Painted Lady

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.

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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.

Here today…

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.

Allium – another week on

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.

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The speed at which these changes take place unnoticed by us is truly remarkable. The more you look, the more nature has to give.

 

Morcambe Bay Chimneys

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.

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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.

 

Pied Wagtail

This pied wagtail settled just long enough, at RSPB Leighton Moss, to capture a couple of photographs.

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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!

Robin Juvenile

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.

Allium Revisited

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Mottled Beauty

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.

 

Allium

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!

Canada Goslings

Our walk around Shakerley Mere was interrupted by a family of Canada Geese and goslings slowly making their way across the path. As we have a small dog, and Canada’s are very aggressive when protecting their young, we waited while they crossed.

The 5 goslings were being shepherded by about 7 adult stewards, all assiduously watching over them. Interestingly, the group included two white, so-called Domestic Geese, clearly now wild. So the wider family was cross-species.

There was time to photograph the two heads, very distinctively different.

Both these geese are very common in the UK, particularly Canadas, which have become a pest in some places.

Blue Tits

We were delighted that blue tits used the nesting box we put up last year, even more so when a number of chicks appeared about a week ago. Since then there have been lots of tits on our feeders, some of which would be ‘our’ brood. They are obviously very young when you look at the pictures (double click to enlarge).

Blue tits seem to be present in our garden throughout the year. They like insects and are valuable to gardeners in keeping down populations of aphids.

Jackdaw thieves

The new bird feeder seemed like a good idea, to give greater variety to the newly fledged tits in the area. Easy-to-clean, adjustable size of feeding hole. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, next morning the feeder was empty. After the refill I noticed when glancing out of the window that the feeder was swinging about, and opened the window to investigate. Up flew SEVEN jackdaws and four wood pigeons. I determined to at least get photographic evidence.

The first ‘success’ (featured image) caught a thief in the act of flying away. Not a great photo I will admit, but it explains the swinging, which would of course dislodge seed onto the ground for the pigeons. And here was one awaiting his chance high up.

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Finally, I caught one of the culprits in the act, very dextrously managing to feed from a feeder aimed at much smaller birds.

The jackdaws seem to have given up now, not seen for a couple of days. My theory is that these were newly fledged birds learning their skills. Real adults would not be bothered with such a food source. We shall see.

The old name for jackdaw was simply ‘daw’. I suspect the ‘jack’ was added because that is what their call sounds like.

Cygnets 7

These seven mute swan cygnets presented a pretty sight on the canal at Anderton Country Park yesterday. Here’s the uncropped image showing the parents.

 

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Still fiercely protective, the adults kept a wary eye out out until we were clearly going away.

Why are these swans called ‘mute’? Because they are not very vocal, compared to other swans.

Why are the young called ‘cygnets’? Well ‘cygnus’ is the old Latin name for swan, with ancient Greek origins. So we use the old Germanic-Saxon name ‘swan’ for the adult and the Roman-Greek name ‘cygnet’ for the child. Don’t ask why! It just shows how mixed in we’ve always been with Europe.

Cotinus Raindrops

This red/purple cotinus on our deck (variant rhus cotinus) and its largely spent flowers become particularly attractive just after rain, and we’ve had a lot of rain lately. Not good for most photography, but great for raindrops!

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Rhus Cotinus is also called ‘European smoke bush’, presumably because the large groups of flowers on stems can look a bit like a smoky edging to the plant (see above Wikipedia link).

Note to pedants. No they’re not the actual rain drops, but the varied effect of splashes, joining together, streaming, viscosity, surface tension, etc! That’s why some of the drops are rather large and some are very small.

 

 

Anhinga 2

This anhinga, taken at Brazos Bend Texas State Park in March, is poised, intent, ready to strike.

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According to Wikipedia, the anhinga is also known as a snakebird, American darter, or water turkey. The stance is obviously a bit like that of a cormorant.