Archive for June, 2013

Bert the caterpillar

June 30, 2013 8 comments
Bert before he even woke up this morning

Bert before he even woke up this morning

I don’t know why I think of this swallowtail butterfly caterpillar as Bert, not being one to anthropomorphise wild creatures around me as a rule.

After cutting down a fennel plant that was poking through a rose, I found Bert hiding on the lower fronds.

I broke off his frond and introduced it into a living plant, but not being the brightest button in the box Bert hasn’t moved over yet.

He’s a bit more evident in his new location so I hope he won’t make a snack for a passing bird.

I’ll try to keep my eye on him.

Bert munching still on his old frond

Bert breakfasting on his old frond


More sunshine

June 29, 2013 Leave a comment


According to the weather forecast, it’s possible summer may be returning tomorrow or thereabouts.

Irish fleabane (why Irish?)

Irish fleabane (why Irish?)

After a daily thunderstorm for several days, we were beginning to have doubts about our usually reliable July.

But the plants never lose faith.

Here are a couple of especially sunny flowers which I came across while accompanying Chokri as he strimmed.

I’ve been following my usual practice of trying to save the more unusual plants and the best and brightest blooms, but it isn’t always possible.

We just can’t let him go

June 28, 2013 6 comments
Kepler in days gone by tied to a broom bush while I took his photo

Kepler, on a walk in days gone by, tied to a broom bush

The saga of Kepler’s re-adoption continues.

The Veterinary Section of the Social Services phoned me on Wednesday saying they’d received the necessary documentation from Kepler’s new owner to at last transfer him over officially.

I went there this morning, Friday.

The lady in the office suddenly noticed that there was no identification for the new owner attached to the form, even though the form demanded it, and therefore the transfer couldn’t be done.

What was more, the new owner who already has 5 or 6 dogs couldn’t be found on the computer register.

It turned out to be something to do with the computer not recognising second first names.

In the end it was agreed I wouldn’t have to come in again and the office lady would sign on my behalf.

In the meantime, Kepler remains our responsibility (6 months down the line from having handed him over) but if anything were to happen she will bear witness to the situation.

That was the best I was going to get.

Sitting pretty

June 27, 2013 4 comments
Cricket on pink rose 3

Cricket peeping round a pale pink rose

One of my favourite subjects for photography is an insect on a flower.

Small cricket on a flax flower

Small cricket on a flax flower

Preferably, of course, an insect that isn’t harming the flower in some way like eating it.

These are 3 tableaux from the last few days.

Praying mantis about to open its wings and fly off a rose leaf

Praying mantis about to open its wings and fly off a rose leaf

Cherry thieves

June 26, 2013 3 comments


Durone di Cesena cherries - staple diet of golden orioles

Durone di Cesena cherries – staple diet of golden orioles

I have no actual evidence but I think it was golden orioles that stole our cherries.

They’ve been audible for days, making their musical ‘tiddly-oo’ call in the trees.

They sound quite near but despite looking hard for them I’ve only ever glimpsed one once. It was so striking – a male, yellow all over except for black wings and tail – that it looked unnatural, as if it ought to have been in a tropical forest.

Yesterday we went out for an hour or so and in that time all the cherries which I’d hoped to nurse to ripeness completely vanished.

A few were left on the ground, with stalks snapped through, and one or two were obviously inaccessible even to an acrobatic bird.

This was our best cherry crop ever (I speak comparatively) and we did get a few but they’re a lot nicer ripe.

It would be just like those orioles to deny us even the sight of them in the orchard. The jays and crows are more blatant which is why this time they’re not my number one suspects.

The orioles will be eating the wild cherries now, with their beady eyes on the nectarines …

Marbled white butterfly

June 25, 2013 2 comments

In the heat of the day, plagued with little bloodsucking flies, I was accompanying Chokri as he strimmed and cleared one of our paths.

Meantime, light as air, the sun illuminating their mottled wings, marbled white butterflies were dancing from one scabious flower to another.

They must have sucked each bloom nearly dry. It wasn’t one sip and gone, but a systematic progression across the florets, angling themselves for best efficiency.

When I looked them up to check my identification, I was intrigued to read that they’re one of the very few butterflies on which the upper and underside markings are almost identical.

Also, the female doesn’t bother to attach her eggs to plants; she just drops them while flying!

Face on

Face on

Classic pose

Classic pose

Digging deep

Digging deep

Loaves and fishes

June 24, 2013 Leave a comment
Gooseberry jam and white currant jelly

Gooseberry jam and white currant jelly

A few hot, prickly afternoons went into picking white currants and gooseberries and further hours stripping and top-and-tailing.

From which came 5 small jars of gooseberry jam (reasonably enough), and 2 small jars of precious white currant jelly.

The white currants were extremely plentiful this year and in their raw state filled 3 ice cream tubs, so what happened? Isn’t this the miracle of the loaves and fishes in reverse?

No, because the white currant pulp was a major ingredient in 4 moist and delicious cakes!

White currant and sultana cake

White currant and sultana cake