Saturday, March 29, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
'Twas a full moon on the 21st. The "Lenten moon", (named after "Lent" - the period of fasting before Easter.
Talking of Easter - Easter sunday (today) is the earliest Easter has fallen for 95 years!
Ever wondered about Easter and why the DATE changes?
Blame the Catholics (as per usual).
Easter Sunday HAS to be celebrated on the FIRST sunday after the FIRST full moon AFTER the Vernal Equinox.
The Equinox (21st) and the full moon (21st) fell on the same date this year, and the first sunday (23rd - today) was only 2 days later - THAT'S why Easter feels so early this year.
It is. (It can hardly BE any earlier)!
That doesn't explain the bitter conditions though! Or the snow in the east of the country!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Monday - a day off and MUCH better weather.
The insects responded today....
Greenbottles buzzing around, mining bees and this emerging "Cabbage White" butterfly.
No cabbages in our garden (I TODAY put in 28 Maris peers and a little heather for my bee box), so this chap is my friend.
Click on the photo to see a full size version of this photograph I took on our backdoor step this afternoon.
Have a little wander around the "New Warren" whilst you're there if you like.
I've also today uploaded a photo of the FULL butterfly (showing the very dainty wing scales) and a photo of a small "Greenbottle" blowfly, with its eyes nicely in focus...
Like I said - click the photo above to be transported to my online photo album, or click the link at the top LHS of the home page of "Blue-Grey".
We've had a bleedin' abysmal day or two - weatherwise (not to mention the rugby).
That said, the wind and rain didn't stop these two (Succinea) Harlequin Ladybirds indulging in a bit of what comes naturally in the office courtyard yesterday.
I also managed to spot a "Conspicua" Harlequin (black with red bullseyes) sheltering from the rain also - but failed to get a decent photo.
Click on the photo above to view the full size Harlequin ladybirds photo in the "New Warren".
Friday, March 14, 2008
Well. At least the snails have come out tonight to play - they've liked this wet weather, clearly.
The garden was crawling with these tiny snails this evening.
I don't know much about Gastropods or indeed Molluscs in general, but I'd hazard a guess that this is one of the tiny round garden snails from the Zonitidae family, and very possiblly Oxychilus cellarius, which as the name suggests, is very common in gardens, parks and cellars.
These snails tonight in the garden all had (calcium carbonate) shells of about 8 or 9mm across (no more, for sure).
Just in case you weren't aware, there are about NINETY species of terrestrial snails in the UK.
Most snails exhibit 4 retractable "tentacles" at the front of their head. The bottom two are "olfactory" organs (smell), whilst the top (upper) two are the "eye stalks" or, if you want a posh word to impress people with at dull dinner parties (or more likely, bore them to tears), you can call them by their proper name..... ommatophores
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The other shot above is of the Waxing moon (leaving new, approaching full), which I took at ten to seven tonight.
I'm rather proud of this photo - as I had to hold the tripod steady in the blustery winds tonight to get it - FAR from ideal moon photography conditions.
This moon shot IS in the "New Warren". (see link at top LHS of "Blue Grey").
It has been recently pointed out to me (by a good blogging pal of mine) that I seem to be using "Flickr" (The "New Warren" online photo album of mine) more than my blog at "Blue-Grey (use your eyes)".
This is absolutely right.
I use my "Flickr" (my New Warren) as it is SET UP to deal with large file size photographs - something I am very much getting into at the moment, and enjoying thoroughly - especially the macro or close-up shots I take.
I will be posting on "Blue-Grey" (my blog) regularly, and feel free (possibly) to use slighly er... fruitier language on my personal site (my blog)!
There will be some (many possibly) instances where I won't be able to get a decent photograph of what I'd like to post about, and therefore I will be posting about those times on my blog alone.
There will be times when I don't feel the post warrants any photo -again, "Blue-Grey" will (obviously) be the place I make that post, still.
Then are the videos I intend to keep taking with my stills camera - again - these cannot be uploaded to the New Warren (Flickr), so have a place in my blog (and on my "youtube channel") reserved especially for them.
Finally there's the nestbox.
I am afraid we are both (Anna and I) very pessimistic about the chances of our pair of Blue Tits nesting in our nestbox any time soon - if AT ALL this year.
As mentioned briefly a week or so ago, I was worried that the pair hadn't visited the box in some time after being SO interested in it, and visiting every day for some weeks.
I'm afraid (after briefly becoming optimistic after the "Long-tailed Tit incident") that I've seen no nestbox activity AT ALL since then, so can only assume they've really lost interest now.
Was it the rat? The woodpecker? The windows in the box? The wee camera? Us? The bloody awkward neighbours (but one)?
Lets just say, that I am WELL aware that Blue Tits can nest as early as the middle of march, and as late as May, so we have a few months to "re-attract" them to their rightful home...
Fingers and toes crossed please, everyone, and any activity we manage to get - I (of course) will post on "Blue-Grey".
As for "flickr" (the New warren)....
