Autumn Silhouettes 1

Three Starlings

Three starlings with wonderful iridescent plumage on the lookout for mischief.

Drenched Bumblebee

We have all been looking forward to a good downpour and much needed water after a prolonged period of drought but this poor creature got caught in the thunderstorm last night and is clinging onto a stem of heather until it can dry out and fly away. I think it it either a Buff-tailed or White-tailed Bumblebee and full size – about 16mm.

Hedgerow Blackberries

Last night’s fair drop of rain might help to plump up the blackberries growing in the hedgerows around the village.

Pollen Paradise

The hibiscus flowers in the communal grounds at Greenwood House are looking their best and are a great magnet for bees, butterflies and other insects. Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. This bee found itself completely smothered with pollen after visiting the flowers and had to take a bit of time out to comb itself freer before flying away.

Painted Lady Butterfly

Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) at the back of Greenwood House. This is an immigrant species that comes in the first place from North Africa and travels on warm winds via Europe to the UK. So far it has been unable to survive the British winters, which means that each year we are reliant on new arrivals for sightings of this beautiful insect. The numbers that reach our shores vary greatly from year to year.

Marsh Woundwort

Marsh Woundwort (Stachys palustris) growing right on the edge of the riverbank down by the Cerne and almost in the water. Related to Hedge Woundwort which is quite common in and around Charlton Down; both species members of the Nettle family Lamiaceae.

Water Figwort

Water Figwort (Scrophularia auriculata) is an interesting plant that I have previously not noticed on the Cerne riverbank. The books say it grows to 70cm in height but I am sure it is growing taller than that in the location where I spotted it. The stems are square in cross-section with ‘prominent wings’ – thin extensions growing outwards from each corner. The small flowers are up to 1cm in length and grow in spikes along the stem, each flower with a dark red or maroon upper lip and with a very strange appearance, quite unlike anything else I have seen. The fruits are greenish capsules that are thought to resemble small figs.

August Cerne Riverbanks

The river and its banks are still lush and leafy along the Cerne as it flows through the valley to the west of Charlton Down, in stark contrast to the arid fields around it.

A Green Carpet

A small visitor came through an open window and settled on my windowsill. A moth called a Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) because of the delightful pattern and texture on its wings. Only about 2 cm across the closed wings. It’s favourite food plants are Bedstaws, and it had probably been attracted to all the Lady’s and Hedge Bedstraws still flowering on the Greenwood House mini-meadow which is just a few metres from my flat.