Showing posts with label wildlife. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wildlife. Show all posts

31 Aug 2016

Wildlife Wednesday: Standing room only

Hoverfly on sage

What is that tiny creature?
Is that a Minpin in my garden scaling the heights of a salvia branch? 
Let's take a closer look.

Hoverfly close up

Umm... I'm not sure that helps - the image could benefit from being a tad sharper. I like to think that this looks like a tiny winged Ewok standing perched on the ledge of the salvia flower.  Look how his little feet and hands are firmly planted while he feasts.

I'm fascinated by the tiny kingdom of bugs that visit the garden. Salvia flowers are tiny but deep; I've watched bees grab the flower at the base and drill through the sides to get at the nectar inside. This hoverfly could obviously get what he wanted from an easier route in.

The operation was seamless: a horizontal approach to the target, home in, landing gear down, munch. Perfect. This was one of those moments that I always feel very privileged to witness. Nature is awesome.

Happy Wednesday! 

You probably know this already:
Minpins are tiny people who live at the top of trees in the Forest of Sin, as told in Roald Dahl's last book 'The Minpins'
Ewoks are the forest creatures that help defeat the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars movies.

31 Oct 2013

There's a wallaby in our playground!

A bit of excitement and drama at York Rise this morning. When I opened the kitchen blinds this morning, I wondered why there were people standing around looking into our playground.  As I watched, a wallaby bounded into view! Naturally, I grabbed my camera and rushed downstairs for a closer look.


As far as I can gather, the story goes that it had somehow found its way onto the lower end of our flats very early in the morning, sat around quietly for a while in the gardens and then a group of tenants and workmen carefully herded it into our playground to save it from bolting into the nearby streets and traffic. Luckily the fencing had been replaced a couple of years ago so the area is like a huge secure cage - although at one point, the wallaby tried - and nearly succeeded - to get to freedom under the fence!

While we waited for the RSPCA to arrive, word quickly spread and families with children arrived to stare at this wonder - a wallaby in our playground!!  Better than going to the zoo!  The excitement! As the animal kept mostly to the perimeter fence, we were all able to get a really close up look, which felt like a rare privilege although the creature must have been quite alarmed!

So what was it doing here?  A recent story in our local paper reported a couple of wallabies having taken up residence in Highgate Cemetery, about 10 minutes stroll from where I live.  No-one quite knows how they got there - or even if there's one or two wallabies - but the cemetery managers refused an offer from London Zoo to tranquillize the wallaby and take it away, saying that it was a good tourist attraction and they were keeping it in a secure place.  Hmm, not that secure it would seem!

The editor of our local paper, Dan Carrier, lives just around the corner so he also hotfooted it around to get the scoop for his paper - and, in the process, got involved in helping to keep the wallaby in the playground and then helped the RSPCA to unload him safely into the van.

Leigh Summers (RSPCA) and Dan Carrier (CNJ)

Ever the newspaperman, one of the children remarked that Dan was still taking photos with one hand while helping to get the wallaby into the RSPCA van with the other! His full story was up on the CNJ website within the hour with those photos.  Great work, Dan!


Here's the captured wallaby inside the RSPCA van.  He'll be taken to an exotic animal centre near to Heathrow where his future will be decided.

PS. I've just had a visit from ITN who will be covering the story on London Tonight this evening ... and guess who took the video and photos they're going to use?  That'll be me.  *blush*

So much excitement and I still have the Fortnum and Mason Great Pumpkin Carving competition to attend today.  I'll need a lie down after this!

7 Jul 2013

Nature watch


I've been a bit worried by the lack of any ladybird sightings in the garden, possibly another indicator of this year's late arrival of spring.  Normally I'd be seeing them  and the blue/orange larvae on almost every plant well before now.  Certainly, in past years, my fennel  has hosted lots of ladybird activity followed by clusters of bright orange eggs. I've been checking carefully (and certainly before I tidy any trimmings back into the compost) but have seen only one or two ladybirds and no larvae in the entire garden. Until this week ...

