Sunday, 30 June 2013

Sunday Afternoon In Azay le Rideau

We are suckers for a Vide Grenier or Brocante, so when we saw that Azay le Rideau was holding  its sixth "Antiquites et Brocante and the weather was perfect, our Sunday was sorted!

 The event was held down by the river and, with the trees providing shade, the setting was just right for such a warm, sunny day..

We thought of you Gaynor...
but though we love you to bits, there's a price limit beyond which even the strongest friendship is tested!!

In fact, just like the chap in the photo, we needed to sit down when we'd read the price tickets. Some were out of this world,
and on another planet!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Braye's Wild Flower Meadow

This is the second  year the field next but one to our house has been designated a wild flower meadow. Over the past week the flowers have started to appear above the grass and last evening I went to take a closer look.

The meadow took on a different appearance depending where I stood and the sunlight, getting lower in the sky, was glorious.

The first and last shots look back towards the house, (the poplars outline three sides of the garden)
I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed seeing the flowers..

Friday, 28 June 2013


These two little fellows were photographed a couple of days ago very precariously hopping around our 'bird spotting' Christmas tree.

They have caused us some problems in their identification... We watched them for a good while to see if an adult bird came near but no such luck.

Based on the birds we have around at the moment, together with Google image searches, our best guess is they are Black Redstarts.

Whatever they are, we enjoyed their antics trying to master hopping and flying from branch to branch. We have kept watching the tree but have not seen them since.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

STERF Butterfly Atlas Project June 2013

We chose today to do the butterfly survey for June as the weather was favourable to see butterflies in flight. The difference between this year's count for June and last year's was soon pretty obvious. To take an example:
June 2012  -  Marbled White (Melanargia galathea)  -  94
June 2013  -  Marbled White (Melanargia galathea)  -  10

The pattern was repeated with other species, though not quite so dramatically....
June 2012  -  Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)  -  42
June 2013  -  Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)  -  21

The only species which bucked this trend was the Meadow Brown with 14 counted last year and over 40 today.

All in all the butterflies were outnumbered by a selection of dragonflies, damsel flies and demoiselles..

They may not have been what we set out to spot but they certainly make for some colourful photographs!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Green Bug Day

Today has been a "Green Bug Day" here. First to make an appearance was this gorgeously coloured specimen..

A quick search to attempt an identity left us none the wiser, so would welcome any thoughts, please.

Next came another Green Bug - we think this one's a Rosechafer.

At first it was almost hidden inside the peony flower where it seemed to be enjoying the nectar, but very obligingly it emerged for this photo shoot...

And what a lovely background the peony flower makes, too! They are really stunning while they last; it's just a pity they are over so soon. Still, there are plenty more flowers for the bugs to enjoy..

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Collared Doves

Last winter we had a pair of Collared Doves regularly feeding underneath the bird table.

A few days ago we noticed they had built their nest in the Christmas tree adjacent to the bird table and within a couple metres of our rear terrace.

Interestingly in the Wikipedia page on collared doves it makes note that they always nest close to human habitation. It also says that the male incubates during the day and the female at night and last night I was lucky enough to see a changeover. The female bird arrived with a coo coo coo and perched adjacent, the male left and she took over. Great to see.

We think they have been incubating for about a week so a few more days to go before we hopefully see the chicks. You have to give them credit as the nest is towards the top of the tree and they have sat there through all the wind and rain of the past few days.

We hope they are successful...

Tim; Do you think we should put some bird food out for them?

Monday, 24 June 2013

Cherry Picker...

Our cherries are not plentiful again this year and this morning we caught our old enemy helping himself....

 Can you see who it is yet?

Yes; It's that pesky woodpecker we only ever see when there is food around...

There is only one solution. It worked last year with the Hazelnuts, tomorrow we will see if it works with the cherries!!!

If that fails then we will be trying our recipe for Stuffed Woodpecker! but this time it will be stuffed with cherries!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Painted Lady

The unseasonal weather of 2013 has been bad news for many of our butterflies and this has been born out by the results of our STERF Butterfly Atlas surveys.

However, there have been one or two individuals which seemed to be coping despite the unfavourable conditions.

One of these was a Painted Lady (Vanessa Cardui), flying today in winds gusting at around 28km per hour.

In a 1979 study by Gibo and Pallet, 30km per hour was determined as the wind speed cut-off point for Monarch Butterflies and in 2007, Jessica Grealey and David Stephenson, studying the effect of wind turbines on butterflies, concluded:
"Butterflies ...will not fly....when wind speeds are in excess of force five on the Beaufort wind scale -- 30 kilometers per hour (km/h) to 39 km/h [18.6-24.2 mph]."

So our Painted Lady was possibly flying at near the top end of acceptable wind speed.

Perhaps this is why it spent such a long time feeding on our Verbena bonariensis and was happy to pose for the camera!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Untidy Pad or What - An Apology!

On 17th June we wrote a post about the messy nest built by Black Redstarts over our front door..

Tim, of Aigronne Valley Wildlife, kindly put a comment on the post suggesting that the disarray was caused by fledglings leaving the nest.

Well, we were perhaps a little hasty to judge, because over the past few days the nest has had a make-over. It's not quite in the Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen league but it is certainly a good deal neater.

Also the parent birds are visiting the nest box frequently which suggests there are eggs or young to care for.

Tim could well have been right and this could be a second brood getting star treatment from the parents. We have seen young Black Redstarts around the garden frequently over the past few days, including this little one hiding amongst the flower pots..

But whether the make-over is because of a second brood or just part of the process of initial nest building, we must apologise to the Black Redstarts for accusing them of having an untidy pad. We know only too well from first-hand experience what a messy job building and renovating properties can be!