Friday 16 March 2018

7-spot Ladybirds - a Seasonal First

I could feel the warmth of the sun coming through the glass earlier this afternoon, and went outside to find three Ladybirds in the back garden and two more by the front door. I was thinking this was fairly early for them to be scuttling about until I saw that my first sighting two years ago had been on 3 March 2016.

What a beautiful 7-spot! 

Once again, our region here in the 'far east' of the UK 
is expecting heavy snow over the next couple of days, 
so I am not sure when I will see the next Ladybirds on the move. 

Meanwhile, enjoy the weekend, whatever the weather...

Thursday 15 March 2018

Queen of the Spring

I have been on the look-out for early insects, and feeling the warmth of the sun through a glass panel yesterday afternoon, went outside just in case there were any Ladybirds emerging from the places they tend to over-winter. I guess it is still a bit early and cold, though I see I had come across a Brimstone and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly by this time last year. However, making her way slowly up the door frame was this beautiful Queen Bumblebee. Queens, I have discovered, hibernate in the earth on their own. When they wake up they need to feed, and find a suitable nesting site. You can read about the Queen bee here on the Bumblebee Conservation Trust site.

I enlarged my photo on Photoshop to see the details. I also lightened it to help me see anything I might have missed. Those little golden speckles on the wing, presumably of pollen, caught my eye. Bees make particularly good pollinators because not only do they have specific pollen sacks, but small particles of pollen are carried on their bodies as a whole.

There are not many flowers in our garden yet. We have a few Polyanthus, a couple of small Iris, a lingering Snowdrop, yellow Viola (like small Pansies), a number of Daffodils and a couple of Daisies. It's a lovely to think that buds are beginning to burst - though I gather we may be due for more snow before the weekend is out, and 'just up the road' in Norfolk, there have been sightings of a magnificent female Snowy Owl.


Looking at the daffodils in this photo makes me feel we should be trying to buy plants in more environmentally-friendly pots next time. What a challenge for garden centres to switch from polystyrene and plastic to recycled, recyclable or biodegradable plant containers. Has anyone come across an outlet that is committed to doing just that? 

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Hole for a Vole?

Snowdrops and Crocus, St Mary's churchyard, Martlesham

Sunday afternoon was dark, wet and cold. We decided to go in search of a bit of colour in the form of the spring flowers that we guessed would be peaking in St Mary's churchyard. The area perches above Martlesham Creek and the River Deben, and has lovely views on a sunny day. The snowdrops were just past their best, but still giving a good show. The crocuses were a bit bedraggled by the rain, but the overall picture was one of beauty as you can see.

St Mary's is one of many churches in this area with flint-facings. Grimes Graves, the neolithic flint mine site, is a two-hour drive away or thereabouts, and a place we have often visited. You can read more about the use of flint in East Anglia in this EDP article here

There had been rather a lot of rain. At one point, in among the purple crocus heads...

... we found a single golden flower.

There were a few primroses, looking a bit the worst for wear, but nonetheless a joy to see on a dreary afternoon.

David stopped me in my tracks at this point with a quick nudge. 
I looked and there peeping out of this hole just in front of a gravestone,
30 cm from the church path, was a round rodent head with beady eyes. 
Sadly it retreated the (split-)second it saw us. 

We stood back and waited for a while, but it did not reappear. 
I took a quick photo with my zoom lens and we left the little creature in peace.

I looked up rodent holes on the web once we were back home, 
and I suspect the rodent was a vole.
The churchyard prides itself on its wildlife,
and since the birds were making themselves extremely scarce that day,
it was good to feel that we had seem something truly wild.


P.S. You can see a vole hole here.
For those undertaking a survey, 
a coin certainly helps to give a sense of scale,
if placed without causing a disturbance. 

Monday 5 March 2018

Mystery pawprints left by the Beast from the East

Although we live in a suburban area, we have seen (largely Muntjac) deer on occasions making their way across the roads or down the footpaths. We have never seen a deer in our garden.

I peered outside on Saturday and saw these strange prints. Reason tells me they belong to visiting cats, but they have a distinctive hoof print feel about them with that rim around the edge. However, when I looked up deer tracks, they did not seem to match. If they are feline paw prints, I guess the snow must have melted in a particular kind of way. I wonder what you think...

Thursday 1 March 2018

Winter Wonderland for St David's Day

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!
When we lived in Swansea I remember wondering whether our Daffodils would be in flower for 1st March. Sometimes we saw small Daffodil buds at Aberglasney as early as November, a fact I find hard to believe these days. I suspect the milder climate in South Wales has something to do with this, but there may be other factors to consider such as global warming and the species of Daffodil bulb.

Like the Grey Squirrel photo below, the picture above was taken in our Suffolk garden yesterday: I fear today's snow will have covered up the Daffodil stem by now.