Here is part two, hot on the heels of Part One, let’s keep it linear eh? Along with the buzzing things enjoying the ivy there were also some red admiral butterflies.
Some of these butterflies have migrated from continental Europe and even North Africa. The eggs laid by these late arrivals produce butterflies that can be seen in our gardens through to November. The late flowering ivy is therefore an important food source for them.
The main larval food plants are nettles, so if you want lots of red admirals flitting around your garden, leave a little wild patch of nettles and something for the ivy to grow up. They have been known to hibernate during winter in the south of England, though the sensible ones will attempt to migrate back to sunnier climes.
There were five red admiral butterflies on the ivy at any given time, but they did not position themselves well for a group photo.
Stuck for something to do for three and a half minutes? You can watch my video of a red admiral feeding on the ivy here.
“Champagne Ivy is my name …” sang Miriam Hopkins, arousing the base passions of Fredric Marsh in his definitive portrayal of Mr Hyde (Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde 1931). Ivy seems to have the same effect on bees.
Ivy only flowers if it is allowed to grow upwards, on a wall or tree for example. By flowering in autumn it provides a vital source of pollen and nectar for bees and other insects as they prepare for winter.
The ivy flowers were buzzing with honey bees, hoverflies, wasps, flies and butterflies in an insect feeding frenzy.
Lying in wait for any hapless flying insects, this spider knew a good place to set up her web.
Also prowling the ivy were these two harlequin ladybirds.
The ivy was definitely the bees knees and the tipple of choice.
If you have nothing to do for just over a minute you might like to watch my video here.
I am very pleased to report that the three hoglets are still around and getting rounder. There is also a fourth smaller hoglet that I hope will be able to gain enough weight to hibernate when winter comes. They need to weigh around 600g, so if you have young hedgehogs in your garden you can give them a helping hand by feeding them. There is some excellent advice here.
The full Harvest moon of 16th September 2016 was a bit special.
It coincided with a penumbral eclipse. A lunar eclipse occurs when the full moon lines up with the sun and the Earth, with the Earth’s shadow (umbra) shading the moon. With a penumbral eclipse it is the softer outer shadow of the Earth that is cast over the moon. Rather than a dramatic shadow or a chunk appearing to be taken out of the moon, all that is seen is a slight darkening of the moon.
Of course if it is a cloudy night, as it often is in the UK then you don’t notice anything at all! There will be another chance to see one in February 2017.
The Rowan trees are bursting with berries. However, their leaves are yet to turn to autumnal shades.
Apparently the UK is “bracing itself” for a cranefly invasion. So far I have found two bouncing around the porch light and this one resting on a shrub.
A damp winter and warm September have provided the perfect conditions for this insect and there could be billions of them. They are considered an agricultural pest as their larvae eat the roots of cereal crops. However, they do not bite, sting or spread disease so there is no need to be scared of them. They just make a really annoying noise if they are bouncing against your lampshade at night. They are also known as “daddy long legs”.
As new cyclamen blooms are starting to flower, some are going to seed.
As I mentioned in my previous post, “Cyclamen“, after flowering the stems coil up.
The seeds are carried off by ants attracted by a sticky substance around the seed.
It is a lovely plant during all of its stages.
Thursday 22nd September 2016 marks the autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere, the start of astronomical autumn. The apples have ripened in time for it.
The golden rod has shed its summer sheen and opted for fluffy autumnal shades as it goes to seed.
I have put together a few photographs that I took during the first part of September. First up; I was rather taken with the way these clouds were lit in the early morning.
The River Wye was looking serene.
The iron Hunderton railway bridge.
Someone has grown some impressive sunflowers on their allotment.
The snow berries, Symphoricarpos albus, are now forming. These are poisonous, but so irritating that they are invariably vomitted up before getting into the system. They are a member of the honeysuckle family and can be eaten by pheasants. Highly imaginative folk also thought they might be food for spirits and so they are also known as corpseberries.
Usually buskers are to be seen, and heard, with guitars or other portable instruments, so I was rather surprised when I saw these guys.
I think the instrument the one is playing is a dulcimer. It must have been hard work dragging it to this position! In case you are wondering, they were playing “Strangers in the Night”.
The Michaelmas daisies are proving popular with our pollinators. After the visit by the solitary bee a couple of days ago, it was the turn of this bumblebee.
