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This and that

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Reading Stera’s blog about the slow-worm was terrific, I have never seen one but did see something else last week.
Walking back to the kitchen to check the time, just as I got to the back door something caught the corner of my eye (as these things do sometimes). What the heck was that draped across the flowerpot container standing near the back door? It’s a green container for holding plants indoors, nothing as posh as a Jardiniere, just a green pot. This got dumped outside when the plant it contained went out for the Summer, more about that in a minute.
Another look confirmed that this was a grass snake about 1½ – 2 ft long, so bright and the yellow on the head stood out so much it must be a young one or just shed it’s skin. Dashed in for the camera, but of course it had gone!
I knew we had at least one about as I had found the skin near the compost heap down on the field, but never thought of them up near the house, just a couple of feet from the door! It was taking a drink (presumably) from the bottom of the container, or perhaps eating the flies which had dropped in the small amount of water in the bottom. Sadly like Stera, no photo!

Next day I was wading in the pond dragging out some weed which had got so invasive it is now growing underneath the rocks around the edge, so there is no chance of getting rid of it. Dragging a mat of this towards me to pull apart and sling in the barrow, who should be looking at me but the grass snake again. Never having seen one here and not having seen one for donkey’s years, it was amazing that two days running I should see this one – quite a treat. He swam off out of the way and will hopefully stay around the pond.

The snake was not the only thing I disturbed, one indignant frog and lots of Damsel flies and Dragon-flies. The frog got disturbed yet again when I was still trying to get the roots of this plant from under rocks. We have a lot of frogs about, several got disturbed when we were moving rocks to eventually try to finish the rockery around the old boat pond. Also found while moving these was a Common lizard which got transferred to some rocks which aren’t going to get moved again!

Yesterday walking round bemoaning how many weeds grow behind you, I yanked out a half eaten weed (for the life of me I can’t remember the name) thinking it had been eaten by rabbits, only to realise too late that it had caterpillars on it (the real eaters). Hastily I transferred the plant against another which also had caterpillars on it. The orange and black striped ones of the really pretty Cinnabar moth, so today some got transferred again to a Ragwort plant that I found as these are it’s usual food plant. https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/cinnabar

Photos of the Dragonflies laying eggs in the pond.

Bees, bees everywhere, especially on the Lavender and the Russian sage (perovskia atriplicifolia) where I saw the first honey bees of the year. Hundreds of various Bumblebees, but no ‘real’ bees until then. One I did see which I think may be a Ruderal Bumblebee was all black with just a ghosting of the stripes on his tail.

Another fleeting glimpse, without the camera of course was the Shrew that ran across the steps and into the Heather bed. Perhaps I should walk about with the camera hanging round my neck! These were always called Rannies in Norfolk from the word Ranny, see here
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ranny But it’s only us ‘old uns’ that call them that now!

As for the plant that originally lived in the pot that the grass snake was investigating, it got plonked in the garden for the summer. A Tradescantia which usually lives indoors, the place I plonked it gives a nice picture, more by luck than design, as it has a miniature garden Tradescantia beside it with almost the same colour flowers and a Lavender, so a nice blend of purples.

After some strenuous pruning went indoors to bake Madeira cake for the Peacocks. Ten to add to the freezer!

Was going to write about the plants that had or hadn’t done well this year, but that will have to be another time!

More blog posts by honeysucklegold

Previous post: It's definitely a wildlife garden!



Comments

 

Madeira Cake .....for the Peacocks???

8 Aug, 2019

 

Ditto - Madeira Cake......for the Peacocks???

Beautiful photos - even without all the 'unusual' creatures!

8 Aug, 2019

 

Thanks Karen and Sunnydais for ploughing your way through to the end! I always cook cake for the Peacocks, they get a few pieces before they go to bed and if I have to call them back from off the road. They come to a whistle, knowing they will get cake! This worked well until OH decided that the Robins (three of) needed some left out in strategic places every night, the Rabbit also likes a bit of cake and of course the Geese. So more cake needed. While our few hens are still laying I bake to use up the eggs and the cakes get stored in the freezer.

8 Aug, 2019

 

That is so funny - but there again if I had Peacocks in the garden I'd be spoiling them too - I spoil all our birds/mice. I didn't feed the frog (at least not knowingly) - maybe that's why he seems to have hopped off to pastures new - probably got a sniff of Madeira Cake somewhere.......ha-ha!

