Friday, 11 August 2017

Visiting insects this summer

I took a tour around the garden with the macro lens and captured a few lovely insects visiting my wildlife friendly garden.

Hoverfly volucella zonaria, at 20mm in length it's our largest hoverfly. Also known as the Belted Hoverfly, it's more common in southern England (info courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts).

This insect has moved house with me a few times now, the marvellous looking Vapourer moth caterpillar above, male adult moth below. So long as you don't mind them eating your plants you can really enjoy them in your garden.

And here is one of the caterpillars making it's cocoon on the underside of a geranium leaf.

Some lovely visiting bees, I like the pale coloured pollen sac on this bee

I really wasn't sure what bee this was, but it's small and rather lovely. Is it a male Common Carder Bee?

Hoverflies on these yellow flowers by my front door

This spider carries it's eggs around, I'm not keen on spiders in my home but happy to have them in the garden. However I just can't look them up for ID purposes as close up's give me the creeps!

More hoverflies, this one is quite small and on a erigeron flower, I've noticed that this plant really attracts hoverflies.

A lovely bee with its yellow and orange colouring on lavender. I struggled to identify this one but is it a Bilberry Bumblebee?

Not in perfect focus! That's the trouble with the macro lens, the lavender is in focus in the photo below and the bee is a little fuzzy.

It had just started to rain and I caught two tiny raindrops on its head as it turned around (and in focus).

I don't know if you've seen this website but I found a citizen science project called Blooms for Bees which is all about surveying flowers to help improve gardening for bumblebees. It's really worth a visit with lots of information.

I hope you are all well
Until next time

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Jane Austen's Letter at Torquay Museum

On Thursday I was determined to go to Torquay Museum and see Jane Austen's letter to her sister Cassandra, which was written in 1799.

The letter is rarely on display so it was a real treat to be able to see it and I haven't had the opportunity to go to Chawton in Hampshire to the house museum to see other items.

There is a reflection on the glass case in the photo above, but this is from the museum's overhead lighting - just to assure you that I did not use the flash which would of course damage this fragile letter.

I checked with the museum that I was allowed to take a photo and also put it on the blog, so here it is folks.

There have been news items which discuss the possibility of this letter being sold. It is true that the museum have considered this to raise funds, but at the moment the letter is still in their possession and I hope they can keep it that way.

The contents of the letter are delightful and fun. If you're a Jane Austen fan you can see her humour coming through just as it does in her writing.

I'm so glad I went to see it as I may never have that chance again, especially if the letter goes to a private collector in the future. As a Jane Austen fan it was a special treat.

Until next time

Friday, 19 May 2017

Spring Flowers and Humming-bird Hawk-moth

Beautiful apple blossom

 A stunning little apple tree I bought last year-tough and sturdy it withstands the easterly and westerly winds in the north facing front garden

Pulmonaria-looking great this year and giving the bees a valuable early food source. This was a little plant given to me by my friend Anne many years ago. I propagate it regularly and it's moved house many times.

Another favourite- Geum (unknown name) bought many years ago from Dove Cottage Nursery at a plant fair and another house mover. Sadly it doesn't attract many insects. However this has been the best year for it in many years as it usually gets mildew.

Looks lovely mixed into the garden as the flowers stand well above the leaves 

Frost is not a thing we see in Torbay very often but early in December we had a very hard frost and it produced a beautiful mist across the bay.

Percy was not impressed and decided to get comfortable in his snuggle bag.

Boo snoozing in the long warm spell of weather in April and probably the driest spring we've had for many years

A garden project-ugly wall

Transformed with the help of the front of an old beach hut they were clearing off site, a chainsaw and two strong men (husband and gardener friend Chris).

Decorating is finally finished, I love this wood panel effect wallpaper in the hall.

A quick catch up on the house and garden, and the first time I had a moment to myself , I should have posted this weeks ago.

Best of all I've had a humming-bird hawk-moth in the garden feeding on Centranthus ruber (red valerian). I was able to get quite close and see it feeding on the flowers. last a photo in focus, very hard to do as it moves so quickly.

Only the third time in my life I've ever seen one.

Until next time

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Torbay Humpback Whale Update

I tried very hard to get some photos, but I was so excited. It was hard to concentrate and not want to just put the camera down and enjoy the whale via binoculars instead. So here are the 'not very good' photos I managed to get. Below - splashes from the tail slap.

In the photo below the whale has breached the water and is splashing down, you can just make out a tiny bit of the body if you look very hard and use your imagination!

The blowhole spray, which is what I noticed first out in the water, a huge mist which looked like a ghostly windsurfer. I couldn't make it out so I got up to take a closer look with binoculars.

Just managed to catch the tail...if you look very closely

This whale has had a few adventures around our coast, it managed to get trapped in fishing line and was rescued twice in a short period of time at the end of March and in early April, see the photos from the RNLI here as they cut it free.

On April 11th the same whale was apparently seen in Falmouth (identified by the rope burns around the tail) and you can see fabulous photos here and a video. However now they think it was a different whale.

Maybe next year we'll be treated to the same delights and I can only hope that in twelve months we'll be a step closer to caring more for our wonderful oceans and the creatures that live in them....but then again maybe not!

You may be interested in the story concerning one of the worlds biggest cruise operators 'Princess Cruises' and the illegal dumping of their waste into our seas over many years.

Until next time

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Minack Theatre

Another forgotten post. We booked tickets for The Minack to see a comedy and were very lucky with the weather.

Originally owned and built in the 1930's by Rowena Cade (and her gardener Billy Rawlings), The Minack Theatre is simply wonderful.

Fantastic views of Porthcurno Beach where Rowena Cade used many tons of sand to help build the concrete used for the seating.

Gannets flying over us and behind the stage

The Miracle Theatre Company performing The Magnificent Three

The Moon coming up

End of the evening after the performance

Absolutely worth a visit if you're down that way
Until next time

Friday, 31 March 2017

The Fairmile RML 497 Update

I'm absolutely delighted to report that this wonderful boat has been bought with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund by the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) and will be an important attraction in the historic dockyard in Portsmouth.

Head of Heritage Development at the NMRN, Nick Hewitt, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has supported us in acquiring RML 497. She’s an amazing survivor, full of original features and still fully operational, which is incredible for a wooden warship built for ‘hostilities only’ service during the Second World War.

“When she comes to Portsmouth she’ll be entering a whole new phase of her long life, and I’m sure our visitors will be just as excited as we are to step aboard her and see Portsmouth’s amazing naval heritage from the deck of a real warship.”

Extract Ref:

You can read the whole story here.

Here are some of my photos from Brixham when Greenway Ferry Company owned her and she sailed across the bay every summer.

Greenway Ferry Company spent a huge amount of money restoring and maintaining her which also included restoration to her original wartime colours

We were lucky enough to sail on her over to Slapton Sands a few years ago in remembrance of the fallen of WWII Exercise Tiger Tragedy at Slapton Sands.

Brixham Harbour and the Fairmile

It's such a shame she couldn't be kept in the bay, as she looked spectacular crossing the waters however the National Museum of the Royal Navy is a perfect resting place.

I hope you get to see her there
Until next time