Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Butterfly bliss

Late August, and we have a good selection of nectar bearing plants at their peak:  Sedums, Russian Sage, Verbena and Catmint are all excellent for hoverflies, bees and butterflies.

Silver Washed Frit. ( with matching food plant!) (c.OOS)

We had our first Silver washed Fritillary last week, a lovely insect that remained with us for a half hour or more. 

Constantly present are the Small and Large White butterflies, easier to admire these when you dont have a crop of brassicas to protect!

Green Veined White (?) (OOS)

Large White on Verbena (c.OOS)

A Small Copper out on the lawn made it a nice weekend for watching and photographing insects, though birds are beginning to come back to us in numbers: 
Small Copper (c.OOS)
Chaffinches are flocking around here since excess grain from the harvest spills over on every corner.  We still have late nesters: a Wood Pigeon has a nest with well grown young located in a Cypress tree, demonstrating a use for a much maligned tree species.

Young Wood Pigeon, sitting tight (c.OOS)

 Swallows are doing well everywhere with first and second broods gathering in noisy mixed flocks:  the ones in the photos below are well advanced and are located inside the Pat Walsh hide on the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve..

How could you refuse! (c.OOS)

Swallow nest (c.OOS)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Fruit to Go

Mid August, time to look back and assess the growing season.. Soft and Hard fruit showed a big improvement on last years disastrous outturn.  Raspberries, Strawberries and Blackcurrants were all good, though only the last mentioned made it into the kitchen and safely preserved into clear glass jars, a treat to spread on cold mornings ahead.

Rowan blossom, late May (c.OOS)

Because I neglected to cover the ripening soft fruit from eager Blackbirds and others, we never really got to see or feel the ripe Strawberries and invariably a Blackbird was in attendance around the Raspberry bushes.. I will cover most of them with netting, next year, though the very hot spell meant that Blackbirds and Thrushes found it hard to access insect prey from parched ground, so fruit was a useful alternative for them, at least!

Our remaining cultivated fruit to harvest is a good crop of Apples from 2 trees that are only 15 months or so in the ground but in a warm sheltered position in the garden and free from damage from deer or others.

Juvenile Blackbird gets down to business (c. OOS)

Right now, the birds attention, especially Blackbirds, is with wild fruit.  The autumn procession has started with Rowan, progressing from creamy white blossom in late May to scarlet red berries, colour deepening by the day.  The crop is already being picked by a gingery coloured juvenile Blackbird: their favourite August food apparently; I doubt if there will be a berry left come September!  I am always amazed how long the berry crop lasts on Rowans grown in more urban situations: they are a favourite food of Waxwings in late winter, indeed a failure of the rowan drop in northern Europe triggers nomadic wanderings and irruptions for a number of northern European species.

Speaking of wanderings, we often notice a 'fall' of Willow Warblers on damp or misty mornings, the migration is on, and its always nice to follow the activity in the willows trees, the warblers show great agility in picking off insects  from under leaves, always on the move, calling each other along from tree to tree.

Willow in the Willows (C.OOS)