30 Days Wild – Day 3

After the sunniest and one of the driest springs on record today it finally rained! I felt obliged to have a little walk about in it, not to get soaking wet, but just to experience the feeling, the sound of the raindrops, the smell of the dampening vegetation and witness the toning down of the colours. I bet I was not the only person to have gone out to get the feel of rain today, we might complain about it but we miss it when it is away for too long.

ox-eye daisy with rain

ox-eye daisy clinging onto the rain

Many plants have water repellent leaves, which result in beads of water and others hold the drops with hairy leaves. The leaves of perforated St John’s-wort are obviously very good at this, holding large droplets.

water on perf St John's wort

Perforated St John’s-wort

As it rained, even if lightly, pretty much all day, I got few pictures at Blashford, but by evening it had stopped and the garden offered the chance of pictures of two species of butterflies, a brimstone,

brimstone

brimstone

and large white, one of a few on dame’s violet.

large white

large white

As you will have noticed both are the caterpillars of butterflies rather than the adults, it was not really the weather for adult butterflies.

30 Days Wild – Day 5 – Saved by the Garden

My Wild Day really wasn’t today as I was wrestling with bandages and First Aid acronyms for the whole day until getting home this evening. On days like this having a wildlife garden allows me to get my infusion of the wild, luckily the sun came out this evening and brought out a few insects.

However I have got ahead of myself, I did get a little bit of wildlife in before I went out this morning, thanks to the moth trap. The night was quite warm and the moth catch included a good range of species, the pick being a figure of eighty, although in this picture it looks more like a figure of zero eight.

figure eighty

figure of eighty

Of course if it was pinned in a box as a specimen, as the moth collectors would have done, it would have looked like “80” on this, the left wing and “08” on the right.

Apart from a few swift that flew over when we were doing our outdoor practical first aid I saw almost no other wildlife until I got home. There are lots of flowers out now, both in the meadow and in the border and the evening sun brought out a variety of insects in search of food. There were a good few hoverflies including several Eupeodes corollae, one of the commonest black and yellow species.

Eupeodes corollae male

Eupeodes corollae (male)

The males have rather square spots and the females comma shaped ones. In most hoverflies the males have much larger eyes that meet on the top of their heads, this gives them something close to all-round vision, no doubt helping them to find females.

I have several dame’s violet plants in the garden and they are popular with a lot of insects and attracted the evening’s only butterfly, a rather worn holly blue. Their larvae feed on holly as the name suggests, but also ivy and sometimes dogwood and have two broods each year.

holly blue nectaring on dame's violet

worn holly blue on dame’s violet

All the rest of the evening’s wildlife was in the meadow so………………..

What’s in My Meadow Today?

The meadow is flowering well now and in the mix there are a few ox-eye daisy, not really a typical hay meadow plant, but it can be common in places such as road verges if the mowing regime is not too severe.

ox-eye daisy and small beetle

ox-eye daisy with a small beetle

I am pretty sure the tiny beetle is a varied carpet beetle, they do not always live in houses subsisting on best Wilton.

I also spotted a tiny hoverfly resting on the end of a grass stem, it was Syritta pipiens.

Syritta pipiens

Syritta pipiens

Despite being very small it is distributed across virtually the entire northern temperate zone from Ireland to the far east and across North America, where it probably arrived as an accidental introduction.

Rather more striking was the single soldier-fly I saw, a common species but always nice to see, the broad centurion Chloromyia formosa.

Chloromyia formosa

broad centurion (male)

Again it is easy to see this is a male as almost the entire head is taken up with the eyes.