I believe it is a common carder bee, Bombus pascuorum. These are social bees that nest in holes, old bird nests, or in lawns. The queen will line the nest with moss and bond it with wax. The nest is filled with pollen and nectar for the larvae to feed on. Once the eggs are laid the queen will collect fibrous strands from plants and comb them into a covering for the eggs. This is where they get the name carder from, after a carder machine which combs fibres of wool or cotton to prepare them for spinning.
They feed on a variety of flowers and will be found in pretty much any habitat that contains flowers.
As the sun sets on another day, the slugs and snails come out to play. Fortunately we have natural slug control here.
Firstly the hedgehogs, including this adorable young hoglet, patrol the garden for pests.
Later on the slug devouring night shift is joined by this beautiful frog.
Just look at those eyes, who wouldn’t want to kiss him?
Now that I have your attention! Of course I’m referring to the insect life, still making the most of the warmth of the sun before autumn sets in.
This speckled wood butterfly is in slightly better condition than the previous one that I photographed.
This honey bee is stripping the last of the golden rod of its nectar and pollen.
This is some sort of a solitary bee on the Michaelmas daisy.My attempts to identify exactly what sort of a solitary bee it is ended in failure.
It is always nice to be given a helping hand in the garden.
In this case it was a helping beak that dropped some dwarf sunflower seeds from the bird food.
The red variety of clover, Trifolium pratense is in evidence by the hedgerows at the moment.
It is taller, with a larger flower head than white clover. It is grown as a fodder crop and it also fixes nitrogen in the soil, improving it for the next crop.
The main pollinator of red clover is the long tongued bumblebee, Bombus hortorum. A long tongue is required to reach the nectar, although shorter tongued bees have been observed cheating, by biting a hole at the back of the floret.
And of course, if you find one with four leaves you are very lucky indeed.
“You ruddy hooligan!” Squeaked the frog, “That’s my home you’re destroying!”
“Yeah, well,” replied the gardener. “It is supposed to be a garden path, not a nature reserve.” The petulant reply belied the guilt the gardener felt as they cleared away the ivy, moss and litter to reveal stark lifeless crazy paving.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
There was certainly an abundance of mellow fruitfulness amongst the hedgerows on this warm but dank September day. Just look at the size of those juicy ripening blackberries!
The dog roses have turned to rosehips.
The hawthorn blossom to berries.
The blackthorn blossom to sloes. Safely tucked away behind those brambles and rose thorns, so no sloe gin for me this year.The blackberries and rosehips themselves are also pretty well defended.
Gazing up into our favourite horse chestnut tree ….
…we see that the conkers are coming along nicely too.
The bright yellow ragwort flowers have turned to seed.
The trees are still green and leafy, but for how much longer.
The farmer has planted his winter crop.
People walk their dogs through the fields, as the sun sets slowly over the horizon.
The cyclamen are flowering now. They are members of the family Primulaceae, along with primroses. They are native to Europe and the Middle East and prefer shady areas in which to grow.
A friend on Twitter likened the flowers to butterflies. The flowers start off drooping and furled, then they open out and the petals stretch upwards, delicate and shining.
The name derives from the Latin, cyclamīnos, meaning circle, due to the round tuber whence the leaves and flower stems grow. They are also known as sowbread as it was thought that pigs enjoyed uprooting and eating the tubers, which resemble little loaves of bread. Modern anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that pigs don’t actually like them. They are also poisonous to cats and dogs. However, the caterpiller of the gothic moth feeds on them.
Once they have stopped flowering the stems coil up and a fruit pod forms. This contains sticky seeds that attract ants, which is how they are dispersed.
Medieval herbalists used cyclamens to make various ointments and potions for all sorts of remedies from curing snake bites to speeding up labour.
I have added the August gallery to my page, 366 Days – 2016 in Photographs.
Saturday 3rd September started reasonably enough with a pleasantly dappled pinkish dawn.
Mrs Fancypants-Tail, the squirrel, stocked up on peanuts. It was just as well as it pretty much rained for the rest of the day.
Then in the evening the muddy rainclouds combined with the setting sun to cast a weird and sickly orange glow over everything. The sky looked like this.
Then it turned vibrant pink.
Then it started getting more blueish.
These ominous clouds barrelled in.
Then it went black and rained again.