June 5th – more bluebirds

I think this is my best bird picture this year. The baby bluebirds had become bolder and coming closer to the house.

Young bluebird close up
Young bluebird close up

Eastern Towhees tend to hide in the bush most of the time, so I didn’t even realise that this was one because it was out on our short grassy area (“lawn” would be an exaggeration and an insult to the variety of plants in it) until I looked at it closer.

Eastern towhee
Eastern towhee

Here are a couple of shots of fireflies. It was really dark, so I used a long exposure to get many flashes, so the background appears much lighter than it did to the eye at the time.

Fireflies
Fireflies
Fireflies 2
Fireflies 2

 

June 2nd – Bluebird time

Another catch-up, from the Spring

These, of course, are baby bluebirds. Aren’t they cute? I put this picture first in the hopes that Facebook shows this to my friends as some (for some unfathomable reason) aren’t keen on bugs.  Tweeps are broader in their tastes.

We usually find that the first set of bluebirds to arrive get chased away by the swallows that take over the nesting boxes, and then they come back later. However, this year they managed to co-exist peacefully with a couple of boxes each, so we got two generations of babies.

Baby blue birds
Baby blue birds

This is a skipper, a member of the Lepidoptera family (moths and butterflies) that seems to be halfway to butterfly from the remaining moths, though I haven’t had time to check the evolutionary tree.  Lepidoptera means “scale winged” and it is the scales, not pigment, that produces the colours you see, especially in the close-up below. I did find that butterflies are related to the micro moths, from this interesting article.

It is usually the club-ends on the antennae that distinguish the butterflies from other moths, and the skippers can be distinguished from butterflies by the hook on the end of the club.

Skipper
Skipper
Skipper close-up
Skipper close-up

Look what the horrible beetle larvae have done to my high-bush cranberry (which isn’t related to true cranberries but is a type of viburnum).

The bush barely survives each year as the larvae emerge you can see a plane move up the tree, below which there is no foliage, until they reach the top. Then they die off and the bush usually produces a second crop, but each year it seems to get weaker. Next year, I hope to be around to protect it, by spraying the larvae with a strong water jet to knock them off until they’re too weak to climb back up.

The adults lay eggs in slits in the bark, which makes them very difficult to remove. And the last generation of larvae overwinter in the soil at the base, but the bush has too many branches to put sticky traps around.

Viburnum leaf beatle damage
Viburnum leaf beetle damage
Viburnum leaf beatle
Viburnum leaf beetle

I like my yellow water lilies because of the interesting red patterns on the leaves.

Water lilies
Water lilies

There are lots of wild irises around, they grow in wet soil so I put them on the edge of the pond.  Very easy to grow from seed; these came from the river. If anybody local wants seeds, I can provide a few.

Wild iris
Wild iris

OK, Charlie, stop looking now. Besides, already posted on FB/Twitter

Not everyone likes spiders, but I do.
This is a hunting spider, not a web spider, hence the long, stiff bristles on its legs, so it can make a sort of cage to stop prey from escaping.

Lynx spider
Lynx spider

And here are pictures of a very common butterfly. They seem to like the gravel on our driveway because I would find a dozen or so sitting there, most sunny days.

Silvery blue 2
Silvery blue 2

Silvery blue at rest
Silvery blue at rest

Back by popular demand

I had not updated this blog for several months, due to too much work-related travel, so no time to do this.  I’m about to do 5 more weeks of leisure travel, so won’t post much either unless I can figure out how to do it from my phone.

However, I have had people asking me to fill in the gaps, and I did take the pictures, so here is a start.

May 26 2015

This baby katydid is well camouflaged, so predators need very keen eyes.

Bush katydid
Bush katydid

I had to cut down two more elm trees that were about 20 years old, because of Dutch Elm Disease, so I am pleased to see that these two even bigger ones are still surviving and look good for at least one more year. The arrows show the top and bottom.

The pole in front of the right-hand tree is the other end of the washing line.

Surviving Elms
Surviving Elms

For some reason, this has been the best year for hibiscus flowers. This one has had as many as eight flowers at once, which is good going for a flower that only lasts a couple of days. (Update from September – my hibiscus plants have all kept going all this time, I’ve never seen so many flowers.  I’ll have to figure out what I’ve been doing right).

Large hibiscus
Large hibiscus

The wild columbines fluctuate in numbers by a large amount each year. At first I thought there were very few this year, but later I found they had spread beyond their usual place on the hill so the numbers were about the same.

Wild columbine
Wild columbine

This is a picture of mosquitoes buzzing on our screen door, trying to get in the house while I taunt them.

Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes