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Garden Bioblitz 1st June 2014

We decided to take part in the Garden BioBlitz this weekend and so, on Sunday afternoon with camera in hand, we took a two hour jaunt around the garden to see what we could see. Aside from all the usual birds that chomp away on the feeders, we spotted quite a few other garden visitors; most are welcome but a couple perhaps not so much if you are trying to grow vegetables! Here are a few of the sightings… hope I have the Latin names right!

Llantwit Major on a sunny spring day

On Saturday we went westward to the town of Llantwit Major, just fifty minutes away on the Valley Lines train. The weather was unbelievably warm and sunny and there were quite a few people taking advantage. I had an ‘artistic attack’ on the beach and tried to capture some shots of the beautiful shaped cobbles, shells and driftwood but, before long, I reverted to type when I spotted some bloody-nosed beetles on the cliff path. Watching courting butterflies and being dive bombed by the occasional bumblebee showed me that, at last, spring has truly sprung.

Brecon Beacons National Park

For us from Cardiff, a Bank Holiday out in the Brecon Beacons meant a train ride to Merthyr Tydfil and two bus journeys but it was a pleasant enough trip. When we arrived at the Information Centre the place was crowded with visitors and the Summer Fayre was in full swing; the stalls distracted us from taking our first walk for a while. In the centre’s secluded garden, where we ate our lunch, there was a herb bed and, amongst the flowering marjoram, fluffy little carder bees, red-tailed and buff or white-tailed bumblebees. Once we set to walk out amongst the bracken and heather we soon saw a few birds and more insects, especially on the thistle flowers. The nearest hills, a gentle three mile stroll from the Centre, were populated with sheep sheltering from the sun under trees and bushes. At the top we enjoyed the stunning views and a quick breather before walking back down to the Centre for a cup of tea and then the bus back.

to Brecon.

Flying beauties of Bute Park

Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)

Yesterday I had a very enjoyable morning watching George from Butterfly Conservation open three moth traps set the night before in Bute Park. This Poplar Hawk-moth sat obligingly on my hand whilst I took a photo. These are some more of the many beauties that I saw…

Bug hunting amongst the nettles.

Yesterday, we went bug-hunting amongst stinging nettles and other plants bordering a field behind Llandaff Cathedral. The weather was mainly overcast with occasional brief bursts of sunshine and a brisk breeze. These are just a few of the beasts that we spotted in an hour or two before succumbing to the desire for coffee and cake.

Marmalade Hover Fly, Bute Park

Marmalade Hover Fly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Bute Park Bug Hunt June 2012

Today I went on a walk through Bute Park, looking for butterflies and bugs preparatory to a full blown ramble tomorrow, weather permitting. In my ignorance, a bee is usually ‘a bee’ and a fly is quite often ‘a fly’ so I haven’t identified all the species as yet, but I will, given time. Not surprisingly, most of the flying insects were seen drinking nectar on the colourful, cultivated flower beds within the formal area of the Park. But, in the Arboretum, I saw beetles and grubs hiding in the leaf litter and rotten tree stumps whilst the damsel flies were flitting amongst the wild flowers alongside the rapidly flowing Feeder. Bute Park is like a giant wildlife-friendly garden with its sunny flower beds, shaded areas and fresh water; different environments that provide ideal conditions for a great variety of insects.

Mystery bee?

In Bute Park yesterday, I was photographing damsel flies by the feeder when I spotted this bee sitting quietly on a leaf. If anyone can identify the species I’d be very pleased to hear from them.

UPDATE… It seems probable that this is a Hover Fly, a species that frequently mimics bees and wasps. I cannot identify it further at the moment.

The Mint and Silver Y moths

Two quite pretty moths I saw in the back garden last year. Difficult to photograph well without a macro lens or tripod but at least I saw them clearly 🙂

Bute’s Summer Bed

Hoverfly (Eupeodes corollae). August 2011

Last summer, Bute Park displayed a beautiful bed of brightly coloured annuals which attracted a great many flying insects, including this male hoverfly (Eupeodes corollae). The yellow banding on the insect matched rather well with the flower’s yellow centre to make a dazzling display of summer colour. I hope that the Parks Department can come up with something as spectacular this year.

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