and are harmless to humans. The seven spot is the most common. It has 3 spots on each side of it's body, and 1 behind it's head. Their spots serve as a warning to predators.

Ladybugs can eat as many as 75 aphids per day, and up to 5000 insects in it's lifetime. As you can see in this photo, they can have a veritable feast on this branch. 

They have small black feet and black antennae, and they smell from both antennae and feet.Their wings are hidden behind the hard dome shaped body.

Their spots and bright colour is not the only warning devise the ladybird has.  They emit foul-smelling blood from their leg joints, and when they are startled, the yellow liquid is ejected out, and is toxic to it's predators.

Like the lacewing, and many other insects, they are the farmers and gardeners friend, for their preferred diet is plant damaging insects, and they also love pollen, and pollinate as the fly from flower to flower.

Last year I saw many 7 spot ladybirds, but there are about 5,000 different species of ladybugs in the world, and many are known by the number of their spots.

Children love ladybugs, and there is a popular children's nursery rhyme, written in the 17th century called "Ladybird Ladybird", No-one really knows who wrote it,but it goes like this.

                            Ladybird, ladybird fly away home, 
                            Your house is on fire, and your children are gone, 
                            All except one, and her name is Ann, 
                            And she is hiding under the warming pan.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Lacewings Neuroptera

As the weeks went by and I had finished the therapy on my wrists, my thoughts turned to buying a Sony camera. I didn't want a new expensive camera, but one exactly like the one that broke, so hubby and I searched on e-bay and after many weeks of trying without success, two came up at the same time. I chose the one advertised as "Like New," and after three weeks, the camera arrived, and it did indeed look like new and I could hardly wait to try it out. I started out by taking photos of insects, in a field near my house, and became fascinated with the insect world.

The beautiful lacewing has fragile see through wings, which give them their name.

The ones I saw were blue-green lacewings, with extensive black markings. They have black veined wings, and a black underside to their abdomen, and are 1 to 2 cm in length.

Adult lacewings have ears at the base of their wings, and although small, they have really great hearing.

Lacewings have a huge appetite for aphids, mites, leaf hoppers, and many soft bodied insects, as do the larvae "not shown in this post." They are ferocious predators.

The best areas for lacewings are areas with a large variety of plants. Adults also seek nectar and pollen.

Lacewing larvae are great pollinators, and the perfect pest control for your garden, and of course the farmers, and gardeners friend.

Grasses, Yarrow, Queen Anne's lace, Marguerite daisies, and Goldenrod are some of their favourite flowers

Their beautiful almost turquoise colour drew me to where they were poised, the blue is so pretty. I have seen green Lacewings, which I have always found under a leaf, and they are more difficult to spot on the greenery, but this was the first time I have seen this colour. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

More News, and a Tribute to Mel.

Returning to blogging has been difficult. After my health scare, I became very unsteady on my feet, and I had a series of falls resulting in two broken wrists, and  a back injury.  My camera also broke when it crashed on our tiled patio. Of course I was upset, but with two broken wrists I couldn't use my camera anyway. It took twelve months of physio, that is six months on each wrist, to get the strength back, so I could open and close my own front door, open jars and milk bottles, and eat a steak for example. Hubby used to cut up my solid foods, and for a couple of months, my daughter Eve helped me to shower, and dress, washed my hair, and did any chores she know I wasn't able to do. 

During this time our precious little Teckel became ill. She passed away a month later, being only 9 years old. We were distraught, and inconsolable. She had brought a light into our lives , which has now been distinguished. Mel is dearly missed. She was buried in a flower bed in our garden, and there is a bench there, where we can sit.

 I forgot to tell you that after falling, I developed Tendinitis in my right shoulder, and both my arms, and I couldn't even hold Mel in my arms, in case I dropped her. I'm welling up as I write this, so l will stop writing now.


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