The Garden Diary 2005

May-Part 3

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21 May - A dull, cool start to the weekend, so that even this ladybird decided to stay put, with its head 'tucked under the pillow' this morning!

This 2-Spot variant appears to have spent the night on the Oxeye Daisy flower bud with its head protected under the almost transparent edges of the bracts that protect the developing flowers.

The day turned into one of bright sunny periods, some heavy showers, and remaining cool.

This picture is my first Blue Tit picture for ages. A rather scruffy individual that had just arrived in the Hawthorn during a heavy shower.

I can't quite decide if the local pair is nesting to the South-West or North-West of us, or perhaps there are two pairs taking food away from the garden! With the weather so changeable I hope that the food supply will help their families to fledge successfully. 


While the rain fell and I was confined to the veranda I spent a few minutes trying to get closer images of the buttercups.

The image on the left is of a flower that has just opened, and you can see the stamens still grouped together, and wrapped around the immature female carpels. Some of the outer stamens have started to shed their pollen.

The right hand image shows an older flower in which the stamens are spread wide and the carpels have matured and bear stigmas which have a fluffy appearance and which are ready to receive pollen.

The buttercup family is in a minority of flowering plant families in that the carpels are separate rather than being fused together, which is the case in most families.

For my final picture of the day, I have returned to one of my 'special' insects in the garden, the Bush Crickets. Despite, or perhaps because of the weather, but I could only see two crickets on the Geraniums.

I was trying out a different lens arrangement to get closer (for this and the buttercups) and have been quite pleased with it. This cricket is now about 4mm in length.


A Dunnock made another visit while we were having coffee on the veranda during the late morning. That's two visits in two days - encouraging. On the other hand, I only saw one Goldfinch visit today - not so good.


22 May - A dry start - mainly cloudy with occasional sunshine up to 11am. Various jobs to do today, but I hope to spend a bit of it in the garden.


A breakfast time shot. While we were tucking into our grapefruit and cereal, this ladybird nymph was also having a meal - a greenfly.



Noon brought a 'new kid on the block' in the form of this young Robin that came to feed under the Hawthorn. This was our first sighting for this year and explains why the adult had stopped taking mealworms away in the last week. It's mottled appearance has just the first traces of the red that will develop over the months to come.

Shortly after it left a Dunnock made an appearance, although that remained elusive when I tried to point the camera in its direction.


There is very little solitary bee activity around the bee hotels at the moment (too cold?) but the parasitic species continue to check it out. A Ruby-tailed Wasp was here again this afternoon, and I had my camera handy when this skinny individual arrived.

In the left-hand image it is using its antennae to check out a 7mm hole. In the other image it appears to be egg laying in a 2.5mm hole. A close look at the larger image suggests that its ovipositor is pressed against the top of the hole.

I haven't been able to ID the species using my guides.


23 May - A bright, dry but cool and blustery day. A correction to my diary entry about the BBC' s visit - the program goes out on the 16th June (between 8-9pm, and towards the end of the program), not the 19th as I originally said. For me it's been a weary day so I have spent very little time in the garden.


Periods of sunshine brought out bees, including this visitor to one of the Oxeye Daisies.




Done on the Geraniums I could only see one cricket today, but there was also this midge(?) hat appeared to be feeding, although I couldn't get a good angle to photograph its head in detail.



This tiny bug was running around on the top of the water butt.




Finally, the skies above mybitoftheplanet are always occupied, if not by birds then by the aircraft going to and from the numerous airfields around us or travelling along the flight corridors that pass over us.

On sunny days we sometimes see the Sparrowhawk circling high above us in thermals, but this afternoon a different sort of sharp eyed hawk spent a long time flying orbits at very low altitude, passing over us quite a few times.

It is the spotter aircraft used by Hampshire Police, and you can see its 'eye' beneath the nose.



24 May - A mainly bright afternoon after a damp morning, still blustery but milder than yesterday.

We are faced with a puzzling turn of events over our Blackbirds. Yesterday evening all was well, with the female sitting on the eggs and the male singing in the trees. However, she was not on the nest first thing this morning and not returned to it all day. I must assume that she has either come to grief or abandoned the nest. All five eggs are still there, undamaged, and there is no evidence that either the nest itself or the plants around it have been damaged, so I rule out any sort of raid on the nest. I cannot see any feathers around the garden to suggest that she has been caught by a Sparrow Hawk or cat, at least not in our garden. I haven't seen a hawk here for some time, but I did have to deal with two cats in the garden this morning, one of which is a known killer of birds.

During the morning (when the weather was gloomy) the male was quiet, but he has resumed his singing this afternoon, as though nothing has changed.

The most puzzling aspect of all this is the appearance of a juvenile Blackbird this morning.

It has wasted no time in making itself at home here, feeding under the Hawthorn, seeing off juvenile Starlings as it did so, bathing in the birdbath, and foraging along the path while I was fully visible not far away. It has been reappearing at intervals all afternoon.

Just before I took this picture of it, an adult female made a brief appearance near the youngster, but she flew up into the trees as soon as she saw me.

Could it have been the female that 'owns' the nest or could we be seeing some territorial take-over in progress?


25 May - A warm, sunny day most of which we spent preparing our caravan for our Cornwall trip. The young Blackbird was here frequently, and an adult female also appeared, feeding nervously under the Hawthorn. Sadly, there has been no activity at all up at the nest.



I only had a short photography break today, but it was enough to record some 'new' flowers appearing. First, this Wood Avens opened up in the shade of the Burberris bush.

They may be only small, and last less than a day, but these are one of my favourite flowers in the garden.



A much more robust plant is this Sowthistle, growing next to the water butt. Again, each flower is short-lived, closing up by late afternoon.

The first flower actually appeared yesterday, but it had closed up by the time I got round to taking my camera down the garden to record it.



The bamboo by the water butt had a surprise for me in the form of this rather large sawfly(?). It appears to be a species that is similar in overall shape and size to the Hawthorn Sawfly.



It flew from the bamboo and landed on a leaf where a pair of ladybirds were mating.

I'm including this image to illustrate the difference in size between the two species.



The ladybirds were a pair of 14-Spots that were very strongly coloured - more so than others I have seen in the garden this year.



26 May - Another warm, sunny day, but other activities have meant that I have spent little time enjoying the garden. We are about to off for our first Cornish break of the year so there will be a pause in the diary until we return, hopefully with some pictures of Choughs and other Cornish wildlife.

One thing to note today is that the female blackbird appears to be nest building again, although I don't think it is in our garden this time. She appears less nervous now and actually came to feed under the Hawthorn while we sat on the veranda.

Click on the images to see larger versions

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