Gatekeeper, Skipper And Blue And A Mystery Moth For Pete

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I found the allotment teeming with bees and butterflies the other evening. As you can see, the butterflies really love the oregano flowers. The little blue butterfly was too skittish for me to get a good photo, but I’m assuming it is a small blue or a common blue.

One of the best thing about Word Press is how one blogger introduces you to another although they are poles apart across the planet. In this case Ark down in Johannesburg who documents his garden’s wildlife visitors (please go and see his latest slide show of some of Africa’s loveliest birds) gave me a nudge to visit Pete Hillman who documents wildlife from his home in Staffordshire, the next door county to mine. He takes very beautiful photos and is a fund of knowledge over what’s what.

So now for my mystery moth. These are rubbish photos due to the high speed whizzy movements of the subject. I’m thinking it is a hawk moth of some sort. It was out late the other morning, pile driving the phlox flowers with a very scary proboscis. Most unnerving. Over to you, Pete…

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Miniscule On Monday ~ Interesting The Things You Find Under The Cosmos

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Can you see it? This slightly fuzzy macro shot has made a monster of the tiny little crab spider that is busy trying to hide from me. I should say that in real life it was less then one eighth of an inch (2mm) from top to toes. Even so, and you can’t see it very well from this angle, its abdomen had taken on the camouflage colours of the pinky-purple cosmos.

There’s just so much going on in the natural world around us, and most of it we miss entirely.

Solar-Powered Apple Lanterns As Repurposed By Blackbirds ~ Thursday’s Special

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Sometimes it takes me a long time to reach the allotment. I set off with great purpose, shouldering a big bag of vegetable waste for the the compost heap. It is only a short hike across the field, although after rain it can be treacherously slithery, thus requiring due care and attention to avoid all outbreaks of undignified slippage. And then there are the distractions. And if I happen to have a camera in my pocket: well then, gardening must wait.

So that’s what happened when I spotted these apples that someone had slung over their hedge in the autumn. During the winter the blackbirds had nibbled the insides so neatly that only the skins remained. Not only that, the delicate apple ‘shells’ had now accrued quite new and surprising properties. Lying scattered in downtrodden grass and browning leaves, they were now capturing and emitting that too rare glow of winter sunshine. Thank you, blackbirds. A fine light show.

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Thursday’s Special: recycled

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Jackdaws Tuning In

The cawing of rooks and chack-chacking of jackdaws in the grounds of St. Bride’s Castle was deafening. Day after day and no break from the din as the birds whisked round gathering nesting material or scouting out new nesting spots. The jackdaws seemed to have their sights on the castle turrets, while the rooks had commandeered the nearby ash wood where they were busy composing the usual twiggy mounds up in the treetops. So much commotion and it said one thing: SPRING!

March Square #28

In which Six Go Potty In Pembroke With Cockapoo Puppy – holiday snaps #9

Look Out! Wildlife Breakout In Shrewsbury Yesterday

I don’t know what Charles Darwin would have thought about this particular piece of birthplace birthday commemoration on his behalf. Yesterday the passers by on Wyle Cop, one of Shrewsbury’s most ancient streets, either engaged at full throttle or looked thoroughly bemused. It was certainly an original idea to devote part of the road to a wildlife reserve (Wild Cop), and to turn an empty nearby shop into a rain forest wherein children could also pick up their wildlife activity sheets to fill in during half term week.

It turned out to be part of the town’s Darwin Festival – held throughout February both to mark the fact that Darwin was born in Shrewsbury (12 February 1809), and to celebrate ‘the origin of independent thinking.’ I’ll second that fine objective. We can’t have too much of it. Now for the animals:

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In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.

Charles Darwin

Six Word Saturday

Thursday’s Special ~ Best Shot 2017

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This week Paula asks us to post our best photo from 2017. I wasn’t sure where to start, but decided to reprise the cricket which, the first time around, Ark kindly identified as a Katydid or bush cricket. It is certainly my most surprising shot of the year – both for its clarity and the fact the cricket appears to have been watching me while I organised myself with the camera. I also like the curving grasses and the bands of light and shade, and the way the cricket appears to be super-illuminated. But best of all, it reminds me of Kalamata, and the mesmerizing views of the Taygetos and the Mani across the Gulf of Messinia for I find myself still badly smitten with the Peloponnese. Ah, well. Maybe next year…

Thursday’s Special

Magic In The Web Of It

I don’t think I’ve every thought about what spiders do in winter – apart from their sneaking into our house and lurking there for the duration. So I was mightily surprised on my way over the field to the allotment yesterday to find lots of webs like these among the tussocks of flattened, snow-emerged grass. I was also surprised to feel the sun warm on my head as I bent down to take this photo.

Up at the allotment, and despite the sudden warmth, all was in a state of post-snow-shock. The aged damson tree had lost a branch. The green manure mustard that I’d grown on several plots was sprawled about the place, and my pigeon defence system over the kale completely collapsed. It mostly looked damp and dreary everywhere.

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But I did spy some field beans sprouting, and the self-seeded marigolds were flowering heroically. I plucked a few leeks, and leaves of perpetual spinach, chard and kale.

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Then I wandered around other people’s plots, looking at what was what. At first I thought my only company was a wren, flitting like a little moth in the greengage tree.  But when I reached the big conifer on the allotment boundary, I spotted a Goldcrest foraging in its branches – our tiniest British bird (I think) apart from its cousin the Firecrest. And then there were the blackbirds feasting on a hoard of fallen apples. None of them stayed around to be photographed though.

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And that included the kestrel who was using the summit of an ash tree as a look-out post. It flew off as I drew near.  And it was then I noticed a very strange mist creeping across the farm fields towards the town. Some shape-shifting solstice invader masquerading as miasma…?

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P.S. “there’s magic in the web of it” is from Shakespeare’s Othello

Six Word Saturday  Please pop over to Debbie’s for more 6SW offerings.

Incy Wincy Wenlock Crab Spider For Ark: Macro Monday

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The flower is a wild corn cockle, and in real life it’s around an inch across,  or two and a bit centimetres in alternative dimensions. The spider is utterly minute then, and the smallest I have spotted so far in the Farrell garden on Sheinton Street. In fact I only started noticing this species at all after Ark at A Tale Unfolds introduced me to the ones in his Johannesburg garden. Please check out his blog for more of his astonishing garden photos, though be warned – some of his close up arachnid shots might give spiderphobes a turn.

Also please visit Jude at her Macro Monday slot for more wonderful work. She’s featuring geraniums whose intricate beauty we perhaps do not appreciate enough.

Now here’s a less macro shot of the spider though it’s still larger than real life: hard to spot it beside the dewdrops:

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