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Posts Tagged ‘wasp’

Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother’s walks in his local area. The farmer has had to work round and old water tower to get his field planted.

There was a lot of noise in the garden this morning although as far as the weather went it was sunny and peaceful day. These tiny flowers were responsible for the racket.

They are on a cotoneaster and they were proving a big draw for bees. I had to crop the picture above just to take a picture of the bush with no bees in it.

I tried to get some decent bee pictures but I had the wrong camera in my hand so I went off to look for flowers instead. The latest rhododendron to flower has the reddest flowers in the garden I think (but see later in the post for a competitor).

There are also red astrantias coming out and doubtless they will soon be buzzing too as the insects like them a lot.

I stopped chasing flowers and went off to have socially distanced coffee with Sandy in his garden. The coffee turned out to be tea as there had been a cafetiere catastrophe earlier in the morning but it went down well as we chatted and watched blue tits busily flying in and out of the nest box on his shed.

Sandy’s foot is slowly improving after his operation and he has managed to go out for some short walks. He still has some way to go before he can go some way but he is feeling much more positive about life.

When I got back home, the street coffee morning was still going so I stopped and chatted there until I was distracted by the poppies beside the dam along the back wall of the house.

They are quite distracting.

There are other less conspicuous flowers along the wall too.

As you can see from the centre picture in the panel above, the fuschia is not in good condition at all but when I looked closely at it, I could see that there were some healthy flowers tucked away in it. A case for some severe pruning perhaps.

I went back into the garden, got out a different camera, and had another go at the cotoneaster. The resulting picture gives an idea of just how small the flowers on the shrub are.

There were so many bees that they were shoving each other out of the way.

Bumble bees were interested too.

I had a wander round, admiring old friends enjoying the sunshine.

New flowers are always arriving and today’s newcomer is an ox-eye daisy, the first of many all over the garden. It couldn’t attract a bee but it did have a small fly in its eye.

Other flowers were attracting other bees.

When I look back on my day today, thanks to a combination of old age and the warm sunshine the chronology has become rather blurred. I know that I mowed the middle lawn, made bacon butties for lunch, mowed the front lawn, edged both lawns and put decking oil on our new bench but I am by no means certain in what order these exciting events took place.

I also looked at our other cotoneaster and found that wasps were into cotoneaster flowers as well as bees.

The clock on my camera tells me that I took the wasp picture before lunch and this one of a young blackbird on our old bench at that time too.

It tells me that it was in the afternoon when I took this picture of the other contender for red flower of the day.

I do know that after all the activity, I sat on a seat to have a rest and was much entertained by a pair of pigeons on our power line. I don’t know much about pigeons but it seemed to me that this display of aerial acrobatics had more to with making love than making war.

It was the way that one of them sidled along the wire towards the other in a hopeful manner before the bursts of flying started that made me think that.

It was such a lovely day that in the end, I couldn’t think of a good excuse not to go for a short cycle ride in spite of feeling a little tired. It was a good decision with light winds and the temperature at 66°F.

The verges were full of cow parsley…

…sometimes mixed with buttercups.

After a couple of energetic days, my legs were not in full working mode today and showed a regrettable Achilles tendency to sulk in their tents instead of joining in the battle. The rest of me was in very good order though so I just pottered slowly along, enjoying the sun on my back and lots of beautiful green trees.

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that May 20th is peak spring so this is just about as good as it gets.

When I got home, I had missed my evening Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters but there is always another day for that.

I put the sprinkler on the middle lawn while we were eating our tea, and then had my first look of the day at the birds on the feeder in the evening light.

They seemed pleased to have a bit of peace after a busy day in the garden.

My twenty mile cycle ride took me over 400 miles for the month. This is a very satisfactory effort for me these days. May has been my best month for distance covered this year and with some good sunny days still to come, I hope to increase the mileage before the thirty-first.

The flying bird of the day is a late evening goldfinch.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  Knowing that I like bridges, he has sent me this magnificent Derbyshire example.

andrew's little bridge

We were promised a hot, sunny day and we got a pleasantly warm and mostly sunny day which was welcome.  The wind was light and I would have liked to have gone out for a really long cycle ride, as this was the first really good cycling day for ages.  However, it was a walking day on my two day rotating walk/cycle schedule and Mrs Tootlepedal rightly pointed out that long cycle rides are against the spirit of the lockdown rules anyway.  So I stayed at home as I should have done.

The fact that we had that rare thing, a fine holiday weekend and light winds, neither of which we could make use of, unsettled me and I couldn’t get a grip on the day at all and I more or less wasted the whole of the good weather by mooching around the garden in a disgruntled mood, taking a lot of not very good pictures of bees.  I didn’t even see a butterfly to lift my mood.

