Juvenile song thrush, Christophstal June 2018
There were a couple of juvenile song thrushes down by the pond this morning.
This morning we went to Obertal to see whether the deadly nightshade we saw a couple of years ago is still there. It is and it is looking good.
The hornbeams between us and the tuchfabrik have been radically trimmed, so with all the noise and disruption, not much has been going on in the garden. Still, we did have a visit from a bullfinch and we can now see further across the valley so we can spot things like this song thrush in full song. Once again, my camera decided to focus on the tree rather than the thrush, but it was quite a long way away.
Deadly nightshade, Obertal June 2018
Male bullfinch, Christophstal June 2018
Song thrush, Christophstal June 2018
Female Gomphus pulchellus, Christophstal June 2018
While scything the bracken in our meadow, I spotted this dragonfly. Thanks to Herr Gänßler, our local dragonfly expert, who identified it as a female Gomphus pulchellus.
It being a warm day and midsummer to boot, I decided to put the moth trap out. It was a really good night with three new garden species: a Festoon, a Rosy Footman and a micro - Olindia schumacherana.
Festoon, Christophstal June 2018
Rosy footman, Christophstal June 2018
Olindia schumacherana, Christophstal June 2018
Worm casts?, Sankenbachtal June 2018
This is actually a photo that should have gone on yesterday's post, but I'm adding it today so as not confuse things. This is something we spotted in a puddle beside the path walking up to Sankenbachsee. We presume those little mud towers are worm casts.
I've got a couple of photos of some spiders from the garden today. The first is probably just a very colourful garden spider. The second is a female wolf spider guarding her egg sac.
There were quite a few butterflies flying around today although it was quite windy and not particularly sunny. This common blue had a small wing deformity so I was able to see it several times at different places and I know for certain that this was the only individual around today.
The formica ants are farming the black fly in our thistle garden. These ants are a favourite of the wryneck so we like to keep them happy until his visit in August.
A flock of wood pigeons flew over the house today. There's a white one in there somewhere.
We've not seen water lilies on the pond before, but there are suddenly quite a few. One word: propogules!
How about this tough looking goldfinch? Noone is messing with this bad boy.
After yesterday's mystery bird and me thinking it might have been a spotted flycatcher - today there was a spotted flycatcher about.
Here's a photo of a kestrel calling from the top of the conifer.
And finally, here's a photo of a black redstart fledgling.
Spider, Christophstal June 2018
Female wolf spider with egg sac, Christophstal June 2018
Common blue, Christophstal June 2018
Red ants farming black fly, Christophstal June 2018
Pigeons, Christophstal June 2018
Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal June 2018
Water lilies, Christophstal June 2018
Goldfinch, Christophstal June 2018
Calling kestrel, Christophstal June 2018
Black redstart fledgling, Christophstal June 2018
Black hairstreak, Christophstal June 2018
I was delighted to record the 43rd butterfly species for the garden today; this fine, fresh black hairstreak. This is a really rare species nowadays.
This Nemophora metallica moth is a new species for the garden.
The caterpillars are from 15 eggs that were left in my moth trap from a few nights ago. They're still only at T2, so they're almost impossible to identify yet. I've checked the list of what was in the trap that night and I think they're probably one of the ermines - either white ermine, buff ermine or muslin moth.
We're sort-of expecting to see baby squirrels at some stage but we're not sure what they'll look like. This one lacked the ear tufts and looked young.
We've been hearing a strange bird around the house for the last few days. The song sounds like a blackcap but lacks the familiar ending. I've heard a common whitethroat sing similarly. Today I traced the song to this individual. It looks like a spotted flycatcher - but they don't sing like that - so I'm thinking it must be a juvenile blackcap.
Towards the end of the day, we were really pleased to see this male red backed shrike in the usual place on the conifer. This is the first one we've seen this year.
Nemophora metallica, Christophstal June 2018
Caterpillars TBI, Christophstal June 2018
Young red squirrel, Christophstal June 2018
Juvenile blackcap?, Christophstal June 2018
Red-backed shrike, Christophstal June 2018
Unknown weevil ex. larva found on Spignel, Christophstal June 2018
Red squirrel, Christophstal June 2018
The mystery caterpillar that Christine found on spignel a few weeks back wasn't a caterpillar after all. Today, a weevil emerged. It was a bit weedy and seemed to be unable to stand.
There have been a lot of squirrels around recently.
Finally, the thundery weather has broken and today was dry and hot. The warm weather has brought out all the butterflies and other insects. Here's a photo of a bee with pink pollen sacks and a rather pretty black fly hovering around our insect hotels which we've identified as Anthrax anthrax. Although it looks pretty, the reason for the interest in our insect hotels was because this species parasitizes other insects that use the insect hotels and this female was flicking eggs into the holes.
Our thistle garden is looking really good, but it's not quite ready to attract goldfinches, so we were surprised to see a pair in the garden today. We later spotted them in the front garden, destroying our scabious!
