Interesting (To Us) Photos From The Garden

This page last updated: 9 April 2014.

Spawn
9 April 2014

Rather excitingly, the pond dug just over a year ago has not only attracted frogs but has just spawned, umm, spawn.  You can see the little black tadpole blobs in the centre of each glob.

Frog spawn

Blue Tit
14 December 2013

A few months ago we bought a perspex bird feeder that one can stick to a window so as to get a good view of the birdies coming to feed.  Up in Aviemore one of these was veritably infested with birds taking advantage of the free grub. It's taken a little while to get the birdies coming here, mainly because the weather has been so good that they haven't been worried about food.  But in the last few weeks we've seen birds using the nearby apple tree as a staging post from which to make dives to the feeder.  Today we managed to snap a fuzzy photograph of one through the dirty window and believe that it is a blue tit.

Blue Tit on feeder


Bum Apple
21 October 2013

An amusingly deformed apple has landed.

Twins from below
Twins from above

Click the image below to see the twins in motion.

Click for twins in motion


Muntjac Once More
16 October 2013

They're back!  The Muntjacs have returned, two of them this time.  They love them apples.

Muntjac!
Muntjac!


Strelitzia
3 March 2013

More of a house thing than a garden thing but we thought it was a bit amazing.  Take one pot-bound strelitzia:

strelitzia, pot-bound

Hack it into three:

strelitzia hacked into three
          parts

Take one part home in a bag:

Rob's prize

And five months later we have this:

A
                flower A flower!

Not only that, but the flower keeps opening up new orange and blue petals from the pod on the left, the old ones becoming the "greasy hair" of the head while the new ones shine out:

New petals

And at the same time it oozes out some lovely goo:

Goo


Pond
14 January 2013

Slightly belated this but we thought we'd post some photos of pond construction that took place late last year.  The intention is to bury a small water storage tank (better than a very visible large ugly green thing) and at the same time dig a small garden pond (80 cm deep, 70 cm wide and 120 cm long).  The 60 cm wide digger was extremely useful and very versatile; moving 2 metric tonnes of wet clay soil 100 metres up the road to the only place we were allowed to locate a skip, using one wheel barrow, in the pouring rain, was less fun.

The digger in
                position
Moving the
                grass that will be put back to cover the water storage
                tank
Beginning the
                dig
The dig
                completed, water tank in place
Grass replaced
                over the water storage tank, shelf and water feature in
                place
Sand going in
Membrane going
                down
Completed


Light Brown Apple Moths
14 January 2013

The caterpillars below have pupated and hatched to reveal... Light Brown Apple Moths (or Epiphyas postvittana).  Not surprising given that the gardens of our houses all have apple trees, an ex orchard in fact.  And apparently we shouldn't have worried about the choice of food plant for the caterpillars: UK Moths has these creatures down as "the most catholic polyphages in Britain", a poetic way of saying "they eat anything".

Light Brown Apple
          Moth or Epiphyas postvittana

Caterpillars On Echeveria
1 January 2013

We found several small green caterpillars, each about 1.5 cm long, infesting an Echeveria (a succulent plant) today.  They were later found on the Plumbago next door along with an open pupa case from a previous generation.  Samples have been kept to see what hatches.

Caterpiller on echeveria

Pupa case from previous
          generation

Gloriosa Sequence
8 December 2012

There were a set of flowers on the Gloriosa today which represented most of the flowering states it has so we thought we'd put together a sequence to show how the petals develop; click on the image below to see it.  The flower starts as a pod, the petals begin dangling down, they rise and develop yellow edges to perfection and then relax downwards once more.  Very pretty.

Gloriosa sequence



Frog
23 September 2012

Sitting on the decking yesterday, looking rather like a fallen leaf initially, we found a very fat frog with beautiful bronze-coloured eyes.

Frog


Muntjac
23 August 2012

Alice found a Muntjac feeding on the shoots of the apple tree in the garden this morning.  It didn't stick around for long once it had spotted that it was being watched.

Muntjac


Dragonfly at Chatsworth
8 August 2012

OK, so the Duke and Duchess of Devon's back yard can't be described as our garden but it could be The Garden? Ah, hell, we took a good picture of a dragonfly and it shouldn't go to waste.

