Monday 31 May 2021
Black-veined white ex. larva, Friedrichstal May 2021

Black-veined white ex. larva, Friedrichstal May 2021

Black-veined white ex. larva, Friedrichstal May 2021

Black-veined white ex. larva, Friedrichstal May 2021

Black-veined white ex. larva, Friedrichstal May 2021

Black-veined white ex. larva, Friedrichstal May 2021

My first black-veined white butterfly emerged today. This is far too early. I tried to slow down the pupation by putting the box in a cool room, but it didn't work. This individual is going to be on his own for a while. Still, on the positive side, the rain has actually stopped for a few days.

Sunday 30 May 2021

We spotted a rose chafer flying about erratically at the front of the garden. When we checked the area, we saw a couple more rose chafers drinking on our maple stump. Christine reckoned they were drunk which explains the erratic flying.

Here are some photos of my vapourer caterpillars. Some have already pupated even though they were quite small. The ones that are still caterpillars are now huge. My guess is that the ones that have already pupated are male and the others are females - although I can't find any documented evidence of this.

Rose chafer feeding on maple

Rose chafer feeding on maple "syrup", Christophstal May 2021

Rose chafer feeding on maple

Rose chafer feeding on maple "syrup", Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer L6, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer L6, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L6, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L6, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer pupa, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer pupa, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer pupa, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer pupa, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L6 underside, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L6 underside, Christophstal May 2021

Saturday 29 May 2021
Cream-spot ladybird, Christophstal May 2021

Cream-spot ladybird, Christophstal May 2021

Cream-spot ladybird, Christophstal May 2021

Cream-spot ladybird, Christophstal May 2021

I must have brought a ladybird pupa into my caterpillars with some bird cherry as this beauty was in the box this morning. This is a new species for the garden (although it isn't rare). It's cream-spot labybird.

Monday 24 May 2021

Here's a photo of a rose chafer on our bird cherry. This shows how late everything is - the blossom has only just opened.

And to balance the page a bit, here's a photo of a crow perched precariously at the top of a nearby conifer and a photo of a blackbird fledgling.

Rose chafer on bird cherry, Christophstal May 2021

Rose chafer on bird cherry, Christophstal May 2021

Carrion crow, Christophstal May 2021

Carrion crow, Christophstal May 2021

Fledgling blackbird, Christophstal May 2021

Fledgling blackbird, Christophstal May 2021

Sunday 23 May 2021
Vapourer caterpillar, L1, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar, L1, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer L6 caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer L6 caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L6, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L6, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L6, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L6, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L6, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L6, Christophstal May 2021

Box of vapourers, Christophstal May 2021

Box of vapourers, Christophstal May 2021

Garden Warbler, Christophstal May 2021

Garden Warbler, Christophstal May 2021

I found a caterpillar climbing up the kitchen window yesterday. This looks like a recently hatched vapourer - but mine are all on their last instar. It may be that this one hatched late, but I don't know how he migrated from the box to the kitchen (must be 3 metres). They usually disperse themselves using silken trails in the wind - maybe when we had the doors open he blew over to the window.

Anyway, here are some comparisons of this 2mm boy and his 2cm brothers and sisters.

After I wrote the above, I happened to look out the window and spotted a garden warbler in the hawthorn, so here's a photo of that too.

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Here are a bunch of photos of my Svensson's Copper Underwing caterpillar. He's on his final instar here, so I expect him to pupate soon.

Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Sunday 16 May 2021
Female violet oil beetle, Christophstal May 2021

Female violet oil beetle, Christophstal May 2021

Female violet oil beetle, Christophstal May 2021

Female violet oil beetle, Christophstal May 2021

Female violet oil beetle, Christophstal May 2021

Female violet oil beetle, Christophstal May 2021

Female Violet Oil Beetle, Christophstal May 2021

Female violet oil beetle, Christophstal May 2021

Female violet oil beetle, prototum and antenna detail, Christophstal May 2021

Female violet oil beetle, prototum and antenna detail, Christophstal May 2021

Hawfinch, Christophstal May 2021

Hawfinch, Christophstal May 2021

Red squirrel, Christophstal May 2021

Red squirrel, Christophstal May 2021

Leaping red squirrel, Christophstal May 2021

Leaping red squirrel, Christophstal May 2021

We spotted a fine oil beetle in the garden today. This is the violet oil beetle, Meloe violaceus. It has a life cycle heavily reliant on mining bees and natural landscapes, so this is something we're very happy to see (although it is actually parasitic on mining bees). This is a female, so she's in the process of laying some 3000 eggs - our mining bees are going to take a hammering.

