When I visited the Farne Islands earlier this year, I saw many of the behaviours that had been on tele just a few weeks before on Springwatch when Lolo Williams reported from Skomer – a not dissimilar island full of birds.

That included the not-so-fluffy aspects of island life, which in my picture above shows a Herring gull taking a tern chick. The parents were swooping around above it, but all was lost. Still, Herring gulls and their chicks must eat too.


A few weeks ago I posted pictures of a Ladybird freshly emerged from its pupa, but now I've caught one in the act! This one doesn't look like a Harlequin (no 'M' on its forehead) and its wing cases look much softer with a rough surface, so presumably the previous subject had already had a little time to dry out and harden up when I first found it. Though it might not have been fully baked, this one wasn't lacking in energy and scuttled off quickly.


22. August 2011 · 3 comments · Categories: Plants

In the pots on my deck lurk strange but tiny worlds. The garden you see above is just a few centimetres across and sits at the base of a clematis (that's the bigger stalks rising off the top of the frame). I didn't plant this miniature oasis – it just grew there, complete with minute 'palm trees'. I assume that these are mostly mosses and other primitive plants (or just small, young weeds in a few cases), but I find them fascinating up close, with some very strange structures.

Update: A bit of research prompted by a reader with similar things in his pots shows they are in fact Liverworts (not moss). These are are usually indicative of compacted soil or poor drainage, which sounds about right.



Update: I originally identified this as a Cinnabar moth (hence the title of this post) but clearly I wasn't paying enough attention! Thanks to the commenters who very quickly set me straight. It is in fact a Six-spot Burnet moth.

It and several others was seen on Teasels at Butterfly World on the far side of the lake.


I was recently approached by the maker of an iPhone game asking if I'd like to review it here. Having played it intently on the train over the past few weeks, I can thoroughly recommend it and can confirm that it's definitely relevant to a nature blog!

Honey Tribe: Colony Collapse (iTunes link) is a delightful tale of a drone bee asked to save a colony suffering from colony collapse disorder. The game is a side scroller as our hero tries to collect pollen whilst evading many and varied threats. I was a bit confused at first that you can only control his movement up and town (touch to flap wings) as it wasn't completely obvious, but once I'd figured that out I was fine. A lot of its appeal is courtesy of its simple control scheme combined with fast pace and increasing challenges, making it easy to get into but hard to put down.

The graphics are hand drawn with a homespun charm and the music's apparently very good too but I didn't have headphones so I played it with the sound off! Woven into the game is an evolving story of the challenges faced by the hive, laced with facts about bees and their world. It's appropriate and fun for any age but children might especially like it and learn a little something too.

At £1.49 I recommend it. More information on iTunes app store or via the Honey Tribe website. A free LITE version is also available if you just want to give it a go.

You don't often see a buttefly's 'face' head on. Here is a Red admiral staring me down, and below is the same butterfly from a more usual angle. It's sitting on one of the very interesting walls at Butterfly World in Hertfordshire. More about that another time perhaps.



A few things I've noticed of late:

  • Lots of ladybirds about, especially 7-spot.
  • Garden full of Gatekeeper butterflies all of a sudden, often in pairs. This is their time of year apparently.
  • Slugs and snails living it up in the recent boughts of wetness (and eaten all our courgette plants) though it's still fundamentally dry out there and some plants are struggling.
  • I have a large wasp's nest in the hedge – about the size of a football. I think they're Median wasps, so not the usual sort: bigger but much less agressive and bothersome. I blogged about them once before when I saw a single wasp before I discovered the nest.
  • I saw a Red kite circling above the garden lower than I've seen it before – probably just 50 feet up or so. Their successful comeback seems to continue apace.
  • Smooth newts are easily terrified and they just freeze. They also looks just like little lizards. I found one crawling across my decking the other night – frozen stiff at my sudden appearance. The picture above is a pair I found on a previous occasion.
  • Wasps of all sorts are particularly evident now. Presumably their numbers have swelled as they built up the size of their colonies over recent months. August is traditionally a waspy time of year and before long they'll be drunk on rotten apples.

An interesting non-profit organisation was brought to my attention recently, called Pro Dono. They have a very simple premise – pay to meet your heroes (out of a bunch they have on their roster) and said hero donates that money to a cause of their choice, minus 7% admin fee from Pro Dono, but hopefully plus gift aid – so adding up to more than you actually paid. You can do whatever you want with said hero, as long as they're up for it.

They have 85 admired public figures lined up, raising money for 75 charities. Several of these are wildlife specialists such as Johnny Kingdom, the wildlife filmmaker, Sue Flood, a specialist in polar and marine environments, and keen birdwatcher and columnist Simon Barnes, who is raising money for the World Land Trust. I recently finished reading one of Simon's books on birdwatching as it happens – which I should blog about another time.