Friday, 30 June 2017

#30DaysWild day 30 - A finale of frog orchids, fritillaries and fantastic views

For the last day of 30 Days Wild I decided to go and hunt for the frog orchids on Watlington Hill.

Beautiful views from the top of the hill looking out over Oxfordshire
The frog orchids aren't big and showy like many of the other orchids, and they're hard to spot as they blend into the grass so well, but that just makes it even more exciting to actually find one.

Their colour varies from red (in drier conditions) to light green (in damper conditions). They don't look very much like frogs, but you could maybe see a frogs body with it's long legs dangling below and behind it.

This one had a bug on it, which I believe is a type of mired bug called
calocoris roseomaculatus

As I walked around, I saw lots of butterflies including marbled whites, meadow browns, small heaths and small skippers. I also saw 3 dark green fritillaries bombing about and was lucky enough to get a photo of one that had settled for a few seconds.

Dark green fritillary

Marbled white
A green woodpecker flew past me, with its distinctive undulating flight. Then a mistle thrush (I think?) bounced around on the slope below me.

From my vantage point on the top of the hill, the red kites were soaring around me and in some cases below me, giving me a unique view of them from above.

A wonderful way to end 30 Days Wild!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

#30DaysWild day 29 - Feeling sluggish

The recent damp weather has bought the slugs and snails out of hiding. We counted 24 on our short walk to school this morning, then I found these two monster slugs in the back garden.

They had such beautiful markings and were really quite big, but I would prefer not to have them living in amongst my lettuces, so I moved them out of harms way to the nettle patch. I believe they're green cellar slugs.
Instead of a shell, they have a leathery patch called a mantle shield.  The hole in this shield is called the pneumostome and acts as the slug's breathing pore or nostril.  Like most slugs, they have two pairs of feelers on their head.  One pair detect light, while the lower pair are used for smell or possibly taste.
The pneumostome on the right hand side of the mantle
As for this evening, Bug Mad Girl has gone kayaking with the guides. She left the house wearing a wet suit, so I suspect there may be some wild swimming in the Thames tonight!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

#30DaysWild day 28 - As right as rain

The weather has mostly been wonderful for 30 Days Wild this year, but it looks like the last few days may be a bit damp and dreary. As the rain will do the garden the world of good, I braved the drizzle and went out to take some 'drippy' photos and see what I could find out there.

Droplets of water on the teasels made them look like they were sparkling
Lady's mantle has to have the best rainy day leaves
The garden is full of huge hollyhocks, which are just starting to flower. They come in all colours and are lovely and cheerful on a dreary day.


I even found a little bug sheltering from the rain inside one of the flowers.

Other insects were carrying on regardless of the rain and didn't seem to care about it.
7 spot ladybird in our 'wildflower meadow'
Soldier beetle
Gang of tiny caterpillars on the nettle patch 

The front garden is full of very tall yellow scabious, which the bees absolutely
love, even when it's wet.


The rain has finally filled up the pond, which was looking very low for a while. It's full of wriggly mosquito larvae at the moment!

Elsewhere in the garden, the rain promises good things to come!

 And finally, a bit of sunshine to brighten up the day!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

#30DaysWild day 27 - Getting stuck in

We're down to the last few days of 30 Days Wild and we've had so much fun getting stuck into all things wild ... almost as much as this soldier beetle that I met on my walk around Pulpit Hill and Grangelands this morning.

Bottoms up!
It was a bit of a dreary, drizzly morning, but there were still clouds of meadow browns and marbled whites flitting amongst the flowers, mostly refusing to settle for a picture.

A marbled white that settled for a few seconds
There were also several small skippers, which are such delicate little butterflies and much more obliging when it comes to having their photo taken!

Small skippers

Small skipper
 I also saw my first few ringlets of the year and a small heath.
Then I climbed up to the top of Pulpit Hill, admiring the view across the Chilterns to the Vale of Aylesbury on the way.

I stumbled across a beautiful patch of foxgloves, growing in a clearing in the trees.

The trail of dots acts like runway lights, leading the bees into the flower to the nectar at the back of the tube. The bee rubs against the pollen in then narrow end of the tube, then transport it to the next flower to pollinate it.

The little hairs on the lip of the flower are designed to put smaller insects off entering the tube, as they'd be too small to rub against the pollen inside.

Another lovely morning!

Monday, 26 June 2017

#30DaysWild day 26 - Watching the back garden birds

We moved house earlier this year and we were all a little worried that our new back garden wouldn't have the amazing variety of birds that we had in our old house. By putting out lots of different types of feeder, it didn't take very long at all to realise that this garden was just as good. All sorts of little characters visit us on a daily basis and now we're seeing all their babies around the garden as well.

The blue tits and great tits have each been bringing their two fledglings to the feeders. To start with they would sit in the apple tree, making an awful racket, demanding to be fed by the adults. Now they seem to be getting the hang of feeding themselves though and join the parents on the feeders.

Great tit family

Blue tit family

Blue tit family
By comparison, the goldfinches are quiet and subtle, flying onto the nyger seed feeder and showing their baby how to pick the seeds out of the little holes in the side. Such dainty little birds.

Goldfinch adult and baby

Goldfinch baby
We've had a few unusual visitors today as well First a greenfinch, which we hardly ever seem to see, spent some time eating sunflower hearts. Then a great spotted woodpecker flew into the apple tree and stayed for a couple of minutes. It's always a thrill to see a woodpecker in the garden.



Terrible photo, but there is a great spotted woodpecker in there!

Again, not a great photo, but it's definitely in there!
We don't seem to have many sparrows around the garden, which is a real shame as we used to love seeing our funny sparrow family. I occasionally see one for a few minutes, but they're not regular visitors at the moment. Maybe they'll move in though when they realise the feeders are always full.

Finally, the woodpigeons have a nest in a neighbours tree, which is just next to our patio. I watched today as two crows were eyeing up the nest, probably after an easy lunch. I thought the nest would be doomed as there were two big crows against one pigeon, but the plucky parent took them on and defended her nest.

Two crows plotting!
Oh no you don't! Woodpigeon chases off one of the crows

Back for another go. The crow was trying to play it cool, but the
woodpigeon knew what it was up to.

Get lost crow! Chases the crow off again
For now at least she has seen them off! What a great parent!