A couple of hawfinchs have become quite tame and will happily let me photograph them. Here's the male.

And finishing off with a couple of red squirrels. They're sporting some fine Jedward ear tufts at the moment.

Saturday 15 May 2021

As promised on Tuesday, here are some photos of the black-veined white pupa from which I was able to identify the caterpillars that had been puzzling me. It's an extremely distinctive pupa and quite unmistakable once you know.

I've included a couple of photos of the vapourer caterpillars which hatched a couple of weeks ago. Some are still on L2 and some are now on L3.

To close, here are a couple of photos of a crested tit on our peanut feeder. We know that they like peanuts, but we've never seen crested tits on the peanut feeder before. This individual clearly knew what he was doing, so he must have visited before.

Black-veined white pupa, ex larva Friedrichstal May 2021

Black-veined white pupa, ex larva Friedrichstal May 2021

Black-veined white pupa, ex larva Friedrichstal May 2021

Black-veined white pupa, ex larva Friedrichstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillars L2 and L3, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillars L2 and L3, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L3, with detached head capsule from L2, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L3, with detached head capsule from L2, Christophstal May 2021

Crested tit, Christophstal May 2021

Crested tit, Christophstal May 2021

Crested tit, Christophstal May 2021

Crested tit, Christophstal May 2021

Friday 14 May 2021
Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

Svensson's copper underwing caterpillar, Christophstal May 2021

I've been feeding my vapourer caterpillars on various leaves. When they first hatched, there weren't many leaves on any of the trees around us, so I had to collect lots of different leaves to get enough (there were well over 100 mouths to feed).

Luckily, I collected some leaves from the apple tree at the front of the house and noticed that I'd brought another caterpillar in. This is a new species for the garden - a Svensson's copper underwing. The adults are difficult to distinguish from the other copper underwing species but the larva is subtly different (red tip to the hump instead of yellow and a complete spiricular stripe rather than fading out on segments 2 and 3).

Wednesday 12 May 2021

We saw our first red-backed shrike of the year today, a female. The photo is taken through a window so isn't very good.

Red-backed shrike, Christophstal May 2021

Red-backed shrike, Christophstal May 2021

Tuesday 11 May 2021
Black-veined white caterpillar, Friedrichstal May 2021

Black-veined white caterpillar, Friedrichstal May 2021

Black-veined white caterpillar, Friedrichstal May 2021

Black-veined white caterpillar, Friedrichstal May 2021

We went for a run at lunchtime and I spotted some interesting caterpillars on a bird cherry tree in Friedrichstal. We drove down later to collect a few. These had me stumped for quite some time. They'd created silken nests in the tree and had defoliated a few branches. This and the fact that they were extremely hairy caterpillars would normally put them in the Lasiocampidae family. I spent a lot of time looking through my books and I couldn't find anything.

It wasn't until one of the caterpillars pupated that I realized I needed to look in a different family. More info on that on Saturday's entry - anyway, these are the caterpillars of the black-veined white butterfly. This species is extinct in the UK and is on the pre-warning list in Germany.

Monday 10 May 2021

After work, I spent a couple of house watching the birds as it got dark. I was rewarded with another new species for the garden. I'm pretty sure this is a reed warbler.

I also saw the first spotted flycatcher of the year in a distant tree. The light was pretty poor by then so the photo is quite grainy.

I'm including a photo of a female blackcap too as they're usually quite shy. This one posed nicely.