The tulips didn’t care about me and were very happy to see the morning sun.

tulips in sun

And the daffodils, peeking over the back of the topiary chicken, laughed out loud.

bright daffs

And the Honesty looked promising.

honesty

In my search for bees, I saw a bee like object but as it spent a lot of time hovering in one spot before darting off to another, I don’t think it was a bee.   My research tells me that it might be a bee fly but I am open to better suggestions.

flying furry creature

It certainly had a long nose.

flying furry creature close up

Then I saw this.  It looks like a wasp to me.

wasp like creature

I did see some bees.

bees on lamium and comfrey

And of course the blackbird kept its eye on me as I wandered moodily around.

blackbird on hedge

It was a lovely day, about 15°C in the garden and the flowers and shrubs were enjoying life.

four broght flowers

In our next door neighbour Liz’s front garden, a forsythia lights up the street.

liz's forsythia

And the plum blossom is coming along nicely.

plum blossom

I hope some of the bees and other insects get going on the pollinating soon.

I shifted some compost from Bin C into Bin D just for the sake of doing something.  I thought about scarifying the lawn but decided that the forecast weather for the next few days didn’t look quite warm enough to encourage the grass to grow, so I went in and made sweet potato  soup instead.

After lunch, I checked on the bird feeder and found a bird using it…

chaffinch on feeder

…which was a surprise.

Then I sat in the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal and we were serenaded by a song thrush in full voice.  It sang in the walnut tree and then decamped to the roof of a neighbouring house and then came back and sang in the walnut tree again.

song thrush panel

Then I went upstairs to put on my walking socks and inadvertently lay down on my bed and read a book for and hour or so.  I don’t know how that happened.  It happened to Mrs Tootlepedal too.

When we came down, we had a cup of tea and then we had a video call with Matilda who was enjoying a science experiment with her parents in their kitchen.  It produced a very satisfactory amount of brightly coloured foaming liquid.

We followed that up with a Zoom chat with my three sisters and my brother with a late appearance from my brother-in-law.  My oldest sister wore a hat and was very disappointed when we didn’t ask her, “Where did you get that hat?”  She told us anyway.  She got it in New Zealand.

After the call, I went for a quick walk just to stretch my legs and to try and shake off my lethargy.

It was  still warm and calm…

daff reflection pool corner

…but the sky had clouded over and gone a genteel pastel shade.

grey skies

A pheasant showed me who was king of the castle as I crossed the Becks Burn bridge…

pheasant becks burn

…and I went back to the town along Gaskell’s Walk.

old tree gaskells

The path was dotted with wood anemones and there was a lot of golden saxifrage about too…

wood anemone, golden saxifrage, blackthorn

…but very little blossom.  I think that this lonely patch is blackthorn.

After tea, I made some hot cross buns but like the rest of the day, they were vaguely unsatisfactory and I will have to have another try to see if I can make some better ones.  Mrs Tootlepedal said that the one that she tried tasted okay, but they certainly wouldn’t win a prize in a beauty competition.

The bright spot was the appearance of a genuine flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

I will pull myself together and be more cheerful tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s Highland holiday.  He has sent me a lot of good pictures but this one gets my seal of approval.

Tonys highland seal

We had another fine day and I had hoped to get some useful cycling in, but a sore back when I got up put paid to any expansive ideas.  As it happened, it was just as well that I was at home as the power company men turned up to put up a new fence.  The old one had been knocked down when they replaced one of the poles in our garden.

They turned out to be as handy with hammer and saw as they were with big poles and the new fence was soon in place.

new fence

While they worked, I hobbled round the garden doing some weeding, dead heading and snapping.

There was a lot to look at.

I was pleased to see a red admiral butterfly…

red admiral butterfly

…though I would be even more pleased to see more than one.

Poppies and an anemone caught the eye….

poppies and anemone

…and Bobbie James has come out to join  Goldfinch on the fence between the middle lawn and the vegetable garden.

bobbie James and goldfinch roses

I picked some sweet peas and thought that this one was the pick of the bunch.

sweet pea

Mrs Tootlepedal’s new Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica (to give it its Sunday name) proves to be a very interesting plant with a lot going on.

salvia turkestanica

And as always, the astrantias attracted me….

astrantia

…and a great number of wasps as well.

wasp on astrantia

We haven’t found out where the wasps’ nest is yet and just hope that it isn’t in some hole in the roof.

Looking up at the walnut tree, I could see that we should have walnuts to eat again this year.

walnuts July

After the power company men left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I did some watering in the vegetable garden and then I mowed the front lawn , and then it was time for lunch.

