The Garden Diary

July (second half) - 2001

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16 July - Two close-up images to start this half of the month. Both were taken last night after I had closed down the computer.

The first is of a spider on a Ragwort flower bud. It belongs to the Thomisidae family of crab-like spiders. It walks sideways around the flower heads as it hunts. Here its front two pairs of legs are extended as it waits for an insect to come to the flower to collect pollen. You may just make out the thin silk 'safety line' it produces. The flower-head in the backround is about 6mm across.



This second image is of a bug nymph that was on the Birch tree last night. It would be very helpful if a publisher like Collins would bring out a guide to insect eggs, nymphs and larvae!



I have just been down to my shed at mid-day and met our Blackbird collecting food by the pond. When offered some mealworms she put down some of her catch - a couple of tadpoles!

In the last couple of days there has been what I am sure is a juvenile Great Tit feeding at the peanut feeders and I had a decent look through bino's this afternoon. It does not venture down to the area between the Hawthorn and the house. As I write this (2.45pm) there must be 40+ House Sparrows between the Hawthorn, feeder and bird table - there is a lot of 'twittering' going on!


19 July - This spider was spotted in a plastic container yesterday, with a rather sparse cobweb around it. Its body was about 12mm long and the large palps (at the front, either side of the head) show it to be a male. My Larousse Guide to Spiders comes up with a near match in Tenegraria gigantea, which is common in Southern Britain.

Yesterday saw a brief visit by a Sparrowhawk (I think). I did not actually see it as I was under my caravan at the time, but the noise and reactions of the sparrows was typical of such an attack. Within a couple of minutes things got back to normal around the Hawthorn.

In contrast, a visit to the neighborhood by a Jay brought on a panic that lasted for a long while, with bird alarm calls continuing as first the collared doves and then a male Blackbird tried to chase it off.


21 July - A busy day today with too little time to enjoy the garden even though I spent most of the the day in it.

When doing some sorting I came across a group of Garden snails, including this one that spent its time creeping around the top of a plant container.



In contrast to the speed of the snail, the arrival of a Sparrowhawk caught us and the sparrows completely by surprise this morning. The attack was over so quickly that I did not even get to see if it had caught something.

We actually had three butterfly visits today, although there were no photo opportunities. One was a Large White, the other two were not identified, although one was blue and small, and the other, which Sheila saw was large and brown!


23 July - A brief opportunity offered by a butterfly pausing in the morning sunshine allowed me to get these two images of a Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria tircis). It did not stay long enough for me to get some really steady pictures.




Not a creature that wants to stay still when in the light, this small centipede is about 1cm long and has fifteen pairs of legs. It is probably Lithobius duboscqui, a very common garden centipede.

The poor quality close-up is included to show one of its fangs, or poison claws (arrowed) which are attached to a narrow segment behind the head in front of the leg bearing segments that make up the rest of its body. The poison produced in these fangs is powerful and is used to kill the prey that it catches.

25 July - No chance to watch the garden over the last two days as I have been doing some work on the caravan and car before Sheila and I escape from the rest of the family for a break on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall. The laptop goes with me so I will be adding to my diary as and when I get the chance, although I may not get the opportunity to upload to the site until I get home.

This picture was taken in Coverack harbour a couple of years ago.

One of the highlights of last year was getting very close to dolphins just outside this harbour, watching basking sharks from the headland next to the harbour, and watching a seal feeding just a couple of metres away from us in Falmouth harbour.

In our absence my sons have promised to water the plants, top up the pond, feed the birds and take photographs of any plants that decide to flower - the place is in good hands!

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