Large Red-tailed Bumble bee

Large Red-tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus lapidarius) going solo and filling up on the only nectar around in a field mostly containing dry grasses and docks bearing seeds. I expect this field to be cut for hay this week as it is usually the first thing to be done to ease access of machinery for harvesting the adjacent wheat.

Field in Evening Light

When the evening began to cool, the sun going down cast a rosy glow over the heads of ripe golden wheat, and made lengthening pale shadows over the crop from the trees and hedgerows, before sinking from view behind Charminster Down.

A Solitary Peacock

On my early evening stroll among drying grasses and thistledown there was just a single, solitary Peacock in the field, flitting through the tall stalks to reach the nectar in a few Ragwort flowers. This is a place where only three years ago there were clouds of many species of butterflies, bees, and other insects dancing in the air as they feasted on a profusion of flowers. I’d like to say that the scarcity of butterflies was due to the hot weather or perhaps something about that particular day, but it has been a similar situation every time that I have visited this summer, and I fear that it is more to do with the herbicide that was used two years ago.

Greenwood Mini-Meadow Update

In the early evening light yesterday, after another very hot day, the Greenwood House mini-meadow was looking very flowerful with a profusion of the bedstraws, and the yarrows more in evidence among the dried grasses. I noticed for the first time some single stemmed specimens of Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), and a solitary thistle (?Spear Thistle – Cirsium vulgare). Not bad for an area which has been left to its own devices for the first time after being mown constantly for about 150 years. These flowers were there all the time and never had a chance to flourish before now. This experiment has led to a quick increase in biodiversity for the grounds, and a wonderful larder for wildlife.

A Natural Bird Table 1

A delicious array of seeds developing fast this very hot and dry July in one of the few wilder areas around the village of Charlton Down. Mostly dock, thistle, and various grasses in this particular patch. A veritable feast for the birds.

Bee Swarm on the Gym

A swarm of honey bees has landed on the brick wall of the local gym. The gym is in a converted chapel from the days when the buildings in the village of Charlton Down were all part of a hospital. The bees have been trying to enter the building high up where there is an air brick in the wall. Apparently, someone will be coming out shortly to take them away and put them in a hive. Meanwhile they are buzzing around and crawling over each other in what looks like a state of confusion.

Cinnabar caterpillars

I have been walking around the village over the last few weeks looking at the bright yellow flowers of ragweed plants . There is not a lot of it around this year. More specifically I have been looking for some caterpillars that feed on the plant. And at last I have spotted what I was looking for – the vivid orange and black stripes of Cinnabar larvae (Tyria jacobaeae) munching away. Only the two specimens so far but I will keep on looking. Surprisingly these develop into black and red winged adult moths without a speck of orange.

Greater Spearwort

Greater Spearwort grows in abundance on the drying margins of the pond in the village nature area. It is part of the Buttercup family as you can tell from the way the flowers look and its scientific name Ranunculus lingua. At one time this pond also featured Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris) but the Spearwort has now taken over. Many tiny bugs and beetles seem to like these flowers, and these small creatures are as important to the ecosystem as the showier and more noticeable insects like butterflies and dragonflies.

Barley Field in June

We have barley growing in fields near the village as well as wheat. It is so lovely to look out over large expanses of the ripening crop as it waves and ripples in the wind. On this day the light was changing constantly as dark clouds scudded overhead, fleetingly obliterating the blue sky, and intermittently letting the sun shine through. The crop surface textures, colours and patterns varied depending on the transient quality of the light, the degree of ripeness, and the direction of view. The light-show on the barley whiskers is fascinating and beautiful. I could imagine these natural abstract designs being used for fabrics or wall coverings.

The Lone Pine 1

The solitary pine tree that stands in the field now bearing a crop of wheat (see yesterday’s images and below) wasn’t always alone. Looking through some of my archive of pictures from the winter of 2010, I discovered a photograph of it with a companion tree – which was uprooted unnoticed and unrecorded in winter storm winds some years later.

How the tree looks now (3 July 2022):