Tag Archives: hummingbird hawk moth

And Again!

Sorry about last night. I didn’t have a lot of time between returning home from seeing my Dad and setting off to take Number Two Son to work. In between the two events I ate tea, shouted at TV, lost my sense of humour and realised that I only had fifteen minutes to write a post. I do have a little time after getting back from dropping him off, but it can be a bit touch and go. I will try not to let it happen again.

Unfortunately, the gardens have been attacked again. All the plants that escaped destruction last time have been tipped over, crushing seedlings and losing seeds, including seeds bought by individual members of the group. A lemon tree, which has been growing in a pot for several years has been smashed to pieces, all the drawers searched, screws, nails and tools thrown around and Feathers McGraw has been dismantled again. They also damaged the plastic in the door this time.

The group members are upset, perplexed and annoyed. The police are doing their best. Julia has been preparing a press release, hoping to get some support and possibly donations, but she’s been told not to by her boss, and even banned from putting anything about the attacks on their private Facebook group.

This has put the start of the growing season back by a couple of months. Thank goodness we hadn’t moved the new cacti and succulents down to the gardens.

On the plus side, they sighted Brimstones, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Hummingbird Hawkmoths.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

We’ve entered the sighting on the Butterfly Conservation sightings page – there are 84 for the UK this year, and three in the area (Burton, Derby and Ripley), or 85 and four, after ours.

Sorry it’s a poor photo, but it’s the best I have, and I prefer to use my own when I can.

A Painted Lady Comes to Call

I’ve had a few problems with WordPress today, including the complete loss of a post. This was annoying as I’d spent a significant amount of time looking for links and photos.

Julia picked plums in the early afternoon and saw a Painted Lady in the garden – another first for the garden. Added to the Small Copper and Hummingbird Hawk Moth we saw earlier in the year it’s all coming together nicely.


When we left home to do some errands this afternoon we spent a few minutes watching the front garden and were rewarded by two small brown butterflies hustling past in the swirling wind, then a larger one, which proved to be a Painted Lady. It took some photographing, as it was quite skittish and there was a stiffish breeze once it left cover.

We’re not doing too badly for butterflies in the garden, partly due to looking a bit more than usual and partly due to a good showing of Red Valerian. We’ve also had Mint Moths on the marigolds, which is a first, as I’ve always seen them on mint or oregano before.

As for the plums, Julia has picked over 200. As usual, it’s a case of picking them when ripe and then using them quickly before they start to go over. We’ve given some to Angela Across the Road, who gave us figs and tomatoes in return. We’ve also given some to the Young Couple Next Door, because they give us cake.

I’m going to make sure we feed the tree properly next year, and ensure the pruning is done properly. I’ve been a bit slapdash with pruning recently and it’s turning into a biennial bearer. This is my fault, not the tree’s. If the feeding works it should fruit moderately next year, which will take some of the vigour out of it for the year after. If not, it looks like I’ll have to remove fruit buds two years from now.

I think this all started about six years ago when we had a bad spring that killed all the blossom. The next year was a bumper year due to all the stored energy and the one after that we didn’t harvest any fruit at all. I should have got on top of it when we had the first bumper year, instead I added neglect to the problem by letting the pruning slip by.

We are having Plum and Apple Crumble for tea.

All in all this has been a good day.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Do you recall me mentioning Hummingbird Hawk Moths a couple of posts ago?

Well, by coincidence, on my return from shopping this morning, I noticed something large flitting about in the red valerian of the front garden. I’m pleased about this as we didn’t see any last year.

You don’t see much red valerian in Nottingham, and I’m not sure where this came from. The nearest patch is about 400 yards away, around the corner. After that the nearest is over a mile away, and I don’t know where the next lot is. Ours just started growing one spring, sprouting from cracks between the paving in the garden.

In Northamptonshire it sometimes seems to take over entire villages, but the south seems to suit it better. Despite being here since the 1600s it is really a Mediterranean plant. Ours has shifted colour over the years – it was all a deep wine red originally but about half of it is now a lighter red. I’m told it can be invasive, but it hasn’t been a problem so far. I’ve been expecting to see more of it in the street over the years, but ours doesn’t seem to have much in the way of territorial ambition.

I may have to help it along.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

The pictures are not good, but they give the general idea.

The bees and hoverflies were about too, though not easy to photograph as the flowers were in the way.

Later, having got the food in the fridge I went shopping again, and sat in the car watching the wildlife when two butterflies came by. The Small White dawdled a bit, sampling flowers, but the small blue one hardly paused. I’m tentatively identifying it as a Holly Blue as there’s holly and ivy around in the gardens. The Common Blue likes grassland and there’s not much of that around here.

P7231507.jpg

Bee on Red Valerian

It’s not going to solve the problems of Global Warming or bring about World Peace, but it was nice to see and cheered me up.

Gotcha!

It’s a bit of a blur, but I finally got my shot of the hummingbird hawk moth.

It was quite a cool morning and we only had weak sun so I was a bit surprised when Julia shouted from the front garden to tell me it was in the garden.

Luckily, as we were packing the car at the time, I had my camera to hand. It would have been better if we’d had the Canon to hand but you can’t have everything.

Does anyone know if they fly in cooler weather? I’ve seen four this year – two of the other three sightings were in the evening as things were cooling down. The fourth was in the polytunnel, where it kept flying at my head – I’m thinking this probably isn’t typical behaviour.

The length of the tongue is amazing, and makes you marvel at the accuracy as they flit around feeding from small flowers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It keeps getting better!

Well, there will be no more pictures of wildlife on the giant thistle because we’ve been ordered to cut it down.

Isaac Newton, who was born around here,stated that to every force there is an  equal and opposite reaction (I paraphrase slightly – what he actually said was A”ctioni contrariam semper et æqualem esse reactionem: sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse æquales et in partes contrarias dirigi.” but I’m close enough).

He never married but despite that seems to have given a fair summing up of what happens when a married man gets it in the neck from his beloved. The farmer’s torrid time on Saturday translated into a miserable Monday morning for us. The thistle must die and biodiversity must suffer.

In truth we were going to cut it down and use the space for winter veg anyway, but it’s the principle.

Otherwise we’ve had a productive day in the garden, preparing some of the raised beds for brassicas. It has to be the raised beds because they will be easier to net against pigeons.

We’ve also done a butterfly count – 11 small tortoiseshells, 3 Large  Whites, 3 Peacocks, 1 Comma and 1 Meadow Brown. It may have been the same Comma I spotted last time – it was on the same bush. The tortoiseshells were out in force, as you can see, and I’m fairly sure I undercounted them because they kept moving.. There were plenty of nice fresh specimens and a couple of really washed out pale examples. For some reason I identify with them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s good to see the Comma around again – we’ve seen them in the lane before but never in the garden area. Now I just want to tempt some of the Common Blues down here.

Finally, we have completed one of the small wildlife ponds. It’s a washing up bowl with 2″ of washed gravel in the bottom (if you’ve seen pictures of the cafe area you’ll know where we got the gravel from!). There are two broken bricks inside to act as a step and some bits of stone, brick and concrete around the outside. It’s not pretty but it’s a start. We’ve been promised some plants so once we have them in place it should look less stark. Total outlay – £1.60. The next two will just be £1 each, which is even better.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And just as I was going, we spotted the Hummingbird Hawk Moth. I’d seen one on Sunday, trapped in one of the polytunnels, but it had been very fast and frantic and I’d had very poor views. The more leisurely one tonight was browsing on buddleia and gave us much better views, so I’m now confident in claiming it. It was still too fast for the camera though.