Mrs Tootlepedal had Moorland business to attend to after lunch and went off to collect more signatures of interest in the possible purchase while I watched the birds.

A goldfinch took poorly to being menaced by a greenfinch…

goldfinch and greenfinch

….but was fast asleep a moment later to the possibility of getting a rude awakening from a sparrow.

sparrow kicking goldfinch

I got a message from Mrs Tootlepedal that she had forgotten something so I was galvanised into action. I got my cycling gear on, delivered the item and then kept cycling southwards.

I took the main road out of town and stopped to admire the substantial field of daisies on one side of the road…

daisies on new A7

…and two orchids on the other.

orchids at Auchenrivock diversion

I didn’t stop again for a while, as a kindly wind was blowing me down the hill to the end of the Canonbie bypass and I was going too fast to notice much as I passed.

The way back was a slower business altogether, uphill and with an unhelpful wind so I was happy to stop to note hedges thick with honeysuckle and privet…

honeysuckle and privet in hedge

…and a field of interested bullocks.

a load of bullocks

I usually do this route in the opposite direction so I am often whizzing down this hill without looking.

kerr wood road

Today I had time to look and the inclination to take a breather.

kerr wood road wood flowers

The wind helped me along the last three miles and I arrived home after 20 miles in a cheerful frame of mind, considering how sore my back had been when I got up in the morning.

I had a wander round the garden….

foxglove trumpets

…before Mrs Tootlepedal came home and then I went to have a shower.

That concluded the business of the day apart from rather gloomily watching England’s ladies not quite being up to the task of winning their semi final in the world cup in spite of the USA kindly offering them some chances to do so.  The better team won.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow with its eyes on the prize.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from Anne, my cello playing friend Mike’s wife, who came across a very odd looking bird at her daughter’s bird feeder.  I would like to see red squirrels in our garden.

squirrel on birdfeeder

It was one of those days when it was hard to get some satisfactory organisation into my outdoor life thanks to a very indifferent weather forecast.  One thing the forecast did get right was the strong wind which, with frequent  gusts at 30 mph, was quite enough to stop me cycling.

But it couldn’t work out when it was going to rain and in the end, it didn’t rain at all.

This was a bit disappointing in two ways.

Firstly because if you don’t do something because it is going to rain and then it doesn’t rain, then it means that you feel a little foolish.

Secondly, because the post brought me a great treat in the shape of a gift from Mary Jo from Manitoba…

MJ's scientific rain gauge

 

….a genuinely scientific rain gauge which  was no use to me on a day when it didn’t rain.

However, I am reasonably sure that it will come into its own quite soon.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent most of the day in the garden, determined to do as much as possible before it rained and as it didn’t rain, she did a lot.

I did a bit.  I mowed two lawns during the day and picked beans, an onion, spinach and courgettes to make some more green soup.

I took some pictures too.

flowers

We had some sunny spells and it was warm enough to make being out in the garden a pleasure.

There is a lot of yellow crocosmia waiting to come out round the garden and the first flowers have just appeared.

yellow crocosmia

The French marigolds which are protecting the carrots from carrot root fly are worth having just for themselves.

French marigolds

There is plenty of productivity to be seen among the doddering dillies and the rowan berries.

rowan and doddering dillies

Among the tasks that Mrs Tootlepedal accomplished was the first clipping of the remodelled chicken.

new chicken

It has been a patient process.  It looked this in 2016…

topiary chicken

…and then like this after some drastic surgery in April 2017. …

thin chicken

…and then like this in August 2017.

topiary chicken

Mrs Tootlepedal plays a long game.

She also trimmed this year’s growth on some of the espalier apples, revealing a good crop of fruit.

espalier apples

This led to a lot of shredding and we had to put an extra couple of sections onto compost Bin A to stop it overflowing.

While I was making the soup, I watched the birds.  They seem to be fully recovered from the soaking they got a day or two ago…

greenfinch and siskin

…but this hasn’t improved their behaviour.  After chaffinches kicking greenfinches and greenfinches kicking chaffinches, we got greenfinch versus greenfinch today.

kicking greenfinches

When the rain held off after lunch, I went for a walk.

Even after the rain showers that we have had since the weekend, there is still very little water in our rivers….

auld stane brig

…though the water has turned a little browner than usual.

I walked up the road to the the Auld Stane Brig and then went back home by way of Gaskell’s and Easton’s walk.

There was not much moss and lichen to see after the dry spell but there was plenty to catch the eye as I went along.

furry plant

And if I got peckish, I could find wild raspberries to keep me going.

wild raspberry

They were delicious.