Dragonfly at Chatsworth

Honey Bee
29 July 2012

Managed to get rather a good shot of a honey bee in the garden while emptying the moth trap this morning.

Honey Bee

Damselfly
27 May 2012

OK, so this was not taken in our garden at all.  It was taken in Waltham Abbey Dragonfly Preservation area, utterly deserted for a very sunny Sunday afternoon.  We happened across the most cooperative damselfy ever, so we thought it worth recording the picture somewhere.

damselfly


Gloriosa
29 April 2012

Alice took this photo on 5 February 2012 when the Gloriosa in the conservatory was flowering wonderfully with snow in the background.  We thought it was rather a marvellous juxtaposition.

Gloriosa
          flowring in the snow


Nelson's Return?
20 November 2011

We christened the Red Admiral Nelson, of course, and let him out into the wild (though he sat outside in his large sweet jar for several days before venturing through the open top).  Then yesterday Hazel spotted a Red Admiral fluttering at the windows.  It's incredibly late in the year for a butterful to be about and we couldn't help but wonder if it was our homing Nelson.


Red Admiral!
6 September 2011

We were right - the Red Admiral hatched today.

Red Admiral


Red Admiral (?) Pupa
26 August 2011

Rather excitingly, the caterpillar has pupated.

Red Admiral pupa



Red Admiral (?) Caterpillar
22 August 2011

We found a caterpillar in the garden at the weekend, sitting on a rotting apple and about to be attacked by a wasp.  We have rescued it and believe it to be a Red Admiral caterpillar.  It is being fed nettles and we hope it will pupate.

Red Admiral
              caterpillar


And The Other Chrysalis
20 June 2011

The other chrysalis, the larger of the two, has now hatched into, rather appropriately, a beautifully marked Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing


Orchids
16 June 2011

Alice took a walk in a wildlife area near Thaxted that was full of wild orchids.  Not exactly the garden but only three miles away.

Wild orchids
One wild orchids


More Chrysalis
16 June 2011

Here are two more chrysalis that Alice found over the last two weeks.

A pair of chrysalis

We awaited a hatching and the smaller one has so far done the deed and turned out to be a Lesser Yellow Underwing. Only last week Alice had hatched one of the same from a pupa found near the one above - there must be a food plant for Lesser Yellow Underwings about.

Lesser Yellow
                Underwing


Chrysalis From The Hanging Baskets
18 January 2011

The caterpillar below has pupated.  We await the adult form.

Update 23 May 2011: sadly the pupa developed a kink in its side and didn't make it through the winter.

Chrysalis from the hanging baskets


Caterpillar On The Hanging Baskets
13 December 2010

Feeding on the flowers in the hanging baskets (now brought inside) we found this brown caterpillar. We will keep it and see what happens next year.

Brown Caterpillar


Stalactite
16 October 2010

Hazel wanted this picture posted here - it's a little tiny stalactite that had developed on the bath tap.  It's very hard around here.

Stalactite from the bath tap


Spiderlings
17 May 2009

A set of spiders eggs hatched on our back door this week.  They are only the common Garden Spider, Araneus diadematus, but rather pretty we thought.

Araneus diadematus,
                the Garden Spider 


Full Circle
20 April 2009

Today the red pupa that we'd kept from last year hatched: it is a Cabbage Moth.

Cabbage Moth


Bee Fly
5 April 2009

Alice spotted a very peculiar looking bee in the garden today.  We thought at first that it might be a Bee Moth but further study has shown that it is in fact a Bee Fly.  Funny how so many things want to look like bees.

Bee Fly


Another Caterpillar Pupates
18 October 2008

The green caterpillar below has now pupated.  We will keep it until next year and hope to find out what it is.

Pupa


And Another Caterpillar
11 October 2008

One for the "to be ID'd" list (~3.5 cm long).  The possibilities would seem to be Hebrew Character, Common Quaker, Cabbage Moth, Yellow Shell, Dark Umber, or Autumnal Moth (though these latter two moths we've never caught locally).