8 Aug, 2019

 

The dragonfly is the Emperor and what a super set of photos of her. Wow snakes are the one things I haven't seen in my garden ever. sadly. The garden is clearly a wildlife haven. gold star for you then :o)

8 Aug, 2019

 

I'd be nibbling it myself as I put it out! ;)

8 Aug, 2019

 

Lovely blog. What a great garden for wildlife! We have had lots of different types of bumble bees buzzing in the garden this year, but I have never seen a black one! Very interesting. Madiera cake for all the birds and rabbit! They are very spoilt! Ha Ha!

8 Aug, 2019

 

What a marvellous time you've been having! Mind you, if your amazing garden doesn't attract wildlife there isn't much hope for the rest of us... Its lovely to see a grass snake swimming - only ever seen that once. But my word after all the work you do and all the care you take you surely deserve some treats!
How long does it take y to make all those cakes? There's my cake output for many months there!

8 Aug, 2019

 

The funny thing Sunnydais is the lone Guinea Fowl who when he gets up in the morning (or rather down from his roost) he checks out if OH is up and about and if not he comes round to the front of the bungalow and chitters under the bedroom window! This will go on until OH gets up, gives him a piece of cake and goes out and puts down the food for the rest of the menagerie. Cake is also involved in this of course.

9 Aug, 2019

 

Thanks Seaburn for the identification of the Dragonfly. I thought it might be a Common Darter, but they are all so complicated!

9 Aug, 2019

 

My Grandson has been known to share a piece intended for the Peacocks - but I get dirty looks and then have to go and get more if I try it Karen.

9 Aug, 2019

 

Thanks Numbersfarn, we too have lots of Bumblebees, many of which nest in the ground. Weeding is a bit nerve-wracking as I get this big guilt trip if I disturb what might be a hole in the ground of a bee. When we had lots more rough grass out the front, when it was cut there would be lots of thin sticks put where the holes were so the bees could find their way back! Cutting or weeding a bit of grass that is used as a landmark had to be replaced by something else. Mad I know!

9 Aug, 2019

 

Thanks Stera, my 'amazing garden' as you call it is full of weeds at the moment, however many hours I spend trying to get on top of it. My fault as I tend to leave things that have something on them - caterpillars, spiders nests or such like, then of course it seeds and Voila! hundreds of weeds. Cut the grass before the rain and nearly broke my ankle so many times in the Vole holes, it's more holes than grass. However many times I fill them in they reappear! As for the baking I do two batches at a time in the big mixer, it's a bit of bung it all in and mix, then it's more batches until I run out of eggs, marg. or flour. Strangely these nearly always come out well, but if I faff about and try to make a sponge following a recipe, it's more like two pancakes! Perhaps I will just bung that all in and see what happens. I know when I followed a recipe for fairy cakes, they came out flat, but chuck in marg., sugar, eggs and flour to make what we used to call buns and they are fine. Perhaps the huge collection of recipe books I have need to go.

9 Aug, 2019

 

Made me smile - it reminded me of a piece of writing our younger son did in the infants. It read "My Mum makes bung it in cakes" - wonder what the teacher made of it!
I only made one at a time though, and the birds didn't get any...

9 Aug, 2019

 

Your garden is the perfect setting for a nature study group! There is so much of interest, an exciting place to explore. Fascinating photos also.

9 Aug, 2019

 

i think you referred to baking for the birds in a previous blog, Honeysuckle? I commend you for the great photos of the dragonfly lady... They move so fast I feel like a toddler trying to walk and watch at the same time. Twisted ankles really hurt! But the Dragonflies just zoom on out of sight. Have you ever stood still and quiet and listened to the clacking of their mandibles when they're after prey? I've also seen them eating other dragonflies! errrhhmm... We love our dragos over here because they eat many many mosquitoes! Go Boys! It's a trick to stand still and quiet when you feel like Fay Wray! Horseflies and Deerflies zoom zoom like bi-planes, and dive bomb.. they alight and bite simultaneously. Really, really hurt... our poor little dog whimpers and cries to go indoors...they like his perky little ears.. The mosquitoes whine in your ears and are always in stealth mode.. until you feel the nip! but standing still and quiet allows a person to hear them clacking away. When we go for our walk the dragonflies accompany us like a squadron escort!
I know I've whined about it before but I really would love to have peacocks! Can't see me making them Madiera Cake, though! It must take you a good part of your day just feeding and caring for the "livestock"... Always enjoy your blogs, and never have a problem "making it to the end"... they always bring a smile.

