18. July 2013 · 3 comments · Categories: Seasonal

Way up in the middle of the sky a little bit of rainbow, shimmering in the wispy clouds.


It's that time of year again! Look up in your garden on a hot, still evening (just like today's) and you may very well see fat insects silhouetted against the dusky sky, lazily buzzing around the trees. Perhaps bumblebees at first glance, but in fact they're probably chafer beetles. Look down at the lawn at your feet and you might see one that's landed, presumably to lay eggs in the soil.

I've posted about them before, at the same time of year, and this evening as I walked through the garden I thought "it's that sort of muggy summer evening – I bet the chafers are abroad!" And I was right.

What do those eggs turn into? Great big, ugly larvae living under your turf!



Here are a few things I've noticed recently.

  • Blimey it's hot! The grass is dying and many trees are dropping leaves. And perhaps weeks of 30c yet to come.
  • Butterflies are about – mainly small tortoiseshell in my garden.
  • Loads of bumblebees of various sorts, but not so many honey bees.
  • Crane flies are the most numerous thing to fly in our open windows in the evening.
  • I hadn't really seen any wasps until about a week ago, but now quite a few of them are about, including a nest in my roof, right next to the velux window. Great.
  • Blackbirds and wood pigeons are particularly populous on the lawn right now, but maybe that's just my lawn.


Summer is here and seems to be the real deal, which means windows wide open late into the evening, to try to dispel the lingering heat of the day. But unless you like to sit in darkness, bugs will insist on flying through those open windows, drawn by your lightbulbs.

I'm getting a lot of crane flies ("daddy longlegs" – in the UK at least) as pictured above, and moths, but nothing much more exciting just yet. A beautiful swallowtail moth a couple of years back was a particular highlight for me, but what has flown in through your open window? Leave a comment, or better still send pictures to share!

Incidentally, you can tell that the crane fly above is a male as it has a blunt end to its body, whereas the females have a pointy end – all the better to lay eggs with. Also, did you know that some tropical species can be up to 10cm long?

Longtime friend of UKNB, Rose, is working on a wonderful community project celebrating nature in Bungay (that's in Suffolk, East Anglia if you didn't know) and exemplifying her magical story-telling is this blog post on Mayflies over the river. It transports you right there and tells you lots that you probably didn't know about Mayflies.

The blog is great and aims to foster community involvement of all sorts. If you're local to Bungay (or even if you're not) check it out and maybe get involved.

Here’s a genuinely interesting infographic (all the rage at the moment) about the birds in your garden and feeding them – courtesy of Anglian Home Improvements. Perhaps I should get them to extend my blog sideways so their massive infographic actually fits!

Garden birds are in decline. Find out how you can show our feathered friends some love & all about #birdwatching in Britain

This birdwatching infographic was created by Anglian Home Improvements, click on the image above to find out more about this infographic and its origins

My 2 year old daughter spotted lots of these small, fuzzy orange bees on the newly dug soil in the garden. I identified them (by text message, having been sent the iPhone picture above at work) as Tawny mining bees. These are solitary bees, only about a centimetre long, that burrow in soil and raise their young underground. They are only to be seen March to May, hibernating the rest of the year in their tunnels. Completely harmless, I find them rather charming and it's fascinating the way many of them will suddenly descend on a small patch of soil to set up home – which is what my daughter witnessed.

Here's a sign of our confused climate – a Xmassy image of a robin in the snow, as we near April. This lovely picture is courtesy of Jenny from a "very snowy Castle Douglas". Thanks Jenny.

There's also snow in the UKNB garden here in Hertfordshire, and it's been interesting to see so much bird life in the garden, grateful for the feeders, and much easier to see against a white backdrop and with no leaves on the trees. Mostly it has been chaffinches, goldfinches, great tits, blue tits and plenty of robins.


Spring is trying to spring, and I've noticed plenty going on out there.

  • Magpies and rooks are particularly noticeable collecting material for their nests.
  • Tits are creeping along tree branches picking at the buds looking for insects.
  • Birds are singing lustily.
  • It remains extremely damp pretty much everywhere. I bet there's a hosepipe ban within a month!
  • Herons are nesting in the park.

Spring may not have sprung but some count the start of March as the start of Spring. Personally I’d say it’s thinking about it but isn’t sure which coat to wear or whether it needs a hat and gloves.

Something’s stirring though. Today I saw a Red Kite and a Buzzard circling over my garden as well as a fox legging it through it and over the fence to next door. Green things are poking their heads up and some daffs have even dared to flower. Roll on double digit temperatures!