??


An Early Thorn Caterpillar
4 October 2008

We found this caterpillar a few days ago.  We reckon it is an Early Thorn and will over-winter as a pupa.

Early Thorn
                  caterpillar? 


Cabbage White Caterpillar
10 August 2008

Feeding on the nasturtiums today in vast numbers, the Cabbage White caterpillar.  The text book suggests that they feed in groups up to their last moult, after which they disperse, so given their size (~25 mm long) we reckon these are on their penultimate moult.

Cabbage White
                Caterpillar


Pretty Fly, AKA Episyrphus balteatus
2 August 2008

From the moth trap this morning, a fly that we thought was very pretty.  We suspect it is some form of hoverfly.

Update, 23 May 2011: thanks to Myriam Vandenberghe for letting us know that it really is a hoverfly, Episyrphus balteatus male, family Syrphidae to be exact.

A
                form of Hoverfly?


Twilight
27 July 2008

The kids were playing in the paddling pool in the back garden until late tonight and while wandering around in the dark we came upon two other creatures.  The first is a Summer Chafer.  It is a bit like a Cockchafer but smaller (about 20 mm long), hairier and uniformly light brown in colour.  Apologies for the bad photo (it was dark and we had to use a torch).

Summer Chafer

The other creature was a frog posing nicely on the grass (which we narrowly avoided stepping on).  We should probably get around to narrowing down the frog varieties, if there are such things.

Frog


Forest Bug
22 July 2008

Found on the way back home from school today, a form of shield bug we thought we hadn't seen before.  We believed it to be a Sloe Bug but it's actually (another) Forest Bug, thanks to Carl Farmer for correcting us.

Forest Bug


Beetle Rescue
13 July 2008

Last weekend, while emptying the moth trap, we happened to look at an old apple tree stump nearby and spotted a beetle (the stump has begin rotting properly in the last year and has become a juicy haunt for insects).  The peculiar thing about this particular beetle, though, is that it appeared to be stuck half-way out of the wood.

Beetle stuck in the
                wood 

This weekend, on emptying the moth trap, we took another look and the beetle was still there, stuck in the same place.  From the pictures below you can see that there is a hollow from which it is emerging: perhaps it had been a pupa in there.

Front half of the
                  beetle
Rear half of the
                  beetle

We decided to rescue it and so removed the piece of wood (which was well rotted lower down but actually quite solid around its body) and cut it free.

Lesser Stag Beetle
                freed

Alice has identified it as a Lesser Stag Beetle, in fact a female Lesser Stag Beetle because of the two raised dots on her face.  We have previously caught one that lacked the two dots, so was probably a male.  Once out of the wood, she did a curious backwards walk, presumably trying to burrow back into the wood to hide from us.

The lesser stag
                beetle trying to hide

We returned her to the tree stump and she immediately headed back into the comfort of the rotting wood.


Cockchafer
1 June 2008

Found in the moth trap this morning: a Cockchafer.  One of the larger native beetles in Britain and a member of the Scarab family, its young spend several years in larval form.  This one is a few centimetres long and is very cute to look at.  Notice its clubbed antennae, both of which can be folded away in case of danger.  We're not sure we believe this but according to UK Safari you can tell the difference between male and female because the female has six segments to its clubbed antenna while the male has seven.  This one is a lady.  To show its stately pace of life, we've included a video of it trying to climb up Rob's sleeve.

Cockchafer Cockchafer head-shot
Cockchafer's clubbed antennae The cockchafer trying
                  to climb up Rob's sleeve

May Fly
19 May 2008

It's May and, appropriately enough, we found this May Fly perched on a wall in our lounge today.  We know it's a May Fly (and not a Caddis Fly, Stonefly or Lacewing) because it has very short antennae and its wings are up-stretched vertically on its back rather than folded flat. The fact that it's around in May is, apparently, less of a decider - they can be seen throughout the summer.

May Fly


Newts
18 May 2008

Three years ago Alice spotted a newt in our garden and then two years ago she transported some newts from the school pond into ours.  Now, while cleaning duckweed out of our pond, Alice has spotted at least two newts amongst the frog collection in our pond. We managed to capture one of them on film.  It has no crest, so we reckon it is female.