10 Aug, 2019

 

Interesting isn't it Stera what children write in their books at school. When my Son was small there were a few that I cringed at!

11 Aug, 2019

 

There is a lot of bugs and things in the garden Wildrose if you take the time to look. There are woodlice every time that you move a flowerpot, piece of wood or stone. Interestingly there are apparently 45 native or naturalised species of woodlice in the UK, amazing really. We used to love them as kids especially the ones that roll into a ball, not all do that, but never realised there were so many different sorts. Shield bugs aplenty and I found a Lesser Stag Beetle sitting on the garden hose, perhaps he thought it was a pretty coloured piece of wood! Sadly we don't get the bigger Stag Beetles this far up country as they are South East only, but perhaps with the warming climate they will spread further into East Anglia.

11 Aug, 2019

 

I expect your Dragonflies are different to ours Lori, probably bigger? I've never heard them, so will have to give that a go. The only reason I got the photo's was probably because they we so intent on laying eggs, the Damsel flies are way too fast!
You can keep your Horse & Deer flies if they bite that bad! I remember watching something on TV years ago when did a programme on mosquitoes hatching into swarms of millions so thick you could hardly see the poor Moose amongst them! Looked like a nightmare, so any help from your Dragonflies is welcome I am sure. Somewhere I read that the mosquitoes that whine and you can hear are the males and don't bite, it's the females you can't hear that bite, but that doesn't seem right as what do the males live on then? Whichever one it is as soon as they are about in the evenings is when I am not!

11 Aug, 2019

 

fantastic

11 Aug, 2019

 

The males of some species will eat the female of the species in the larval stage... BUT... both the male and female live on the plant nectar and water. The blood meal of the female is food for the eggs and is only taken after she has bred. The eggs hatch in water and become larvae, and then airbreathing nymphs. the nymph stage would seem to me to be the most vulnerable as some old mosquito control remedies were oils placed in water buckets and added to stagnant ponds to prevent the nymph from breathing. other bio controls have tried to find a way to confuse the males with pheromone traps, or kill them with electric bug zappers. Too many beneficials fall prey to the zappers for my liking.
The most notable species of mosquito that I've run across was a type which were most common in high summer (in the north) and large enough to see even at a distance... Hub and I called them B-52's. They could wake you from a sound sleep..thinking they were in your ear...when actually they were in the far corner of the room, near the ceiling! The scenario: Three a.m. and the lights are on! fumbling for the fly swatter..and muttering. ( Expletives deleted) !...smash, crash...pfft!... sigh...light out... oblivion. until the next mosquito arrives! It resembles sleep deprivation torture. One of the most important features of a good domicile here in mosquito country, are excellent window screens!... of course when the no-see-ums arrive in August (sand flies) they are small enough to go through most screens and love sources of heat... Human and otherwise. Now that I've totally creeped you out! sorry... :-(

11 Aug, 2019

 

That's interesting Lori, now I know the bit about females biting - always thought women were more dangerous than men! We always have nymphs in water tanks, odd buckets etc., but if you want to collect water you can't really get away from that. I always console myself that there are enough other things about here to keep the numbers down. Don't know if bats eat mosquitoes, as we have some of them who have taken up residence in the two bat boxes I put up.
Don't like the sound of your B-52's, you can definitely keep those!
Perhaps if it keeps getting warmer we might have to invest in window screens

12 Aug, 2019

 

Right I'm heading your way on cake making day, Madeira is my all time favourite, people can keep their fancy iced chocolate and cream ones...Another good read Honey and your photo's are so good, your garden sounds a real haven for all that live there, will admit I think I'd have a blue fit if I saw a snake near my door...

12 Aug, 2019

 

You have bat boxes! I really would like to try that...we have bats that come to the old shed/garage in summer..see them at dusk... Bats and dragonflies are the best mosquito predators. Yesterday I saw a swarm (?) of dragonflies around a monarch butterfly. I wasn't sure if they were trying to take the monarch..so I wandered closer and the butterfly, (typical of when I'm trying to photograph them) took off for greener pastures. The dragonflies did not follow it...so I suppose I was mistaken. In order to save the butterflies there's a real movement here in Ontario to plant and grown Asclepias, I didn't want to see all that effort go unrewarded by dragonflies who could just as easily eat mossies.

13 Aug, 2019

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