Friday, 2 December 2016

October butterflies

Sorry, Red squirrel, even if you do make it into the squirrel feeder later you need to take a step back (or run and a jump in your case) and give other garden wildlife a chance to shine today. Yes, you gave me your most funny face yet, yesterday. I know. I got photos too. You watched me take them. Perhaps if you had drunk out of the small pond waterfall trickle when I was inside at my window, where the camera was, instead of creeping up behind me when I was a few feet away making it easier for you to access your feeder... just saying ;-)

Back at the beginning of October it was the Painted lady I was following with my camera. Yes, there were more than the usual numbers of Peacock and Red admiral butterflies then too, but there was just something about the Painted lady that drew me more. Although the weather then saw winds, there were plenty warm sunny days and the butterflies fed well on Verbena bonariensis! Yes, these plants really earned their garden border space this year :-)

OCT 2: Peacock butterfly with tatty, worn wings feeding on verbena bonariensis.
One of many October blue skies and sunny days for butterfly sightings :-)

OCT 2: Red admiral butterfly in partial shade of border plants.
Plant supports helped keep stems of verbena bonariensis up after winds.

OCT 2: Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies navigated the blowing stems.
Tricky to ID when early morning sunlight lights through their wings.

Photographing butterflies is tricky at the best of times, but with considerable plant growth in the borders in October there was much in the way to even see them, without winds. It was fortunate for me that at this time there was seldom just one butterfly, so their movement through the plants caught my attention.

Where worryingly other bloggers reported poor numbers of butterflies this year, we were certainly very lucky here. I’m not saying we had huge numbers, but it was best collection for a few years. They were a joy to see and the draw to stand outdoors with a camera was difficult to shake.

Migrating butterflies like the Painted lady butterflies are long gone. Now, in the first few days of December, our temps are cooling with each day and decorations for Christmas are coming out. I'd like to share what decorated my sunny front garden back in the first few days of October and my last garden butterfly records of the Painted Lady for 2016. She was the last to leave this year :-)

OCT 4: Painted lady feeding on shorter Verbena bonariensis 'Lollipop'.
The orange of the background Californian poppies highlight her orange shades.

OCT 4: Painted lady feeding on lavender, very well camouflaged.
Only when it moved did I notice it there, I’ve never seen this before :-)

OCT 4: Painted lady resting on the white rose, Silver Anniversary.
I’d never associate this delicate butterfly with a rose or cotoneaster berries.

OCT 4: Painted lady feeding on lavender, again and again it fed here.
This is what drew me outdoors to stand with my camera :-)

OCT 4: New - butterflies feeding on lavender not something previously seen.
This high, path strip was a serious buzz of bees back in October :-)

OCT 4: Close views like this were only possible due to raising the border edge.
This was a deliberate height of planting for feeding bees and photography :-)

OCT 4: The lavender swayed back and forth, I loved the blurred purple.
It was hard to see where the Painted lady was at times, fun though :-)

OCT 4: Painted lady demonstrating it’s the small flowers of the lavender
that make this plant such a great food source for pollinating insects :-)

Mmm… tasty food sources… I guess this weekend I’ll need to give some serious thought to menus for over the Christmas period. It’s too early for decorations in this household but ok, you’ve twisted my arm… I’ll end with a splash of seasonal, garden red…

DEC 1: Red squirrel record shot from yesterday. I kid you not, as I uploaded this image the red squirrel has returned and is currently outside my window feeding again! It has also jumped on the roof of the squirrel feeder… getting warmer :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in December 2016.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Garden video gold

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in November 2016.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Red squirrel number doubles!

It’s fair to say that when a bird, butterfly, damselfly or in this case the red squirrel visits the garden, unless there is more than one at any given time or a distinctive difference in its appearance (like partial albino or missing feathers) you have no idea if it is the same individual returning.

Having never seen a Red squirrel, ever, in my garden until the beginning of the month I never remotely considered there could be more than one visiting. Until late last night that is! Expecting more than one would be just pure greed wouldn’t it?

Keen to publish as many of blog posts as I can before the end of the year, browsing photo folders, I discovered a few red squirrel photos (taken only as quick, hand-held record shots by the look of the focussing in them). Blurry photos are easy captures with red squirrels when they move so fast.

Very fortunate it was then, that I hovered ever so slightly over my PC mouse before clicking delete. Something caught my eye in these blurry and rather heavily orange toned, red squirrel captures. The date revealed they were taken the next day after we were witness to a red squirrel running around the garden stashing peanuts - expecting it to return would be no surprise.

Just four shaky photos confirmed two red squirrels have visited the garden this month. Actually, within two days. Wow, November 19th saw shirls gardenwatch reach ten yrs old and what a reward this is! That is just fantastic news. Now, I will photograph every red squirrel I am fortunate enough to see and compare markings and colouring :-)

It’s time for introductions now…

Nov 16th: The red squirrel that stashed peanuts in every border of the garden.
For winter (snow) I stashed part of our pruned rowan tree trunk in a border
as a perch for birds. I could never have imagined a red squirrel would use it :-)

Nov 17th: Red squirrel No.2 with colouring more orange. I failed to edit tones to match so clearly they don’t. A closer look half way along its back reveals the biggest difference and confirmation they are at least two indiviuals visiting.

Nov 17th: Red squirrel No.2 side view showing bare area of body fur on back.
I am guessing a left over from moulting. Perhaps it’s my imagination, but this individual looks less confident about its head suggesting it could be young.

Nov 16th: The stashing peanut red squirrel again for comparison.
After much searching this photo shows best available like for like view.
There are both dark and blonde tones in the tail of this individual too.

So there we have it, November 2016 gets the award for the best blog month out of ten years’ gardenwatching! It’s still got one more day to go yet too and this lunchtime, from my gardenwatch window, a large group of Redwings and Fieldfares were spotted in the distant tree again. The likelihood of being at home at the right time tomorrow , should they descend to my garden apple offering, is very low. But never say never :-)

Ah yes, I shouldn’t forget to add that I did see on twitter last night that Waxwings were seen a few streets away yesterday lunchtime! They were most likely passing by en route south, but fantastic to think they have been in the area too. I’m not being greedy with them either, they are quite special winter visiting birds too. I’ll be happy to just see them in the distant tree where the Redwings perch :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in November 2016.