Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sweat bee Halictus rubicundus

 This is the sweat bee Halictus rubicundus.  I've just added these images to the Other bees pages.  When I first saw one I though it was a hoverfly, then a wasp.  It was only when I found one in the garden and caught it in my net and saw the legs that I knew she must be a bee.  Those back legs are just fantastic for carrying pollen.  I realise now that the ones I'd seen when out with my dog had been heavily laden with pollen, and it was that that made them so visible.
The weather is getting colder and windier by the day.  I have to light the log fire every day now, but it is nice to come home from a long walk in the woods to sit and doze by the fire.

The purple cow

I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.
G Burgess.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Hoverfly that looks like Bombus pascuorum

This hoverfly was foraging in the woods along with Bombus pascuorum, and at first glance could easily be mistaken for it.  I'd seen it many times before, but had never managed to get a good photograph of it.  This is the best I could do.  However when I got home and tried to identify it I realised I hadn't taken a very good photograph of the vital parts that distinguish this species - it has orange antennae - most other hoverflies have black or dark brown antennae.  Anyway at least I've got a photograph of it.  I set the camera to zoom and stood well back.  Before I was setting it to close up, as I do for bumblebees.  Bumblebees are so tolerant and will let you get within a cm before showing any signs of anger.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Welsh wave Venusia cambrica

Just added this image to the Geometridae page.  I spotted this moth in a next to a woodland path one morning.  Luckily I was able to photograph it before it moved off.

I've finally managed to get my onion sets planted, and we've even had a few minutes of watery sunshine.  I have yet to succeed in growing onions to anything bigger than the size of a marble, so we'll see what these winter onions will do.  There would be nothing in that bed at this time of year anyway, so even if they are not so big, it will be a bonus.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Mesembrina meridiana, large fly with yellow markings on face

 This is Mesembrina meridiana, a large fly in the Muscidae (house flies) family.  It has very distinctive yellow markings on is face.
 The photograph below shows the sticky pads on its feet, and the two claws that will help it cling to almost any surface.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Eudonia mercurella - obscure but common moth

 I photographed this moth months ago - way back in the spring, but I couldn't identify it.  Finally I now know what it is.  I'd seen a few on the walls of the house early in the morning.  I like its striped legs.

I was going to plant garlic today, but didn't have the time and the weather was bad anyway.  I must get it in soon though.  Apparently garlic must have a cold spell if it is to do well.  Last year I put mine in in the spring, and it was pathetic.  Now I know why.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Tetrix denticulata

This is Tetrix denticulata.  I think it's a female, but I'm not sure.  I'd been trying to photograph this spider for ages.  She lives in the wall at the base of which I've been digging a border and planting.  I saw her many times, but never got a proper look as she scuttled back into the web as soon as there was any movement.  So I got the camera and tripod all set up, and them got on with some gardening.  Later, when I came back there she was sitting at the entrance to her web.  I think I have quite a few of this species in the wall.  I've seen bumblebees touch the edges of the web as they bask in the sun.  They are big enough to escape, though.

I'm going to plant up some pots of Freesia bulbs/corms tomorrow.  I know some say they can survive outside, but I'm not taking the chance.  This year I had them in a pot, but they were very disapointing as they flopped over everywhere.  However this time I am going to put a wire support or something around them to hold them up.  I do love the smell of Freesias.

I am still picking sweet peas, but only enough for a very small vase.  They took absolutely ages to get going this year, and only the ones facing south came to anything.  The ones facing east fizzled out very early on.

The cucumber spider

This stunning spider is a mature male Araniella curcubitina, commonly known as the cucumber spider.  I almost squashed him as he was crawling over the handle of my trowel when I went to pick it up.

His palps are swollen, so that means he is mature and on the hunt for a female to mate with.  I took him in and photographed him, then put him back in the greenhouse and left him to it.

I haven't seen any female cucumber spiders in there, however they do have small, untidy webs, so they could be at the back of the shelves.

I cannot get over how attractive this spider looks.  I got out the x10 lens to have an even better look, and he was very good and stayed still for a while.

I've just finished Kipling's The man who would be king.  I'd seen the film, but never read it before.  It was really good.  I might go back and read some more Kipling.  I used to devour his stuff when I was a kid, but I think it was all in the children's versions, and so probably cut and abridged.

Well Downton Abbey has finished.  I watched them all, and though I did thoroughly enjoy it I do think it was less good than the first series - but then that was a hard act to follow.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Large yellow underwing

I found this very battered Large yellow underwing when I went to add some compost the the bin.  It looks as if it has been attacked by birds on more than one occasion.

I often find the fat caterpillars when I'm digging in the borders.  I know they eat some of my plants, but I just leave them.  It is worth it to get an occasional glimpse of the adult.

I had one in the greenhouse last year.  It almost made me jump out of my skin, and I did drop my watering can.  It was resting in the corner on the soil and some dead leaves.  I bent over to pick up the leaves and it opened its wings to display the yellow. Well it certainly works, even on humans!  I've seen the orange underwing too, but the startle reflex flashing works so well that I've not been able to catch one to photograph it.