We decided to walk up to our favourite butterfly and plant location.
We found this open violet seedhead on the way up.
I've never seen a burnet moth in this area so I was really surprised when Christine pointed this one out. It's going to have to go down as a 5 spot burnet sp. as it isn't really possible to tell the different species apart without dissecting them.
There were a lot of black-veined whites - in contrast to the last couple of years where we've hardly seen any. Here's a photo of four individuals. I think there's a female in the middle of this melée somewhere.
As the light faded, I tried in vain to capture a good photo on this micro-moth. It's a new species for the garden; Mompha lacteella.
And to finish off, a photo of a wood cockroach. There have been a lot around the house today (all outside thankfully). This particular species of cockroach is not a pest and does not live inside houses.
Bee with pink pollen sacks, Christophstal June 2018
Anthrax anthrax, Christophstal June 2018
Goldfinches destroying our scabious, Christophstal June 2018
Violet seedhead, Christophstal June 2018
Five-spot burnet sp. Christophstal June 2018
Black-veined whites, Christophstal June 2018
Mompha lacteella, Christophstal June 2018
Wood cockroach, Christophstal June 2018
Rusty wave, Christophstal June 2018
Blue tit adult showing youngster the ropes, Christophstal June 2018
Blue tit youngsters waiting to be fed, Christophstal June 2018
Blue tits, peanut transfer, Christophstal June 2018
Grey wagtail catching damselfly, Christophstal June 2018
We spent the morning and most of the afternoon tidying up the garden between downpours.
This moth was sitting on the shed when I got the strimmer out. I took a photo, but didn't think it was terribly interesting. I'm now pretty sure it is a rusty wave, a new species for the garden.
I spent the latter part of the day photographing all the blue tit and great tit families visiting the feeders. It looks like it has been a bumper year for these species.
We saw our first grey wagtail of the year too, acrobatically catching insects over the pond.
After an extremely short pupation, the white plume moth emerged today. That was less than a week.
I found two orange-tip butterfly caterpillars on a woad plant we have in the garden.
White plume moth, ex. larva, Christophstal June 2018
Orange-tip caterpillar on woad, Christophstal June 2018
Black-veined white, Christophstal June 2018
Common frog, Christophstal June 2018
Today I was the first black veined white butterfly of the year in the garden on scabious.
It has been thundery for a week or so now and the frogs and toads are out in force as soon as it starts getting dark. Here's a photo of a nicely marked common frog on the patio.
Last night was perfect for moth trapping and this morning I had a good haul of species. Nothing spectacular and no new species but a good result nonetheless. The most interesting thing I found this morning was this amber snail on the spignel we're growing in a pot.
Amber snail sp., Christophstal June 2018
Garden chafer, Christophstal June 2018
Buff footman caterpillar (maybe?), near Sigmaringen June 2018
Pterophorus pentadactyla, Christophstal June 2018
Potter wasp, Christophstal June 2018
Around this time of year, we see lots of small red and green iridescent beetles flying around the garden. In previous years, I'd been clueless as to what they were. I spent a few minutes looking in books this year and identified them as garden chafers - very common, which makes perfect sense.
I've added a photo of a caterpillar we found on yesterday's excursion. I think it's a buff footman. Luckily it has pupated already - as their foodplant is lichen and they're very difficult to raise.
I've also posted a photo of the white plume moth pupa - which is a weird pupa. It's basically the caterpillar without a head.
The last picture is of a potter wasp who is using one of our insect hotels. The insects have ignored these for two years - presumably because they didn't smell natural up until now.
Lesser butterfly orchid, near Balingen June 2018
Sanicle, near Balingen June 2018
Orobanche lutea, near Balingen June 2018
Chequered skipper, near Balingen June 2018
Wintergreen sp., near Balingen June 2018
Great Yellow Gentian, near Balingen June 2018
Veronica teucrium, near Balingen June 2018
Yponomeuta padella pupae on blackthorn, near Balingen June 2018
Chimney sweeper moth, near Balingen June 2018
Common blue ovipositing on restharrow, near Balingen June 2018
Olethreutes arcuella, near Balingen June 2018
Five spot burnet sp. moth and caterpillar, near Balingen June 2018
High brown fritillary, near Balingen June 2018
Field cricket, near Balingen June 2018
Black-veined moth, near Balingen June 2018
Black-veined moth on Christine's blouse, near Balingen June 2018
Bird's nest orchid, near Balingen June 2018
Summer pheasant's eye , near Balingen June 2018
Lady's slipper orchid, near Balingen June 2018
Heath fritillary, near Balingen June 2018
Today we went on an excursion to the Schwäbische Alb to see the wonderful flora and fauna of this region. Here are some photos of the highlights.
The valley is gradually recovering from the visit of the cows. The scabious is flowering well and this Bee Beetle was feasting on one of the flower heads.
Bee beetle, Christophstal June 2018