Monday, 7 June 2010

Summer Time

The British Summer, according to the old adage, consists of 'three fine days and a thunderstorm'. That particular bit of optimistic, sage wisdom, seemed to have been proven over the past few days as the heat gave way to yesterday's heavy rain, lightning and thunder. But, as we had to make a trip to Norfolk to take my mother back home after her holiday, it didn't matter much.
With the sunnier days, the buttercups in the fields are looking particularly good. This field near West Hallam village, is a fine example.  They are so numerous, they look more like a field of Rape Seed, but Buttercups they are....
Today, as we walked around the Straw's Bridge ponds we were treated to the sight of several House Martins (Delichon urbicum) flying in to the edge of a flooded field, to gather fresh mud for building or repairing their nests. It took some time to get a shot of these very shy birds and I only then manged it from a good distance away. These tiny birds have an energetic life, migrating several thousand miles to Britain from sub-Saharan Africa each year in order to breed, before returning in late Summer or Early Autumn - not a bad feat for something weighing only about half an ounce.
While on the subject of migratory birds, there has been a lot of excitement over the last few weeks about a Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) which has strayed from it's normal Summer breeding grounds on the continent, and has set up home (for the first time ever in Derbyshire), on one of the Straw's Bridge ponds (I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago). Well, the bird is still in residence in it's small patch of reeds and still singing his heart out trying desperately to attract a mate (poor thing) and this morning, Malcolm and I got our best views of this elusive bird as it sat in the tops of the reeds to sing rather than skulking deeper down , out of sight. It was still a long way away and partially concealed by the reeds, but I did manage to get a picture at last...
Two pictures from our garden to end with. Firstly, a small bee feasting on the Pyracantha flowers. Much smaller than a Honey Bee, It took some time to identify it, but it turns out to be a Yellow-legged Mining Bee (Andrena flavipes). Very busy as a bee should be, it was taking no notice of my prying lens.
Lastly, an even smaller creature. Although not easily visible itself, everyone will be familiar with the frothy masses of 'Cuckoo Spit' which adorn the plants in Spring. This froth is the protective home of the nymph of the Common Froghopper (Philaenus spumarius) living within it. In this picture, it is just possible to see the greenish colour of the nymph within the froth attached to the leaves of our Lavender plant.
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