I know enough now to expect to find different patterns on the back of ferns.

fern backs

It looks as though there will be a good crop of sloes and acorns this year.

sloe and acorn

It wasn’t hard to spot insects on the flowers beside the tracks.

insects

There were quite a few wasps about.

insect on umbellifer

When I got near the end of my stroll, I went down to the Esk to see of the family of oyster catchers was still about.  They had morphed into two gulls.

gulls on esk

They look like two juvenile lesser black backed gulls to me but I may need correcting by knowledgeable readers.

Mrs Tootlepedal was still hard at work in the garden when I got back so I did a bit of hedge clipping to help.  Mrs Tootlepedal is gradually reducing both the width and the height of the box hedges round the front lawn and this is a very labour intensive job.  The hedges recover remarkably well from this rough treatment.

I hope for more sun and less wind soon as I need to get some cycling miles in.

I did a little work updating the Langholm Walks website.  Langholm has been officially accredited (by an official accreditor) as a walking friendly town and I have added a note of this to the website.

The flying bird of the day is one of our many greenfinch visitors.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to the Isabella Plantation at Richmond Park last week.

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park 29.04.17 004

Our welcome spell of dry and often sunny weather continued today, although once again it came with enough added wind to make my morning pedal down to Canonbie and back quite hard work on the return part of the journey.

I had a quick look round the garden before I set off and was pleased to find another bee hard at work on the apple blossom.

bee on apple blossom

Nearby, the strawberries are just beginning to flower….

strawberry flower

…and I saw a strangely static wasp which looked as though it was glued to a rhubarb stalk.

wasp on rhubarb

I was a bit pushed for time on my cycle ride so I only stopped twice for photographs, once to look at the river near Byreburnfoot….

River Esk

A lot of leaves, not much water.

…and once to look at the bluebells in the wood at Skipperscleuch.  They looked potential from the roadside….

bluebells

…so I left my bike and walked up into the woods.  I was a bit disappointed because although there were bluebells…..

bluebells

…there wasn’t the complete carpet that I was hoping for.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that I am looking a bit too early and they will come out fully soon.  I hope that she is right.

I got back from the ride and as usual, I found Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden.  She was in the greenhouse, preparing things to plant our later….

plants

…although, as you can see on the left of the panel, some things are already out in the vegetable beds under cloches.

She is enjoying the dry soil which is much easier to prepare than the more usual heavy, soggy stuff we get in spring.

I had another quick walk round the flowers and saw the first blossom on the clematis by the back door and a potential allium giving notice of a fruitful flower future…

strawberry, hyacinth and allium

…while the grape hyacinths are beginning to wave goodbye.

The apple bee was really getting down to business and filling its pollen sacs.

bee with pollen

Although Mrs Tootlepedal and I have dead headed a host of golden daffodils, there are still quite a few standing.

daffodil

The cool weather has helped them last for a long time this year.

The geums under the feeders are looking superb.

geums

After I came in from the garden, I had time for a shower and a light lunch and then we got into the car and drove to Dumfries where we visited the Infirmary and I had a small and painless operation to remove a skin tag from my eyelid and then Mrs Tootlepedal drove me home again.

Always keen to combine business and pleasure, she worked in a visit to the council civic amenity waste site (The Dump) on our way and dumped some of the wood from our old compost bin and several buckets of unwanted stones from the garden.

We arrived home in a cheerful mood.

My lawn co-workers were busy excavating the moss from the middle lawn.

jackdaws

They are jackdaws.

jackdaws

While I was out thanking the jackdaws for their tireless toiling, I took a look into the mystery of the dark heart of one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s Alnwick tulips.

tulip

I was just about to cook my tea when Sandy rang up and suggested that I should go out into the garden and look up.  I did.

This is what I saw.

strange cloud

The oddest cloud that I have ever seen was rising from behind the trees…..

strange cloud

…and stretching half way across the sky.  It was so long and thin that I couldn’t get it all in one shot.

Even Sandy, who was a bit further away, couldn’t quite get it all in.  He sent me this shot.

strange cloud

The cloud ended rather like a feather just to the right of Sandy’s shot.

The conditions that could cause a cloud like this are a complete mystery to me.  I thought that perhaps it might be a con trail from a long departed aeroplane which had condensed as the temperature dropped in the evening but Mrs Tootlepedal, and others who saw it, were of the opinion that it definitely was just a cloud, although a very strange one indeed.

Apart from it, there was not another cloud in the sky.

Once again, I didn’t have much time to look at birds and this goldfinch was the best that I could manage as flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

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