Sunday, 30 August 2009

Orgyia antiqua

This rather splendid caterpillar was found on our washing.

With another one munching on the nearby Hibiscus

Once again identified by those on the brilliant Wild About Britain forum, this is a Vapourer (Orgyia antigua) moth.
A brief bit of research on the UKMoths, reveals a fascinating life, the males looking like a typical moth, with a 3cm wingspan, however, the female is wingless and looks nothing like a typical moth:

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Return to the river

Having spent what seems like ages suffering from a torn knee ligament and a weekend (and two days of holiday) decorating the bathroom it's nice to return to the river to see what's changed:

The Ock meadow and surrounding area have been cut (this was actually done in June), so the caterpillars shown in a previous post probably didn't have chance to pupate:

The Himalayan Balasm has started to produce seeds and is ready to wreck havoc further down stream.
A rather beaten up and bedraggled Painted Lady butterfly:

And of course the obligatory - if somewhat out of focus - water vole:

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Knopper Galls

This oak tree along the Ladygrove meadow has once again inflicted by gall wasps.

Being a turkish oak, a gall wasp will inject it's eggs into a forming acorn and the associated chemicals turn the acorn into a gall (in this case a knopper gall) - a source of food and protection for the growing larvae
Possibly, the small insects on the first picture are the emerging gall wasps:

More information on galls can be found at the UK Safari website

Monday, 17 August 2009

More views of the garden

A damaged knee has somewhat restricted my visits to the river, but it has presented a chance to look at things closer to home.
Although the nemesis of gardeners I find slugs and snails fascinating and can spend ages just watching them. A fact born by the 60 or so photos I took on Sunday, including this monstrous 12cm black slug. Black slugs can be black, white, red or in this case, orange:

An interesting article on slugs and slug control is from the Cardiff School of Biosciences

A garden snail was also out

It's the way the eye stalks and tentacles elongate and retract themselves that fascinate me, they are just so different to anything else in the animal kingdom

Another garden pest is the caterpillar, the experts on the Wild about Britain forum have suggested it could be a noctuid moth caterpillar - the Natural History Museum website, lists 446 members of the family:
Although late in the year, it may pupate for winter and hatch in spring next year.

And a nest of red ants wrecking havoc on the front lawn:

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Griff Rhys Jones..

A blog about a river in Abingdon should probably mention Griff Rhys Jones appearance in Abingdon who was talking about rivers.
Other Abingdon blogs do the event more justice than I can:

Annabel's book blog has excellent coverage:

Backstreeter's ubiquitous Abingdon Blog:

And obviously Mostly Books - who organised the event:

Griff spoke for about an hour - no notes or script and it soon became apparent that he wasn't a stooge for the producers, he was genuinely interested and knowledgeable on the subject and seems to have become a somewhat unwanted focal figure for rights of access to rivers.
A question and answer session followed, with an interesting one on harnessing the weirs on the Thames for electricity. I seem to recall a proposal to use the river Cam in Cambridge, the feasibility study is linked below.

But I don't know if it was ever undertaken, but a £500,000project to generate 430,000kWh per year from a weir in Cumbria has commenced:

As is stated in the article "
We hope this demonstration project can be replicated in other mills around the country."

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


A hot muggy day in summer can only mean the annual swarming of black ants, with the queens and smaller males taking to the wing to mate before the queens form new colonies:

Unfortunately, some are destined to end up in a spiders web:

And it's not a good time for my wife, who has Myrmecophobia,a fear ants which isn't a problem unless they swarm - like today.