Many people post photographs on flickr with little or no text. I always like to add a bit, even if its where I photographed what I photographed, or a little information about the shot or subject of the shot.
For my benefit, if no-one elses!
Feel free to peruse both "Blue-Grey" and "The New Warren" should you wish, and comment on either, if that takes your fancy.
But please be under no illusion - "Blue-Grey" is not going anywhere, or being taken over by my online photo-album.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I am seeing these big Queen Bumblebees everywhere at the moment - all looking for a suitable nest site.
Unfortunately, the individual I snapped on the garden fence this afternoon was carrying a few passengers...
Please click on the photo to be immediately transported to the New Warren, where you'll not only be able to see the full size photo, but also be able to read a little about these Bumblebee mites in my explanatory text (should you so wish...!)
Click on the edited photo to be transported to the New Warren, where you'll not only be able to see the FULL version of this photograph I took today (with its head still on!), but get some explanatory text to go with it....
Sunday, March 09, 2008
I'll make this quick then.
Just over the last couple of days, I've noticed far more insect life out and about in the garden.
Queen Bumblebees (of a few species I'm sure) are always flying around the garden like big bomber planes, (I nearly got a shot of one today), as are the Common Carder Bees (always early to rise in the year, and late to disappear).
I saw my first Mirid Bug of the year today, and the first two species of Hoverfly. One was a "Marmalade Hoverfly" (I've posted on this species before), but I wasn't quick enough to identify the second.
I've noted some aphids (Greenfly to be precise) on the Daffodils in the front lawn, and Wolf spiders in long grass on my walks.
Finally - I've seen two Harlequin Ladybirds in the past few days - one in the garden (see above). So now we have loads of Pine Ladybirds out and about (I saw dozens on lichen on an Oak tree t'other day), and the evil intruder also...
I'm a little concerned about our Blue Tits once more. I know both are alive. I see them about a bit - but they really seem to have lost interest in the nestbox. We'll just have to wait and see on that score...
The female Woodpecker is visiting the feeding post quite often these days, and the rat has yet to walk into our live capture trap - though our neghbours have caught a baby rat in a similar device - (I'm a bit jealous to be honest)!
Click HERE to see the full size versions of a few pictures I took today (of a Harlequin Ladybird and a Dunnock) and explanatory text to go with them in my "New Warren" online photo album...
On friday (gone) I took a train to a local lake, where I normally spend time watching the Peregrines and interesting Ducks - Hosehill lake (a nature reserve near Theale).
I think this was the first time I walked round this lake and hardly even looked at any birds - I was far more interested in photographing the flowers and views around the lake.
It was nice to see the Oak buds appearing. I have been worried for the past few days that we were in for an "Ash before Oak" season (you're in for a soak) rather than an "Oak before Ash" (you're in for a splash), as I'd seen the Ash buds out already.
The first large Oak I happened across though - and it had obviously been in bud for ar least as long as the Ash.
I've posted a picture of a "Marble Gall" on an Oak branch below. This was made last summer by a single female parasitic wasp, but it hs been deserted for months now, and turned quite woody.
I think we have something to the tune of 90 or so different types of Galls and Gall Wasps in the UK - and around half of those are found only on Oak trees.
I also think friday was the first day that all the midges hatched in huge numbers. I really could have done with some "Jungle Formula" walking around the lake - but I very much enjoyed watching some spiders "make hay" with these chironomid midges.
The Zebra spider I photographed above had just finished her meal of midge when I took her photograph.
It was also nice to try and learn a little more about our wild flowers which are now popping out of the ground all over the place - that book I bought t'other day is really coming in handy now! I fully admit my knowledge of flowers and plants is pretty abysmal - I've stepped on them for as long as I can remember, but am starting to really appreciate them now...
Finally - I thought I'd take some photographs of a grazing horse, which seemed very happy to follow me around. I like the photograph so much (above), that I'm thinking of printing it up nicely, and asking the horse's owner (who I don't know) if they'd like to buy it off me! What have I got to lose eh?!
Anyhoo - click on any of the photographs above to enlarge, as normal... AND click HERE to see more of my Hosehill lake photographs (and others) in the "New Warren" online photo album.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
The Daffodils in the front garden are seemingly overlfowing with critters recently.
Two Angle Shade moth caterpillars, a Spider Mite (or a dozen) and now some black ants.
The larger version of this photograph is now in the "New Warren" for you to take a look at, should you wish...
Click on the photo again to do just that...
Monday, March 03, 2008
Sunday, March 02, 2008
NB. 7/3/08 After a little more research on this fly, I've now positively identified it as NOT Calliphora vomitoria (the "Common Bluebottle") but the almost identical C.vicina.
How did I come to that conclusion? Because its "cheeks" (the spots on the face under the eyes) are RED(ish) in colour - in C.vomitoria the cheeks would be BLACK.Just as well I got the head in focus. Only C.vomitoria is strictly speaking the "Common Bluebottle". Calliphora vicina is very closely related, but not as blue as the Bluebottle.
There you go - I'm learning something every day...