Thursday, 3 July 2008

swifts butterflies etc

Another catch up for end of June early July. Red admiral butterfly has been visiting the garden but no pic yet. A meadow brown butterfly did visit my garden over several days.

A very large (Queen?) red tailed buimble bee flew into our conservatory and needed to be helped out.

One warm, muggy evening the black ants left the nest by our side gate for their mating flight. Both the new queens and the much smaller (winged) males were visible in amoungst the workers. many of course did not make it.

Some ended up in spider webs, some were snatched out of the air by birds while others were picked off the ground by starlings and a herring gull. The idea being the females get a head start and only then 'fit' males will manage to fertilise a queen. The queens that were successful return to the ground and bite of their wings. They will start new colonise. the poor old males are not needed anymore. The successful queens will be looked after hand and foot (so to speak) but are destined to spend their life underground as egg laying machines.

From time to time I spot the tiny movements of a baby frog in the garden. Back in the pond, some of the tadpoles haven't even got their back legs yet.

The two herring gull chicks on the roof behind us were learning to fly in their usual clumsy way.

Last, but by no means least, the swifts nesting next door have been putting on spectacular air displays in the evening. The picture don't do them justice (not even the video I took). In the picture above they are just begining to turn for a run across our front garden. They will scream in (lower than the gutter of next doors house) and pass overhead almost close enough to touch if I stood up. Our garden is higher than next door so they are much lower when they pass.

When I stayed with out friends in Tenerife a few years back I would get up early to see them. Our friends lived in the mountains and by about 8 am the swifts had made their way up to us. I would walk a couple of hundred yards down the road and sit on a wall. They flew so close you could actually see their eye move as they flew past, checking me out. Another great experience with swifts was also up in the mountain in Tenerife. At the end of the road was a photo point over looking the valley. The swifts would scream low up the road and at the last moment star burst around us reminiscent of a red arrows display. Swifts would pass each side and above fly out over the valley, regroup and repeat the whole thing again. An amazing experience.

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