Friday 27 November 2015

Grub up!

I found this grub when tending to my leaf mould pile. The pile was made up with the 2014 autumn leaves and has been undisturbed since then. The grub is about 5cm long. I am unsure whether it is the larva of a stag beetle or a cockchafer since I get both species emerging in the garden in early summer.

I returned the grub carefully to a part of the pile that will not be disturbed for some time.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

October in my garden

Both of these caterpillars walked across in front of me one afternoon.

The first is a pine hawk moth, hyloicus pinastri. Unsurprisingly, I was standing under a pine tree when I saw it!

The second is a pale tussock moth, calliteara pudibunda. This feeds on a range of shrubs, so I don't know which it eats in my garden.

Now to the fungi! It seems to have been a particularly prolific year for them here.

A birch polypore has appeared on the same tree as last year.

These are new to me. There is a huge number of these growing in one of my raised beds. I believe they are white domecaps, lyophyllum connatum. I think some spores must have come in with the compost.

I have five or six of these around my grassed areas. I am fairly sure that they are boletes, boletus cisalpinus.

The blue staining in the cut stem and the bruised pores are indicative of this species.

Another common one. There are lots of these common earthballs around the garden. They seemed to start really early this year and I have never seen so many before.

These are not the only fungi in the garden. There are several others. Small ones in the grass and huge clumps on the old tree stumps, but I have not got round to recording all of them! Perhaps I'll photograph a different set next year.

Thursday 27 August 2015

This week's finds

Still getting some sun between the showers so bugs and butterflies are still around the garden.


There have been a few holly blues spending some time here. They were usually looking for nectar sources.  One, pictured left, liked the veronica, while another, right, seemed to prefer heather.

I have pictured a few bugs on the blog this year. Up to now, they have all been adults but I've found some nymphs lately. The first one, left, is a very early stage of the hawthorn shieldbug, acanthosoma haemorrhoidale. The nymphs go through about five stages called instars. They moult their skin at the end of each stage. The nymph here is tiny (only 2-3 mm long) and is probably a first instar.

Below is another nymph. This time it's a much later instar, probably fourth, of the common green shieldbug, palomena prasina. It appears to be feeding on the pollen of a cosmos flower but that may be misleading as they are meant to live on sap from trees and shrubs.

Monday 17 August 2015


A bit worn out from all the gatekeeping! This butterfly took time out for a drink of nectar from the August heather. Lucky for the insects, there's a heather in bloom nearly every month of the year in this garden.

Sunday 16 August 2015

Woody's back!

This woodpecker is living up to his name. He is pecking lots of holes in this dead birch tree. Some are big enough for him to get right inside the tree. Others are smaller and shallower. Is he creating nest holes or are the holes just ways of getting to the wood boring beetle larvae that must surely inhabit the decaying wood? He (or another male) made a deep hole last year but did not use it as a nest.

Friday 14 August 2015

Two more bugs

Another invasive foreigner here. This is the rhododendron leafhopper, graphocephala fennahi. It was introduced into Europe from the USA in the early 1900s. This one is an adult.

Both adult and nymph feed on the sap of rhododendron bushes. So it is one of the very few pests of rhododendrons. Some people would say we could do with a few more!

The pond skater, gerris lacustris, is another bug. These insects are carnivorous, preying mainly on other insects which fall onto the water surface. They rely on surface tension and non-wetting legs to walk on the water.

Sunday 9 August 2015

More darters

Freshly emerged overnight, two female common darters were still sitting on the bushes near the pond at midday today. From the evidence of their exuviae, left on the water iris stems, there must have been a third somewhere!

Saturday 8 August 2015

Bug and butterfly

I found this bug yesterday in the garden. It's a red legged shieldbug, pentatoma rufipes. The nymphs live on oak trees so it's not surprising really since there are oak trees overhanging the garden.

Today's visitor was a common blue butterfly. Apparently they are becoming scarcer so I'm pleased we still have them here.

Thursday 30 July 2015

Toad today!

I found this toad in my garage today. It seemed to be trapped in there so I brought it out and it walked off happily into the undergrowth near the pond.

Maybe it has friends in the garden. I hope so. I have an excess of slugs and snails which could do with some natural control.

Sunday 19 July 2015

Today at the pond

 I noticed a blue tailed damselfly, ischnura elegans, at the pond today. That's only the second one I've seen. This one is a female of the violet form.

There were also two more exuviae from common darters - but I have not seen any of the darters yet this year!

Saturday 4 July 2015

Darters have bred!

Last August I recorded common darters laying eggs in my front pond and posted a picture. The original large picture is here.

Today I found three exuviae of common darters on the leaves of my water iris. So the pond has successfully bred common darters along with a host of azure damsels and large red damsels.

Thursday 14 May 2015

A walk in the woods

It's bluebell time! Yesterday I went for a walk with Petra in one of our local bluebell woods.

It was just a sea of blue.

I don't think I have ever seen such a mass of bluebells before.

Let's hope these woods are preserved for the future.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Masses of eggs.

I've never come across these before. They are egg masses laid by a water snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, sometimes known as the the great pond snail. My garden pond is full of these snails this year and there are large quantities of the egg masses laid on leaves which have fallen in the water.

When out of the water the egg masses look like transparent jellies, up to about an inch long.

There can be up to 120 eggs in each mass! So plenty of snails next year.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Garden wildlife

After my walk on Chantry Hill I was relaxing in the evening in my garden when I noticed a little visitor on one of my birdfeeders.

It looks like it was a yellow necked mouse. It was bigger than the usual wood mice that we see. It enjoyed a good meal of sunflower seeds.

A walk on Chantry Hill

A sunny day on Monday, so a walk on the downs. There was plenty to see. A fox carrying a mouthful of freshly caught prey; ravens, kestrel and buzzards; yellowhammers and tree pipits; grey partridges running; skylarks singing.  The grass was full of violets and cowslips. The blackthorn was in full flower. I met two lizards, running across my foot! So much to see, it's a place I'll be going again.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Cup fungus

I found this strange rubbery cup fungus in one of my gravel patches today.

I haven't been able to identify it but it looks similar to peziza types.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

First butterflies in the garden

Yesterday was sunny and there were several brimstones passing through the garden.

Today I went out to see the heather buzzing merrily with bees and found my first comma of the year trying it out too.

Where do I Walk?

Mainly around the National Trust land at Washington Common and Warren Hill in West Sussex. I also spend some time around my old Steyning walks and other interesting places in West Sussex.