2 November 2021 : it was a beautiful Autumn day for a walk. Making the most of travelling across Kent to collect drawings from Whitstable I decided to stop at Dering Wood, between Pluckley and Smarden. Managed by the Woodland Trust, this small sanctuary of ancient, semi natural woodland is full of wildlife.
Looking back through my photos today I was reminded that I spent a lot of time watching the insect activity around a topiary Holly bush that I have been training for many years. I didn't take as many photos as I had thought but I do remember stopping regularly on my way to the studio, attracted by the buzzing noises.
Back in May, close investigation revealed an infestation of Blackfly and various insects were converging to feed on the sweet sugar excretions as well as the aphids.
I recently had a conversation with a fellow artist, Catherine Greenwood, about Artist Residencies and she mentioned that she once had a residency in an edible hedge.
I feel I a bit like I've just had a residency in my Raspberry patch - now I get it Catherine!
I've realised that this year has been a bumper year for Hoverflies but until a few days ago I hadn't seen a single common or germanic wasp.
How would you like to be paralysed, partially strangled and buried alive ... taking at least 2 days to die?
Now we begin the annual conundrum - is it a large or a small?
Caught in action, photographing the wildlife in St James's Park London
It's unusual for me to walk the meadow late afternoon but I wanted to see if there were any caterpillars on the Ragwort, Senecio jacobaea
The knapweed is in flower in my meadow and there are hoverflies everywhere!
I walk every morning before breakfast, usually just a short loop up to the church, past the pond to feed the mallards and moorhens and then home. Occasionally I need to go food shopping and I take the opportunity to walk up through Little Switzerland.
My Weigelia florida variegata is heavily in flower and yesterday it was buzzing with bees. They almost climb into the flower to reach the nectar and didn't seem bothered that I was trying to take photos.
I noticed one bee looked a little odd ...
I take it all back ... a few days of sunshine and the garden is positively buzzing and I've never noticed such a variety of bees here before.
An impromptu trip to Marden Meadow to celebrate the start of #30DaysWild
Although I am convinced that the creatures mating on my fritillaries are lily beetles, you do need to be careful as there are other red beetles around at the moment that look similar.
I've been struggling to grow Snakeshead Fritillaries in my mini meadow for years and this year a small proportion of the one hundred bulbs flowered. But how on earth did the lily beetles find them so fast?
I'm sometimes asked how I spot so many insects, so here's my attempt to explain. Tuning into the insect world involves a complex combination of hearing and seeing.
The heavy rain yesterday brought a juvenile blackbird down onto the patio in search of food.
Last night I followed a twitter thread debating the pros and cons of beekeeping versus supporting the increase in our native pollinators.
Sitting quietly in the garden a few years ago I noticed that the corner post in my vegetable patch was popular with the insects.
In 2014 I created a mini meadow outside my studio and relaxed my long running debate with having a cropped lawn in the rest of the garden. Despite stealthily mowing round the Birds Foot Trefoil ("I couldn't mow the bees!"), overall the main lawn has been kept loosely sheared.
But now I've discovered a middle ground through the charity Plantlife - No Mow May
With more than 97000 weevils in the world it's going to be quite tricky to properly identify this one even with a decent photograph (which this is not!).
A few weeks ago by chance I met the local Swift expert at the church pond. A pair of Swift like birds had arrived but Alison assured me these were Swallows as the Swifts don't arrive until the 8th May.
If I had known then what I know now
I would have started this diary years ago
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