Thursday, June 07, 2012

Cuckoo spit and fly **** (apologies, couldn't resist)

I wanted to begin this blog entry with the photograph you see below to prove a point more than anything else.
I added the picture to my  flickr photostream recently and was disappointed with how the image looked. I have read complaints of how some images once loaded to flickr look over-sharpened and that's what happened to mine. I've compared the two, side by side and the photo reproduced here is much nicer and truer to the original.

Besides all that, I thought perhaps the folks that don't get to see my flickr photos might enjoy seeing this strange beast?

A Horned Tree Hopper
Having got that off my chest, I'll get down to the business of updating you on what's been happening of late.

This year, as last, we have had Blue Tits nesting in the garden, Also replicating last year, when the time came to fledge, one little runt got left behind.

As you can see from the photo, this tiny thing was way behind the others and didn't even have it's flight feathers.
Last year we managed to get the casualty to the local wildlife rescue home-this time we had a problem though, we wouldn't be able to get to the home (around a 16 mile drive) on the same day.

What to do? This little one looked to be quite a bit less developed than last year's too. We phoned the home and explained and they suggested we try and keep it overnight, and then take it to them the following day.

As for food-we were to feed it on scrambled egg, made with water and feed every half and hour until about 9pm, then begin again at first light.

We hurriedly made-up some food and did manage to persuade it to eat a little, but it needed to be convinced, it wasn't asking as perhaps you'd have expected.
Before its next feed was due we began to worry about its condition-it seemed to be fading away and so resolved to change our plans and make the journey to the wildlife rescue centre after all.

Sadly nature took its course even before we'd readied ourselves for the journey and the little bird passed away. We were so upset but being realistic, it probably didn't have much of a chance.

On a brighter note, there's a happy ending to the next story...

At one of our local ponds I spotted a cat that I've seen hanging around previously (in fact I feel this same cat may have been responsible for the demise of the ducklings from a few weeks ago?) and it was pawing at the ground. As I got closer I thought it might have a small frog or toad.
Once the cat had beaten a hasty retreat, I could see that it was in fact a dragonfly nymph that must have climbed from the water very recently, as it was still quite wet.

A Dragonfly nymph
I wasn't sure if the cat had injured the nymph but resolved to find a quiet spot to re-locate it and hope all would be well-I'd check an hour later.

On my return I found the cat had also made a return visit and there out in the open, upside down, was the nymph.

This time I took it home. We have an old water-filled,butler's sink it the garden and I put the nymph on one of the reeds at its edge.
I wasn't at all convinced that it would survive the cat-battering but at least it would be safe for now.

I kept a watch on it for any signs of the adult dragonfly emerging. I've seen and photographed damselflys emerging and they have done so very shortly after leaving the water-perhaps dragonflies are different in this respect because a full 4 hours passed with nothing to see.

Maybe it was not going to happen and the cat had interrupted the process?
I'd have like to photograph the emergence but we had to go out, and would'nt be back for around 3 hours.

On our return, I was a little shocked to see that it had indeed emerged and was starting to dry its wings and expand the abdomen prior to being able to fly.

It didn't seem to be damaged in any way and continued to get ready to enjoy it's brief, hectic life. By dusk it was just about ready for lift-off. By now though the temperature had dropped and it decided to spend its first night with us.

The following morning it was looking great and I knew that it would be leaving as soon as the sun had warmed it. 

That was exactly what happened as this beautiful, male, Broad Bodied Chaser took to the skies.
A great relief to me and I still marvel at how something as dull and frankly, unattractive as the nymph, can morph into this spectacular insect.


We once lived in a hundred year old, ham-stone built cottage in Somerset, these days however we have a more modern house that boasts the kind of garden most newer properties seem to be afflicted with! A very small-compact-bijou, call it what you will area that limits the possibilities for wildlife.
We've been doing our utmost each year to improve things and encourage nature and at this time of year, we're starting to get more and more creatures either take up residence, or pass through.

Philaenus spumaris-The Common Froghopper may not 'float your boat' but for me, it represents a really nice sight. These little hoppers are now appearing in ever increasing numbers in the garden and with the adults being so variable, with many varied colour forms, they do make interesting subjects to observe.

Add to which, these juveniles or 'nymphs' are responsible for what we all used to call 'cuckoo spit' as kids.

I also found a green tortoise beetle in the garden for the first time this year.
Although this is a somewhat unconventional view of the little critter-it did make me smile and although I did manage shots showing the other side, decided I preferred this one on this occasion.

Lastly for this update I wanted to share this next bit of insect behaviour with you-I'm not sure if it is a reflection on my blog in general but here goes.....

It's a fly taking a dump! Te,he!

By the way, if you're thinking this looks more like a bee than a fly? It is in fact one of the bee-mimicking hoverflies.

Until the next time then...


  1. Hello JJ,
    The differece shows in the Tree hopper. Been looking on the forums on flickr, and there are a lot of unhappy folks out there, oversharpened (macro) and soft focus (landscapes) seems to be the main problems since the re-vamp.Reading through what people have been trying and working on a theory from Mark Johnson about DPI, I tried various things with some shots which I uploaded but kept private. Seems that resizing to 1600x1000pixels ish, depending on photo size and leaving DPI at 350, the shots are coming out much better now when viewed at all sizes on Flickr. My last 3 viewable shots are all that size. Not perfect but a lot better.

    Shame about the Bluetit, sometimes things are just not meant to be, at least you tried to help. As for the frog hopper, I still call it cuckoo spit!
    Enough waffling from me, back to the house work, hopefully get out with the camera when the wind calms down !


  2. Another excellent and informative blog entry! So sad about the Blue tit but at least you gave it the best possible chance!

    The Tortoise beetle shot it stunning! Have I missed it on Flickr?? Great to find one in your garden too!

    Fascinating to see the fly taking a dump too! It's usually so quick!! Love it! :-D

    Maria - Rockwolf

  3. Ooh! Forget to say, brilliant that you rescued the Dragon too! Cracking shots!


  4. Thanks as always Maria. I didn't put the beetle shot on flickr actually.

    Jason: Despite what some folks would have you believe, there's definitely a problem with this at present. I'll try some shots how you suggest and see what happens, thanks.


Please feel free to comment on my blog. I am always grateful for any feedback, good or bad. Commenting should be fast and easy. Just enter your comment in the box, then click on the drop-down box beside 'Comment as'. You can use your Google ID if you have one, or just choose 'Name/URL and enter your name (URL is not needed). You can also just choose anonymous, if you would rather not be identified.

Regards 'JJ'.

If you do experience any difficulties, you can contact me directly from this blog and I will try to help.