Reed warbler, Christophstal May 2021

Reed warbler, Christophstal May 2021

Reed warbler, Christophstal May 2021

Reed warbler, Christophstal May 2021

Reed warbler, Christophstal May 2021

Reed warbler, Christophstal May 2021

Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal May 2021

Spotted flycatcher, Christophstal May 2021

Female blackcap, Christophstal May 2021

Female blackcap, Christophstal May 2021

Sunday 9 May 2021
Sand lizard, Friedrichstal May 2021

Sand lizard, Friedrichstal May 2021

Juneberry, Christophstal May 2021

Juneberry, Christophstal May 2021

Juneberry, Christophstal May 2021

Juneberry, Christophstal May 2021

Satyr pug, Christophstal May 2021

Satyr pug, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L1, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L1, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L2, Christophstal May 2021

Vapourer caterpillar L2, Christophstal May 2021

Dock bug, Christophstal May 2021

Dock bug, Christophstal May 2021

Finally, a warm day!

We went for a run early this morning and were lucky to see this sand lizard basking in the sun.

The juneberry in the garden is now flowering.

I had two saytr pugs emerge from caterpillars I collected back in June last year and the vapourer eggs I had from last year hatched too.

And a dock bug landed on Christine's cardigan. 

Saturday 8 May 2021

The elder is nearly flowering. It is very late this year.

This female blackcap came to our hawthorn. Presumably, she had just eaten a spider as there was a web coming from her beak.

A female common redstart was around too. The males have been around for a few weeks already.

And there were three male whinchats hunting behind the house too.

Elder, Christophstal May 2021

Elder, Christophstal May 2021

Female blackcap, Christophstal May 2021

Female blackcap, Christophstal May 2021

Female common redstart, Christophstal May 2021

Female common redstart, Christophstal May 2021

Whinchat, Christophstal May 2021

Whinchat, Christophstal May 2021

Wednesday 5 May 2021
Black kite, Christophstal May 2021

Black kite, Christophstal May 2021

There was a black kite in the valley today, flying with a red kite. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a decent photo.

Tuesday 4 May 2021

There were a couple of male whinchats flying around today.

Whinchats, Christophstal May 2021

Whinchats, Christophstal May 2021

Monday 3 May 2021

An unusual bird caught my eye this morning scooting across the pond. It didn't look like anything I've seen here before so I rushed to get my camera. This is a new species for us: a common sandpiper. This is only passing through - we wouldn't normally expect to see this species here.

In contrast, we're still seeing nightingales on a regular basis. I'm pretty certain the one I saw today is a new arrival as he was extremely shy and I had trouble getting any photos at all as he kept diving back into the hedge at the slightest noise (like my camera shutter for example).

Common Sandpiper, Christophstal May 2021

Common Sandpiper, Christophstal May 2021

Common Sandpiper, Christophstal May 2021

Common Sandpiper, Christophstal May 2021

Common Sandpiper, Christophstal May 2021

Common Sandpiper, Christophstal May 2021

Common Sandpiper, Christophstal May 2021

Common Sandpiper, Christophstal May 2021

Nightingale, Christophstal May 2021

Nightingale, Christophstal May 2021

Sunday 2 May 2021
Stoat, Christophstal, May 2021

Stoat, Christophstal, May 2021

Stoat, Christophstal May 2021

Stoat, Christophstal May 2021

Carrion crow, Christophstal May 2021

Carrion crow, Christophstal May 2021

It was very rainy today - just like April showers, but in May.

I'd sort-of given up expecting anything interesting to put up in the diary today, but I was lucky to catch this stoat bounding around the house when I had my camera to hand.

To make the page balance, I've added a photo of a carrion crow that came to look at what was going on.

Saturday 1 May 2021

We were working in the garden today - between rain showers - so there aren't a lot of photos. A couple of goldfinches were collecting nesting materials in our bauerngarten-to-be.

As dusk fell, a mouse was running up and down the shed wall collecting peanuts.

Goldfinch collecting nesting materials, Christophstal May 2021

Goldfinch collecting nesting materials, Christophstal May 2021

Mouse, Christophstal May 2021

Mouse, Christophstal May 2021