26th September 2015

A  wonderful Hummingbird Hawkmoth visited the Buddleia today so it was a real red-letter day! Not only that, this fast and very hard to photograph day-flying moth stayed long enough to get a few photo’s. This great moth, which hovers on rapid-beating wings and feeds through an extraordinarily long proboscis, on long-tubed flowers, migrates here from Africa each year! The Hummingbird Hawkmoth is spreading its range all over the UK and, due to climate change, it even overwinters occasionally now, hiding in crevices. If you spot one of these wonderful moths, go on the Butterfly Conservation site and log the sighting. Conditions: A warm, still, autumnal day of sun and cloud. Temperature: Max 16- Min 8c.

The Hummingbird Hawkmoth shivering, showing its burnished orange wings

The Hummingbird Hawkmoth hovering, showing its burnished orange wings

This moth hovers while feeding through its extra long proboscis

This moth hovers while feeding through its extra long proboscis

It feeds on flowers with long tubes, like Buddleia, Nicotiana and Vipers Bugloss

It feeds on flowers with long tubes, like Buddleia, Nicotiana and Vipers Bugloss

Between feeds the moth curls its proboscis

Between feeds the moth curls its proboscis

This shows its proboscis, poised to enter a boodle flower, and its black and white checkered body.

This shows its proboscis, poised to enter a Buddleia flower, and its black and white checkered body.

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25th September 2015

White Bryony: one of my favourite plants, this poisonous climber with fascinating green flowers (and IMG_3031

The berries turn from green to red. They are poisonous.

The berries turn from green to red. They are poisonous.

not related to Black Bryony!) grows mostly in the south but I saw these recently in East Yorkshire. Also known as English Mandrake, Green, in his 19th century herbal, described how ‘knaves’ would place a mold in the shape of a human body around the roots IMG_3040as they grew, and try to sell it as genuine Mandrake, whose hallucinogenic properties led to beliefs about the genuine Mandrake having magic qualities. In the 14th century, White Bryony was called Wild Nepit, and was thought able to treat leprosy. White Bryony has the most fantastic tendrils which, unusually, twist both anti-clockwise and clockwise. The tendrils of White Bryony catch onto a supporting ‘host’ and then contract into a tight coil, securing the climber as it grows several metres high. Conditions: Back up north, sun and cloud. Temperature: Max 16- Min 8c.

Fascinating green flowers of White Bryony

Fascinating green flowers of White Bryony

23rd September 2015

The Himalayan Balsam, a relative of the harmless Busy Lizzie, and the fastest growing annual in the UK, achieving up to 2.5 metres in a single season, is causing increasing problems for the ecological balance of our wetlands and damp areas. This invasive species, introduced as a garden plant in 1839, can produce 800 seeds per plant and eject the seeds, with its amazing catapult action, over 4 metres. It is an offence under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act to enable its spread. If you want to know how to eradicate it, the great wild flower charity ‘Plantlife’  tells you how (and why not join Plantlike at the same time!). Although it smothers other plants, Bees, Wasps and flies do like to feed from it, gathering pollen onto their backs as they do so, as you can see from the photos. They use the wide petals as landing platforms. Conditions: A wonderfully sunny day down south. Temperature: Max 17- Min 13c.

A Bee approaches the landing platform.

A Bee approaches the landing platform.

Entering the tube of the flower, to reach the nectar, they gather pollen on their backs and then pollinate other flowers they visit.

Entering the tube of the flower, to reach the nectar, they gather pollen on their backs and then pollinate other flowers they visit.

Wasps pollinate the flowers too

Wasps pollinate the flowers too

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22nd September 2015

More

This Orb web curved wonderfully

This Orb web curved wonderfully

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Orb spider webs– I know I posted some a few days back, but, with a busy day ahead, these taken on Sunday also showed the beautiful sights around on dewy autumn mornings when the sun is low in the sky. Without the sun on them they all but disappear from view, One was particularly impressive, as it was huge and curved across several stems. Conditions: Another early morning of torrential showers in East Sussex, with more showers forecast. Temperature: Max 13- Min 9c.

21st September 2015

Yellow Horned Poppy– the shingle and sand beaches of the south-east coast are the most likely place to see this lovely Poppy, flowering from June to September. The least likely coasts are those in the north-east or in Scotland. The name derives from the long (up to 30cm), curved seed pods that resemble horns. Its’ common names- Bruiseroot and Squatmore refer to the belief that it could help heal bruising, squat being another name for bruise, apparently. If crushed, this plant, with its beautiful glaucous leaves, oozes a yellow fluid which is poisonous. Conditions: Cloud turning into solid rain. Temperature: Max 16- Min 10c.

Yellow Horned Poppy, with its glaucous leaves and long, curved seed-pods

Yellow Horned Poppy, with its glaucous leaves and long, curved seed-pods

Typical habitat for Yellow Horned Poppy- shingle beach at Bexhill

Typical habitat for Yellow Horned Poppy- shingle beach at Bexhill

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20th September

Parasol Mushrooms– almost certainly. If it is, this would be very tasty, but Parasols are easily mistaken for highly poisonous fungi so don’t try them unless you are very experienced and sure. Experts suggest you don’t eat them unless you take a spore print first, and always check that the ring moves up and down the stem, which it does on the Parasol. This big fungi,IMG_1379IMG_1757 IMG_1756 grows in woodland clearances, grassy fields and lawns, mostly in the south, where I am again. It will sometimes grow on grassy cliffs further north. Conditions: After heavy rain last week, and before the predicted heavy rains tomorrow, there have been two gloriously sunny days down south. Temperature: Max 19- Min 13c.

16th September 2015

Yellow Waterlily – These native waterlilies thrive in still or slow moving waters and we saw them on a local canal recently. Their lily-pads are around 12 inches across and more oval than the other native White Waterlilies, Holding their heads on stems above the water, they are also known as Spatterdocks and Brandy Bottles. The latter is thought by some to be due to their smell of wine dregs and by others as due to the unusual shape of their seed-heads, shown in the photo’s. Like other waterlilies, their stems grow quickly, enabling them to quickly position leaves on the water-surface, even when water-levels go up and down. They provide

Native Yellow Waterlilies hold their heads above water-level

Native Yellow Waterlilies hold their heads above water-level

Yellow Waterlily, also known an Spatterdock or Brandy Bottle

Yellow Waterlily, also known an Spatterdock or Brandy Bottle

Yellow Waterlily seed pods.

Yellow Waterlily seed pods.

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good cover for many water creatures. Conditions: A largely cloudy day with some sunny intervals. Temperature: 13-10c.