Thursday, 16 September 2021

A Painted Lady!

 I've been seeing a fair few painted ladies flying around lately without ever seeing one settle; later summer migrants to the UK, you can recognise them flying around at this time of year from their paler orange colour than that displayed by the other similar-at-a-distance two species on the wing in September, the small tortoiseshell and the comma. 

I found two on the buddleia at the entrance to Millgate Island, just after an irate and angler had told me I wasn't allowed to go onto the island as "It is only for fishing now and I own it."

Well, I didn't know that.

One of the butterflies was up on the higher flowers in the , but the other was lower down, and rather less energetic so I could get a few photos, which I hope you will agree came out rather well!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 16.09.21

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Red Admiral Studies

 There were no butterflies on the buddleia in the nature reserve, but there were many on the buddleia on the entrance to the office complex off the main road. 

Funny what nature does sometimes!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 11.09.21

Thursday, 9 September 2021

A New Bee for Mee!

 On a hot sunny day, I was drawn to an ivy bush in flower that was absolutely buzzing with insects. 

They were mainly hoverflies of many different species, wasps, a few honey beees and a type of bee I had never seen before. It had a furry orange thorax, and gleaming yellow-orange bands on the abdomen.

I had an inkling as to what it might have been, but I had to wait to get home to confirm it. It was an ivy bee, a new species for me, and one that only arrived in the UK at the beginning of the century and has evidently been making its way north over the next twenty years, but I have no idea how established they are in Nottinghamshire.

It was very happy to pose for some pictures, which really came out nicely, showing what a beautiful insect this species is. 

I was thrilled to have found it. 

Later in the afternoon I decided to take the old hack bike out to RSPB Langford Lowfields for a gentle walk around a fizzingly hot and still lake patrolled by many many migrant hawker dragonflies. Lots of mute swans were on the water, but other than a flock of about 30 very noisy lapwing I didn't see a lot of note. 

But then, I was just there for enjoyment on a lovely day.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 09.09.21

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Trekking the Shire Dyke, Redux

 A couple of days ago I decided that I was fed up of feeling lazy and demotivated as I had been for a few days, and felt the need to blow away the cobwebs with a long walk. 

I know. I'm not very good at the "Listen to your body, get some rest" thing, nor the idea that you are allowed to have relaxing days where you do nothing apart from watch movies. I feel guilty about what I perceive as wasting time. 

These are not great attitudes, but then again, going walking is not a bad thing either. It's a question of balance.

The route I'd chosen for my walk was one I've not done for a while; walking the 5 or so kilometres to Barnby in the Willows along the road, and then following the River Witham and then The Shire Dyke back into town, a rather longer route than the outward bound one. 

I was really happily surprised to find in the village that the house with the eaves where the house martins nest was still busy with birds - there are still unfledged young in the nests that the adult birds are madly feeding, with cute black and white faces peeking over the rims of the nests. Plenty of swallows are around too.

The weather prospects look good, so hopefully they will be able to fledge and feed up in time for their trip to Africa. 

The route took me through the churchyard, and alongside the River Witham for a short stretch before its confluence with the Shire Dyke. This is when I remembered why I don't to do this walk very often - most of this section is along the edge of roughly ploughed fields it is really hard to walk along, and the views are actually quite bleak. 

Too much of our farmland feels too sterile. 

More swallows, mostly juveniles, were flying over the dyke at certain points, and also at a stables near the end of the path where it joins the main road, and the rather tedious walk back home along the main road through town. 

All in all, I'm glad I did the walk, although my gammy ankle wasn't, and the sense of achievement was palpable. But it's a slightly grim route to say its the countryside, and it reinforces my view that Notts is just a rubbish county for this sort of thing sometimes!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 04.09.21

Monday, 30 August 2021

Charity Fun Day at the Cricket

 Sunday saw our first charity fun day at the cricket club, where 8 teams in varying degrees of "stylish" fancy dress took to outfield to take part in a fun tournament designed to raise money for the local hospise.

I wasn't playing, my ankle being so ropey the only thing I want to do is rest it, and wait for next season now. Still, even not playing there was plenty to do on the day, such as buy raffle tickets I knew I had no chance to win with because I never do, and also to take part in the Hospice's highly effective "Booze Tombola".

This was a highly popular stall, where every ticket you pulled out with a 0 or 5 got you anything from a small bottle of beer right up to some weird triangular bottles of Pfirsch, whatever that is, Pimms and whisky. 

There were also bottles of water from Spa as a kind of booby prize, virtually all of which I won which made me incredibly popular with folk having a go later on as they waltzed off with bottles of prosecco and the like.

I did eventually win a few bottles of Heineken and then, excitingly, a bottle of Dewar's malt whisky. This however was as much use to me as a bottle of horse bile as even the smell of scotch gives me a thunderous headache. I was able to swap it at the club bar for wine though.

Frankly it was impossible not to win, as the hospice were so desperate not to lug the booze home with them they were giving you about a hundred tickets for a pound at the end of the day. For which I was very grateful.

Out on the field, teams dressed as doctors, Tom Selleck Hawaiian shirt wearers, random Santas and inflatable aliens did battle with plastic bats and squidgy soft balls in a sort of Kwik Krikit format. Despite the fun nature of the tournament, won by "The Hula Guys", a few first team players couldn't help themselves, slamming sixes off 10 year old girls or making athletic diving stops to stop 8 year old boys scoring singles. 

Shameful I tell you, shameful!

It was an excellent day though; lots of money was raised for the hospice and no drunken adults tried to go on the bouncy castle. The organisers deserve many many heaps of praise.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.08.21

Thursday, 26 August 2021

How Vivid do you want it?

 Took myself off on a nice trip to Farndon, to have a good walk around and see what I might find at Cottage Lane Reserve.

The answer was, not very much. 

The tufted vetch that gives the reserve a feel of a bushy ocean in late summer was largely over, and red clover was the dominant plant in the meadow area, while purple and yellow loosestrife fringed the ponds in, er, purple and yellow. 

More yellow was supplied by a lovely second flight male brimstone that was feeding off clover. It's rare to see them settle for long, but this one took its time. Too far away to photograph however. 

Migrant hawker dragonflies were on patrol too, flying in those sinister zig zag patterns, always looking for hapless prey. 

OK, so, there was quite a lot to see really. I just didn't get to photograph any of it...

However, there were other beautiful things I found to show you. On the way out, I'd noticed that the red valerian outside the front of a sheltered housing complex was a bit of a butterfly magnet, and sure enough when I came back there were small tortoiseshells feeding off it, one of them pristine, the other so raggedy I was amazed it could fly. 

A marigold also provided the colourful backdrop for a bumblebee. 

Yeah! Let's turn that photo saturation up baby!!!


All text and images copyright 26.08.21

Saturday, 21 August 2021

A Dragonfly at Work!

 Our workplace has never been a particularly good place to photograph dragonflies, although you do the occasional brown hawker on the hunt over the wildlands that border campus.

Thus, in a week of relentlessly grey weather, to find one in the tended garden area at work was rather a surprise. A female common darter investigating the planters, and being pretty co-operative - indeed I find this species the easiest to photograph. 

The buddleia is still in flower, and usually when I walk past it, there is a small tortoiseshell having a feed.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 21.08.21