Sunday, 15 January 2017

New Year, New Bird(s)

We had been feeding the abundance of squabbling robins on the site, waiting for the magpies to arrive, when we heard a new bird sound.
We were delighted to see a green woodpecker (Picus viridis) in the ash tree.
That's the first one we've seen on the site.
Another new sighting was on the walk to the site today (so I'm sneakily adding it to this post). It was in a playground close to the allotments.
Friends have identified it as a fieldfare (Turdus pilaris). What an attractive looking bird; a member of the thrush family and a Winter UK visitor apparently. It wasn't with other fieldfares but we have seen a lot of other thrushes this Winter - making the most of the many mollusc that were around last year no doubt!
I bet they don't show up for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch at the end of the month though!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Spider and the Fly (and the wasp)

Ok, it's not actually a spider, it's a harvestman (an opilione) but it looks similar... Well, it starts out life with 8 legs. But look at those pincers! (Actually, they're called palps).
This one Dicranopalpus ramosus has lost a couple of legs, it's an escape mechanism. It eats small insects, so welcome to stay on the plot.
This is just a greenbottle fly, but they're so photogenic I couldn't resist posting. The metallic look is so appealing, even if the fly isn't.
And I would call the wasp a friend, of sorts. They keep our greenhouse clear of flies. Though Jamie did get stung yesterday :-(
Here's this one tucking in, whilst holding on with just one leg!
They leave the wings of the poor prey to flutter to the ground as they zoom off to catch their next snack. Fascinating, though grisly, to see!

Monday, 1 August 2016

Wren Calling

We've been watching the wrens for a while now. It seems to have been a good year for them.
This is a photo of its two young from a few days earlier. Sorry to say, it only seems to have one chick now.
This video, I know the vital part (the bird!) is blurred, but turn the sound up. This seems to be the parent searching for its chick, who was actually just a few feet away under some courgette plants! Or perhaps it's a warning signal?

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Common Blue Butterfly

Finally some hot weather and a few more butterflies are being seen on the allotment site. Mostly whites and tortoiseshells but I found this Common Blue (female) enjoying the marigolds in the greenhouse today.
She should be careful in there. We've seen wasps catch butteflies and proceed to eat the body, leaving the wings to fall to the ground :-(
As you can see they're actually a bit prettier when their wings are closed - but there is a blue hue to the body. Looks like a completely different butterfly, but it isn't.
What a beauty!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Soldiers and A Young Robin

An annual visitor, the soldier beetles are on site. They arrived a bit later and in fewer numbers than in previous years, but they're busy trying to make up those numbers.. As usual!
This young robin was hopping on and off the fence to find grubs and spiders, but was oblivious to the fact that we had put a pile of mealworms on the post right beside him! We'd even soaked them in water to make them easier to pick up! Tut, well, the magpies will enjoy them!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Ant Life

This is a sign that one of our compost bins is too dry.
It's full of ants! Black ones I'm pleased to say. There's no movement on the surface unless you poke about a bit and then it comes to life!
A couple of weeks ago it was full of eggs and pupae, but the adult ants went crazy to save them so we left them to it. It looks like they got moved out of sight. I'll revisit it when we start seeing flying ants appear as it could be very interesting!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Caterpillars and a Beady Eye

I found these two today. They were on an overgrown plot - which are very interesting to hang round, but not very welcome on an allotment site!
This is an orange tip butterfly caterpillar. It's long and thin and velvet looking. It generally eats weeds, including red campion that we have on our plot, amongst other wildflowers.
Up close you can see that its legs are darker green - they looked like part of the stem it was standing on when I took the photo.
This is a mullein moth caterpillar.This is pretty small, at an early part of its larval stage, they grow quite large before pupating. As before when I saw one, it's not actually on a mullein plant, but it shouldn't cause a problem to allotment plants.
And here's the beady eye! One of the many magpies on site... Now they are trouble for plotholders - especially sweetcorn growers!