Newt in the pond Newt in
                  the pond

Multicoloured Asian Ladybird
12 October 2007

Found this Multicoloured Asian Ladybird at Hazel's school.  We originally thought it was a Harlequin Ladybird (an invasive species from Asia that is sold in Europe as a biological control for aphids which out-competes local ladybirds and then eats them and other insect eggs): our thanks to Kevin Ker for the correction. The giveaway is apparently the 'M' black marking on the back of its head.

Multicoloured Asian Ladybird

P.S. Further thanks to Jamie Hooper from Guernsey for pointing out that the Harlequin Ladybird and the Multicoloured Asian Ladybird are the same thing...


Rosemary Leaf Beetle
7 September 2007

Hazel found this very pretty shiny beetle, about 8 mm long, on her book-bag today.  It turns out to be a Rosemary Leaf Beetle, a native of Southern Europe where it is a pest of rosemary and lavender.

Rosemary Leaf Beetle Rosemary Leaf Beetle Rosemary Leaf Beetle

Ladybird Larvae
28 April 2007

Our garden path had about ten ladybird larvae wandering across it this afternoon.  Alice transported them to an aphid-infested honeysuckle.

Ladybird larva


More Spawn
12 April 2007

Thought this worth a picture, not only because it is the second batch of frog spawn to appear in our pond this year, but because there was a frog obligingly sitting beside it for a photo.

Frog with spawn 


Wasp Beetle
28 January 2007

Found this creature wandering across our lounge carpet this evening.  It is apparently a Wasp Beetle, named for its keenness to imitate wasps, not simply by the yellow banding but because it hares around and taps its antennae just like a wasp as well.

Wasp Beetle


A Moth From Orlando
2 January 2007

Not really from our garden, and a moth picture so you might expect it to be in the moths section, but since we photographed it in Orlando we've put it here instead to avoid confusion with the UK moths.  It was photographed in the day time in a swampy area and we think it is a worn Large Maple Spanworm Moth (Prochoerodes transversata or Prochoerodes lineola) - see here for our source of identification.  From a more reasonable distance it looks exactly like a fallen autumn leaf. 

Large Maple
                Spanworm Moth (Prochoerodes transversata) 


Hawthorn Shield Bug
17 September 2006

From the moth trap, a Hawthorn Shield Bug.

 Hawthorn Shield
                  Bug


Grey Dagger Caterpillar
17 September 2006

Another caterpillar, found on the apple tree this time.  It's the caterpillar of a Grey Dagger moth, which we've probably caught in our moth trap (see here and here), though we were never sure whether we had caught a Grey Dagger or a Dark Dagger.  Now we know which it's more likely to have been. 

Grey Dagger
                caterpillar


More Caterpillars
10 September 2006

While gardening today we found four more caterpillars.  We think the top three are all Bright-line Brown-eye, the top two being brown and green forms (see what UKLeps has to say here) and the third being a younger one; we don't know what the fourth is though. We were hoping to hatch out some moths/butterflies to confirm their identities, but these over-winter in pupal form so we thought it best to release them back to the wild.

Bright-line Brown-eye caterpillar in its brown
                  form, about 2 cm long
The
                  green form of the Bright-line Brown-eye caterpillar,
                  slightly longer at about 3 cm
A
                  smaller version of the above
Black and white hairy caterpillar about 1.5 cm
                  long

Speckled Wood
28 August 2006

Another cheat.  We should probably change the title of this page.  This time a Speckled Wood which we saw when we were visiting in Sheffield.

Speckled Wood 


Humming-bird Hawk-moth
19 August 2006

A bit of a cheat this since it's not actually from our garden, but we had to put the photos somewhere and Alice has seen one in our garden previously.  We went to Hatfield Forest to entertain the kids for an afternoon and found a Buddleia that was covered in butterflies including Peacocks, Red Admirals, Large Whites, Painted Ladies and a Silver-washed Fritillary but, most amazingly, a pair of Humming-bird Hawk-moths.  We didn't have the digital camera with us, so here is the best we could do with our standard camera.  Amazing creatures, hovering in the air just like a Humming Bird with their long tongues poking into the flowers.

