Thursday, March 28, 2013

6 Million trees but no murmuration....

I have to start this blog update with a warning that I have felt compelled to make a change to comments on my blog. I have been spending increasing amounts of time deleting spam posts of late and in light of this, I have re-set the comment box to needing approval before publishing.

You need to do nothing and can (and hopefully, will) continue to comment as normal but there will be a small delay in the comment appearing on my blog whilst I approve. I hope this'll be a temporary measure and apologise for any inconvenience.

Okay...the boring stuff out of the way. Let's get started...

I wanted to mark the Woodland Trust's achievement of planting so many trees to celebrate 60 years of the Queen's reign and locally, we have seen two new woodland areas created. Local people assisted with planting thousands of small trees beginning in December of last year and it will be interesting to see the progress over the next few years as the woodland and wild flowers develops.

We are still blaming the jet stream for continuing winter weather and frosty mornings in particular...spotted this frosted feather one morning...

On better days, there are signs of spring to be found. there are also currently nice things like these alder catkins to be found...

Just a couple of days ago, I saw my first cuckoo-flower of the year. Cuckoo-flower is a precursor to the orange-tip butterflies and I'm hoping for a better year for them than last. As with almost all of our native butterflies, last year was disastrous....

But I suppose the one thing that tends to sum up spring more than most would be frogspawn. I hadn't seen any this year until a trip to Marden Meadows, a local nature reserve, about a week ago; where I found just one clump in one of the ponds...

And so what about bugs and insects? Oh I could fill another 3 blog entries with all my recent finds! Okay, may have introduced a small element of exaggeration there. Let me 'trim-down' the statement to..well..the truth?

Far less shield-bugs than I would have expected or hoped for. In fact, only this little forest bug nymph thus far...

Spider warning...spider warning...spider warning...(can't risk the wrath of ladies scorned)...

Wolf Spider

Jumping Spider

This second image is a bit 'noisy' because I sat one evening with nothing better to do and re-made my flash diffuser. Didn't get it quite right though and now need to tweak it a little.

Same with the next one...

Breathe easy...breathe easy...Urgh!..Maybe not, I forgot about this monster..

This photo (above) was also a bit of a failure...story of my life! I was trying out lens combinations on this beetle that I found upside down in the water butt....but.....well, I won't bore you with details, just say that the quality wasn't there to get a good image. I converted to mono to try and improve the appearance for you but even so..never mind, as I keep telling myself..."All part of the learning curve..."

A couple of days ago on a visit to a local graveyard...No laughing please- I wasn't checking availability of plots;I saw a row of trees in the distance smothered in starlings, very noisy respect! Actually I was kind of hoping for a murmuration but sadly I still have that on my list of things to see.

How do you get from starlings to scale insects? No idea, so best just post the photo...

Scale insects (Coccoidae) While there's some variation, they start as free-moving crawlers, with the females becoming less mobile as they mature. In most groups, the females attach to a single spot and lose legs, antennae, etc., so that they begin to look more like some kind of growth than an insect. Both mobile and non-mobile types develop thick protective layers of wax or other inert substances, often in elaborate shapes- so it's hard to see the actual insect underneath.

Oh and no, I didn't know everything here without researching it. Interesting structures though. Here's a different type I found in 2011 in the garden...

Now is also the time to start looking on ivy for the tiny hopper nymphs of Issus coleoptratus who over-winter on this plant. I found my first of the year this week and as it was the first, took a number of photographs. This little critter is no more than 6mm in length...

And so I guess we can say that spring is on its way at last but it may well be a slow start this year, which brings me back nicely to where I came in...blame the jet stream.

Until the next time then...


  1. I loved the frosty feather, very cool! and yes thanks for the warning I scrolled fast :)

  2. probs regards the 'monsters'! I'll try and do next entry without any....can't promise...but I will try :-)

  3. Another superb, interesting and beautifully illustrated blog JJ! Shame about the spam though. Why do people have to spoil things all the time?

    Amazed to see the Cuckoo flower! Wow!
    Have to say that I'm SOOOOOO green of your Forest bug nymph find!!! Been searching high and low but no luck so far....
    (by this time last year, I'd found Green, Gorse, Pied and Hairy....!)

    Love the Ivy hopper nymph and the stunning beetle portrait too! SO detailed!
    Do wish this jetstream would hurry up and return to where it should be!

    Best wishes


    1. Hi Maria...yes, knew you'd be envious of any shieldbug finds but even so, not much for the time of year.
      You are right, that jetsteam needs to be t'other side of the British Isles and soon! Thanks for your comment as always though and I'm sure you'll turn up some bugs real soon.


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