The night before last I watched this ladybird making its way from the tips of a broad bean plant down towards a small cluster of black aphids. (I'd squished the rest on the previous evening.)  A solitary ant scuttled around it, biting and attacking, protecting its source of honeydew (the sap from the plant goes through the aphid and out the other end);  the ladybird was forced to retreat rapidly to the top of the plant where I captured this photo.

Having got my image, I then despatched the ant, leaving the ladybird restaurant open for business.

I've since seen several ladybird larvae on the herbs - it's worth growing fennel as this is one of their favourite homes due to the hollow stems in autumn/winter.  In fact, I've just had the good idea of transplanting a couple of the self-sown seedling to the back of the fruit tree border - there's been plenty of aphids on the tips of the fruit trees, both this year and last!

22 Aug 2011

Midday Fox

Fox sunbathing
:: The enemy sleeps ::
This cheeky chap was seen around mid-day in the car parking area next to my block of flats and adjacent to the railway line. I just hope that he's not in need of a siesta after a large lunchtime snack of onions. (I pulled mine up yesterday and left them drying on racks in the garden.)  Although he's probably been chasing pigeons or rabbits.  Best check, anyway.

11 Jun 2011

The Saturday Snap: Wandering Around

Due to the rain, I was back indoors in time for Gardener's World yesterday evening. I don't watch it regularly but last night's was jolly good with Monty in his herb bed, dispensing good advice about which herbs will happily grow together, i.e. get the soil type right, one size does not fit all. I particularly liked how to tell the difference between french and russian tarragon, especially as I've just bought a tiny (labelled-as-french) tarragon plant. Carol Klein pottered around her beautiful garden at Glebe Cottage, gathering seed from Hellebores and taking softwood cuttings from a Black Elder (Sambucus nigra) shrub and honeysuckle. (I didn't know you could do that with hellebores.)  Catch up with it on BBC iplayer.

I've just been outside to see if I could find any seed to gather from the hellebores in the Secret Garden below my windows but, sadly, the rain has made the flowers mushy and all the seeds have already dropped. I'm probably a week too late but I'd hoped to photograph the seeds still attached to the flowers for today's Snap.

Wandering further along the path, some beautiful Hydrangea heads caught my eye, still glistening with the drops of night-time rain showers;  as I rounded into the veg patch, the sun came out from behind a cloud and, although there was a little breeze, I managed to photograph red orach, a yellow ladybird, the unopened centre of a sunflower and honeysuckle rambling through ivy.  All together a very satisfying start to the day but now comes the choice:  which photo to pick for the Saturday Snap?? I think it has to be

Yellow Ladybird

The photo feels so bright and sunny even though there are currently black clouds looming, it's going to be one of my favourites and looks lovely as a desktop background!  If you want to see the others, go to my Flickr page (link on the right).  I'm not sure how this works, but I think you can also download the photo to your own desktop (if you want).

Tomorrow's forecast is for rain ALL DAY so I'm off to put out tubs and containers to catch the water (good for the blueberries) and to get some more seeds sown.  I seem to remember parsley doing particularly well a couple of years ago, sown just before a downpour.

Good gardening everyone!  Caro xx

P.S.  If anyone would like to join me in the Saturday Snap, please leave a link in the comments box.  I'd love to see your photos! xx

11 Jul 2010

Funding opportunity

Just thought I'd flag this one up as I know that many people passing by this way are involved in gardening with kids via schools or other community groups and/or are keen wildlife conservationists.  Unfortunately, this one's only for UK residents (apologies to any overseas readers).

Anyhoo…  The Big Lottery Fund are giving grants between £300 to £10,000 (!) for  "projects that bring local people together to discover, enjoy or protect the wildlife in their local area".  Projects must (and I quote) improve rural or urban environments for people to enjoy and/or get people more active and healthier. Two examples of this might be by encouraging people to take up gardening or go on nature walks, or providing opportunities for children to learn about nature through play.

Anyone who has put such an idea on hold through lack of cash to get started should have a look at the Big Lottery page, here, where there's more information.  There are three rounds, by the way: 21 July, 22 September, 24 November.  You could just get in for July, if you're quick!

~ Couldn't resist adding this last photo - taken on the Isle of Wight ~

P.S.  Many thanks to Harvest, the Brighton and Hove food partnership, for highlighting this valuable opportunity.
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