Humming-bird
                Hawk-moth 

Humming-bird
                Hawk-moth


White Plume Moth Out
18 August 2006

The White Plume Moth hatched out today.  We hadn't even realised that the caterpillar had become a pupa, but this would probably explain why it was so immobile and firmly attached to the leaf.

White Plume Moth
                  hatched-out White Plume
                  Moth pupa case

Caterpillar
7 August 2006

While picking up weeds in the garden we found a 10 mm long green caterpillar.  Wandered Scott from the bird forum moth ID list has identified it as a White Plume Moth larva, as pictured on UKMoths here. We've put it in a box with some bind weed, its food plant, to see if we can hatch an adult

Green
                hairy caterpillar, about 10 mm long


Extras From South Wales
7 August 2006

During a visit to Ystrad Mynach in South Wales (12 miles north of Cardiff), a number of extras landed in the moth trap.  Here they are.

A Dor beetle, a variety of Dung Beetle:

Dor
                Beetle, a variety of Dung Beetle

Several Burying Beetles, so called because they bury carcasses to lay their eggs on:

Two Burying Beetles

A Forest Bug, a variety of Shield Bug:

Forest Bug, a variety of Shield Bug

An Ichneumon Wasp:

Ichneumon Wasp

Another form of Caddis Fly:

Caddis Fly


Bracket Fungus
30 July 2006

The apple tree in our garden has grown the most enormous bracket fungus, about 30 cm across.  Here it is.

Bracket fungus on the apple tree


Buddleia 
23 July 2006

Since it's British Butterfly Conservation Week, we thought we'd take a look at all the creatures flying around our Buddleia today.  Some we managed to get photographs of.  We saw:

For the record, later in the week Alice saw several Painted Lady's (the butterfly) around the town.

Peacock
                        butterfly Red Admiral
                        butterflyRed
                        Admiral butterfly
Red-tailed
                        Bumble BeeWhite-tailed Bumble BeeDrone Fly (a sort of
                        Hoverfly)Flesh Fly

Microwave
15 July 2006

OK, so this is not exactly a set of photos from the garden however this is the only vaguely logical place to put them on this website.

Our old microwave has begun failing intermittently so we bought a new one today and thought we'd have a go at doing those things you're not supposed to do with the old one.  Found a bunch of aluminium foil, ripped it up a bit, then put it in for a minute.  It sparked a fair amount, though not as much as we'd expected.  Afterwards the foil didn't look blackened or anything, however it must have got up to a pretty high temperature as there were some lumps of blackened metal etched into the glass turntable.  In fact all the sparking seemed to be taking place where the aluminium met the glass.  We wonder why?

The aluminium foil in the microwave The microwave in
                  action
Burnt metal etched into the surface of the glass
              turntable

Newts
2 July 2006

Alice has been working in the school wildlife area refurbishing and extending their pond.  She came home with a present for our pond - a bucket containing 5 newts.  Quite large creatures - at least 5 cm long.  We poured them in to join the smallish frogs that we hope resulted from the tadpoles we cultured earlier.

Newt, more
                  than 5 cm long 
This newt
                  is smaller and has a bit of its tail missing


More Caddis Flies?
30 June 2006

Another set of distinctive flies in the moth trap today.  Given the long antennae we think they are Caddis Flies, but they are quite a lot smaller than the ones we've seen previously.

Caddis Fly? 


Vine Weevil
25 June 2006

Really pretty, this Vine Weevil which appeared from under the moth trap this weekend: very fetching golden flecks on its wing cases.  However, its larva is a garden pest, feeding on the roots of Primulas and Fuchias in particular.  Our Primulas are doing fine, so we can't have many of these.

Vine Weevil


Lilly Beetle Larva
18 June 2006

In an attempt to make Rob dislike the pretty but destructive Lilly Beetle rather more, Alice showed him the Lilly Beetle larva which sits in its own excrement.  It's working...

