A heatwave hits the Dordogne area where we are staying. It is over 30°C, unusual for the time of year, too hot for doing much but swim and cool down. But nature has her ways. By the Vézère river in the deep shade of overhanging trees is a refreshing oasis of green cool calmness.
It was quite a shock to come across this large insect, nearly 2 inches long, in the bathroom during a short stay in Brittany. Insect intruders are quite common, but not usually that big. It is a great green bush cricket (or katydid).
See the remarkably long antennae.
Fortunately there was a glass and piece of card large enough to put over the insect to enable its safe removal from the house.
Buddleia is often called the ‘butterfly bush’, and ours has lived up to its name this summer. This has been a good summer for butterflies compared to recent years, but the numbers are still much less than in some summers of memory.
Peacock butterflies have been particularly evident, with their strikingly attractive mock eyes.
Painted lady butterflies are sometime migrants to the UK. We’ve seen a lot this year, so this must be a bumper year when they come here in large numbers.
These painted ladies were around thistles on local farmland. They have a certain faded grandeur, compared to the vibrant colors of the young, but this is maybe not too surprising considering the long migration.
The other day I was entranced by the pink and yellows of the grasses and flowers on Knutsford’s Small Heath. The fuzzy pink of the grass seeds offsets the yellow of the profusion of dandelions and buttercups. With only smartphone to hand, these were the pictures I took.
Sadly, this beauty is no more. The next day the grass cutters came and all was mown down, a rather dramatic illustration of the transience of nature’s beauty, and of the insensitivity of bureaucratic timetables.
Another week on from my last look, the petals on the now-huge allium flowers are losing or have lost colour and almost faded to nothing. The seed heads are full and bulbous. And still there is that amazing cluster of stems emerging from the apparently lit-up centre.
The speed at which these changes take place unnoticed by us is truly remarkable. The more you look, the more nature has to give.
I love the patterns of sand and water on river estuaries. But sometimes it’s nice to have something of interest in the foreground of a photograph. These chimneys of terraced houses in Silverdale, Lancashire serve just such a purpose.
I prefer the simplicity of the two chimneys in the main image to the six in the featured image, but each has its charm. And what a place to live!
Morcambe Bay is interesting in that five rivers drain into the estuary: rivers Leven, Kent, Keer, Lune and Wyre.
This pied wagtail settled just long enough, at RSPB Leighton Moss, to capture a couple of photographs.
These birds present a neat pattern of shades of black-white-grey; I guess ‘pied’ could be an appropriate description. From the colour, you might think that it could be a so-called grey wagtail, but that actually has a partially yellow underside, making it easily confused with the yellow wagtail, which is even more yellow. Confusing!
At RSPB Leighton Moss I was quite taken by this little bird that provocatively paraded on the footpath before me – clearly an innocent youngster, without fear. It looked vaguely familiar, but the markings suggested something a bit like a dunnock or a yellowy starling.
When I showed the picture to she who knows much more about birds than I do, she immediately identified it as a juvenile robin (European Robin, of course). Yes, it clearly is, when you look at that familiar slant of the beak.
And I always thought robins have red breasts. According to Wikipedia, the orange feathers begin to appear at around 2-3 months old, and the orange/red breast is complete in around twice that time.
It’s only just over a week since my post on Allium. Now the heads of flowers are bigger than my hand. Here are two pictures at the extremes of focus, each with a story to tell.
The petals are beginning to wilt, and the seed heads are forming – three pairs of bulging seeds corresponding to the three pairs of petals/sepals.
The interior focus shows a wonderful pattern of huge numbers of inner stalks that hold up the flowers/seed heads. The light seems to shine out from the centre!
My Panasonic TZ200 has a superb feature that makes this different focusing very simple, even handheld – it’s called post-focus, which takes a number of shots at different focus points and then lets you choose which shots to save.
This small moth, only about 10mm long, appeared in my study window today. This led me to the joys of trying to identify what sort of moth it is. There appear to be many very similar sorts of moth with similar grey mottling. A keyword search came up with this mottled beauty. I don’t know if this is a correct identification, the proboscis looks too long, but this moth certainly has the characteristic of mottled beauty!
Any comment offering a correct identification would be most welcome.
The macro photograph certainly shows levels of dirt hardly visible to the naked eye! So I won’t give an image with full detail. Time to clean in the corners of that window frame.
The beauty of nature is all around. We tried planting allium bulbs in the garden for the first time this year. Late May they were looking promising (see featured image.)
But now look how they’ve now developed – long stems with huge heads, several inches across, comprising gradually emerging flowers with striking geometrical patterns.
Double click for more detail.
I’m intrigued that there are 6 petals on the individual flowers, which is not one of nature’s preferred Fibonacci numbers – but perhaps they are 3 pairs, and 3 is a Fibonacci number.
And if you look at the picture on the left, it’s impossible to count accurately, but there are over a hundred individual stems in the head, each of which will develop a flower. Since the situation is so dynamic you could not expect this to be an exact Fibonacci number, but it’s somewhere on the way between 89 and 144!
Woodpeckers seem to be very elusive birds – often heard but little seen, so I was surprised to see this one on a neighbour’s bird feeder. I quickly took a few zoom photos through the window glass before it flew off.
This is almost certainly a Great Spotted Woodpecker. The red cap shows that it is a juvenile, probably newly fledged – which could explain its relative lack of caution.