Tuesday, March 11, 2014

At last the weather relents...

What a change since I last updated the blog-the weather is what I refer to of course. We seem to have left the wet stuff behind in favour of sunshine and warmer temperatures (I hope I don't regret saying that) and it now feels as though spring has been urging winter to retire in favour of new life and has grabbed this opportunity without waiting to see if it was done.

Just today walking locally, I spotted primrose, cuckoo-flower, blackthorn, violet, wood anemone all in flower.
There were lots of brimstone butterflies, a few comma butterflies, as well as peacock and small tortoiseshell.

The pussy willow is coming in to flower now and that is always one of the earliest forms of pollen available to the insects...

Click any photo for a larger version

Did you spot the butterfly in that picture?

The honey bees have also returned in force and were busy on the crocuses...
(Please be aware that if you only view the e.mailed version, this video won't show, you'll need to click the link at the bottom of the email.)

I spent around three hours at Ashdown Forest last week, I arrived early morning to search for adders but despite a thorough search of several likely areas, found none on the day. There were a few other finds as always and so it wasn't a complete waste of time and maybe I'll try again in a few weeks.

Ashdown Forest

Continuing meanwhile with the tradition of mystery objects...this is from the fence in the garden and I almost overlooked it, thinking it was just another spider 'nest' and who knows, maybe it'll turn out to be exactly that. What particularly interested me though, were all of those tiny orange dots. I can't pick out any detail myself from this one photo but I shall be keeping an eye on it to see what develops. The whole thing is I would guess about 20mm across.

I know for instance that garden spider spiderlings are yellow when juvenile and so maybe orange isn't so strange after all?

You might remember that I mentioned in my last update I had seen my first moth of the year. It had actually flown into the house-well, here's the photograph that I took at the time. I am still not certain of the identity but offer Tortricoes alternella as a possibility. It's only a tentative idea and is really based around that species being one of the earliest to emerge.

There will be somebody who knows for sure, there are far too many for my liking to choose from. I hope to improve my skills though as I get into using the moth trap again through 2014.
In fact, I may well dig it out and set up in the next few days if the weather stays as it is.

Since that find I have discovered another moth. This time on one of my afternoon walks. It was sitting on a fence-post and well camouflaged. It seemed very lethargic and wasn't at all bothered by my taking pictures and was still in exactly the same spot when I passed again sometime later.

I wonder if this one could be an early grey moth. Flying time seems just about right but again, just not sure-to me the markings seem to be less distinctive than I would expect. Whatever it turns out to be, it is nice to see these returning as so many insects are now that the weather is more forgiving.

Now....here's the exciting bit I've been dying to share with you since getting the latest photograph; I said in response to a comment on that amazingly tiny cocoon in my last update that I'd try and add an updated photo here. Well I took another close-up (x5) shot of it just today and there has been a big change as you can see for yourself here...

I'd be interested to hear if anyone has an idea of exactly what may eventually emerge using just the clues in this photo- there are some definite...shapes! But what are they? It has just occurred to me that it may be a parasite?

Finally for now, here's what I think is a wolf spider exhibitinBallooning behaviour (link)..

Until the next time.....


  1. Hasn't the weather been great? Mind you, overcast and foggy this morning... hoping it will burn off soon!
    Shame you missed out on the adders at Ashdown. Look forward to seeing what other goodies you got there though.
    Think your flora (as expected) is a little earlier than ours. There is some blackthorn in flower in sheltered spots and have seen Celandines and the odd primrose, but no cuckoo flowers or Wood anemones yet. Our Pussy willow is only just starting to break in places too. A joy to see anyway!

    As you say, hope it continues.... last 'spring' we had a lovely spell in March, then it was horrible until June!!!! Don't want a repetition this year.

    Amazed by the tantalising detail in that cocoon! So much you can see, but still not enough to know what's in there for sure. Does look a little 'wasp'ish to me so you could be right about it being a parasite. Can't wait for the next instalment! :-)

    Thanks for another fascinating blog and superb images as ever!


    1. Thanks for your interest again Maria,
      Yep..weather has been great last few days and we have sunshine again today too. Not sure if our wild flowers are earlier than expected, would have to check my diaries from past years. Good to see them though. I'll be sure to let you know when anything does emerge from that cocoon.


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