Lilly Beetle Larva in
                its own excrement 


Tadpoles
22 April 2006

The frog spawn disappeared a few days ago, which got us worried, but looking more closely this morning there are little teeny tiny tadpoles in the pond.  Not a great cluster of them, as you sometimes see, but a smattering.  Nice.

Tadpoles Tadpoles

Frog Spawn In The Pond
9 April 2006

For the first time ever in our current pond we've got an enormous ball of frog spawn.  It's difficult to see with the reflections in the water, but if you look carefully you can see that it goes all the way down to the bottom of the picture.  Neither of the two lots of spawn we had in our old pond resulted in tadpoles.  If this lot hatches we will post photos later.

Frog
                spawn


Fourteen-spot Ladybird
30 July 2005

Another Ladybird caught in the moth trap.

Fourteen-spot
                Ladybird


Garden Newt
10 June 2005

Alice found a newt in the garden today and managed to get a slightly fuzzy video of it.  Finger was introduced for scale.

Newt


Eyed Ladybird
28 May 2005

Caught in our moth trap today was a particularly attractive ladybird, apparently an Eyed Ladybird.

Eyed Ladybird


Caterpillars In Hazel's Feathers
21 May 2005

Hazel was looking through her collection of stuff (which includes feathers) today and found a load of small white caterpillars with their own caddis-fly like homes to live in.  Photo of one below.  They are the larvae of the Case-bearing Clothes Moth and in this case they have formed their homes out of silk and feathers.

Home of caterpillar on a piece of cloth with what
                appears to be the pupae case on the left


Spider With Fly
1 May 2005

In our early moth trapping sessions this year we caught two tiny spiders of the type below each frantically running around with their own catches.

Spider with catch


Slug Eggs
19 September 2004

Found loads of slug eggs (and slugs) while removing rubbish bags from the garden.  We kept some of the eggs in a jar in the hope of watching littul slugs hatch out.  Then Alice is going to kill them. <later> Actually, she needn't have worried as the eggs dry out pretty rapidly if you don't keep them under something wet [note to self for next time].

Slug
                Eggs


Caddis Flies
1 August 2004 (and more later on 30 July 2005)

Caught these in our moth trap.  Didn't have any idea what they were initially, but apparently they are Caddis Flies.  Having only seen the larvae before in Welsh brooks as a kid, it's good to see the adults.

Caddis Fly au naturelle (photograph taken 30 July
                2005)
Caddis fly with opaque
                wings (picture taken 30 July 2005)
Caddis Fly


Weevil
1 August 2004

Lounging in our moth trap, for some reason, this Weevil is one of 400 British species.

Weevil


Lacewing
18 July 2004 and 1 August 2004

For the sake of completeness, a few Lacewings with their tiny red eyes.

LacewingLacewing


Green Shield Bug Nymph
4 July 2004

This, we believe, is the nymph of the Green Shield Bug.  It's certainly not a Green Shield Bug, but it has the look of it. Nymphs hatch from eggs and change into adults through a series of body moults (rather than going through a pupal stage, as in butterflies or moths).

Green Shield
                Beetle nymph


Hover Fly - Syrphus ribesii
20 June 2004

Rather disappointed that this just turned out to be a Hover Fly.  It looked far more exciting in the flesh, with the bold yellow stripes and the bulging purple eyes.  We're apparently having a bit of an epidemic (swarms have been reported on Radio 4) due to a surfeit of aphids, which they feed on.

Hover Fly -
                Syrphus ribesii


Cabbage White Wasp
4 June 2004

We found a chrysalis on the ground next to some dead nettles and kept it in a jar.  Out came a Cabbage White Wasp, rather than a Cabbage White butterfly.  Still pretty though.
Cabbage White
                    Wasp
Chrysalis the
                            wasp hatched from (note lid cut off)
Inside - it's
                            empty!


Lesser Stag Beetle
15 May 2004

Found in the garden on 15th May, near the compost heap.

Lesser Stag BeetleLesser
                Stag Beetle Upside-Down


Lilly Beetle
15 May 2004

Rob thought this was really pretty, but Alice dismissed it as a pest for Lilly lovers.

Lilly Beetle                 


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