Saturday, 23 August 2014

Urban Meadows, Hoovering Thunderstorms, Exuberant Nature ...



Wildlife has come alive this year … the previous seven years have been dismal for plants and wildlife … so while we ponder in amazement at the fact our seawater temperatures were as high as those in Califiornia … 68.7 degF (20.4C) off Devon.

Godrevy Lighthouse in St Ives Bay - could have
done with that temperature when I was growing up!


We had that mild but drenching winter, the wettest in 250 years, which has helped our wildlife, but threatened our coasts and vulnerable landscapes, which are recovering …


All sorts - phytopia (phytoplankton)

Microscopic plants, the phytoplankton and the large plants like kelp enjoy the warmer sea temperatures – as too jelly fish … and a magical display was put on by dolphins in St Ives Bay … near Virginia Woolf’s lighthouse at Godrevy on the northern edge of the Bay.  We used to swim there as kids … and we never saw dolphins!




The warm seas have brought leatherback turtles into our waters to feast off the jelly fish … and humpback whales have been sighted in the Irish Sea cruising north towards Scotland – the whales and basking sharks follow their food, plankton and small fish which migrate as waters warm.


Dolphin sighting off beach at Gwithian, St Ives Bay

It’s been bliss for butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies … I’ve seen them down here this year … 



... bumblebees, moths and hoverflies are also doing well … while wasps are a necessary evil as they devour aphids and caterpillars (but they are not doing so well, after the cold springs of 2012 and 2013 – probably resulting in the death of queens): but I might have spoken too early!



Norfolk Hawker Dragonfly
Biting insects are around … mosquitoes seem to be more prevalent … I’ve seen clouds of midges, clegs (horsefly) and other species of flies are certainly abounding now … but these bode well for the migrating insectivorous birds …



A tick - notice it's got 8 legs
I can attest to the biting insects – some 
young friends went off to the New Forest for a wedding – it was an outdoor wedding, laid back and relaxed … but outdoors and camping!  


Fifteen of the party had to go to hospital with tick bites – that need to be treated with a great deal of respect and removed properly … lime disease can be a consequence.



Green Woodpecker


Creepy crawlies, slithery slugs, alarming ants are all marching and eating their way to fatness – before a seagull, pigeon or jackdaw round here (and if we’re lucky a green woodpecker) pecks them up … or swoop upwards as the flying ants swarm …






It’s great having a good summer at last, but we need a very cold winter too (though last year suited me fine – warm!), because it kills off the species we don’t need and which aren’t used to the cold, before they interbreed with our native species.



Bursting Brambles from the hedgerows
Grapes, cherries and strawberries are abundant and profuse at farm shops or vineyards … the hedgerows are falling over themselves with insect life, plant and grass flowerings, brambles full of blackberries … apples, plums, pears are all overflowing with fruits …




Grasses:  Browntop Bent, Red Fescue,
Crested Dogstail, Meadow Fescue, Smooth
Stalk Meadow Grass, Yorkshire Fog - while
the tall rye grass will grow too
c/o Lovely Greens.com


The changeable weather, is not unusual, the jet stream will draw insects and birds from the south, the strong thunderstorms will hoover all in their paths and noisily dump strange insects into our midsts … the increased competition for food forces the insects to disperse in search of new supplies …




Hedgehog enjoying the bounty of insect life


The meadows are in full flower and abuzz with insects, fruit is abundant and ripening, and birds are feasting on the bounty … while the fields look to give farmers a good harvest.




Swallowtail (Papilio Machaon)
- trailing edges of the hind
wings resemble swallow tails

So from the south coast of England … on a Bank Holiday weekend … before Autumn arrives completely … I shall leave you with the scattering of photos and annotations through the post … encourage birds, bees and butterflies et al to flourish …



… and a note – please do not kill flora or fauna with nerve-agent pesticides known as neonicotinoids …



Happy weekend to one and all: nature needs us to protect it …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

47 comments:

D.G. Hudson said...

I agree totally with that last sentence: 'Nature needs us to protect it!'

I enjoyed this beautiful image you conjure, Hilary, of flourishing nature, an offset of the warming trend. I like mild winters as well, and we generally have that on the west coast of Canada.

I have written on the 21st century blog of protecting the waters in our province and off the coast from dirty oil.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Looks like nature is booming there.
Bummer about the wedding guests. Ticks are no fun.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Hilary
I've never heard of damelsflies or hoverflies before. I do love nature. Here in Colorado we are too dry for fireflies except suddenly they have shown up, which attest to all the moisture we put in the air from watering. This year we have had so much ran that we left our drought status behind. All the plants are wonderfully green. Loved your post.
Nancy

bazza said...

Damselflies are wonderful! Most small ponds and lakes have loads of them at present. In Bedfords Park in Havering-atte-Bower there is a series of Damelsfly Ponds created for the specific purpose of attracting them and they garner many rare species - and Hobby, a bird of prey, which swoops over the lake on Summer evenings.
Continuing my new experiment of naming the music I am listening to while posting or commenting - right now it's: Gordon Lightfoot's 'Early Morning Rain. Listen on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWamoeeAIHs
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Mason Canyon said...

The weather has been a bit unusual all over. Sorry to hear about the wedding party and the ticks. That can be dangerous. We all need to do our part to help protect nature. Without it, we're lost. Great post, Hilary. Love all the photos.

Morgan said...

Beautiful! Nature is so inspiring… (Except ticks… nothing inspiring about those…)

I probably say this every time I come here, but your expanse of knowledge is incredible, Hilary!!!!

Jo said...

Makes me thing of the England of old. Life burgeoning everywhere. I have heard from several sources of the abundance of blackberries.

In our part of Canada, at least, no chemicals are allowed to be used any more. Weeds are proliferating in lawns but at least the insects are not being killed off by pesticides. You are so right, nature needs us to protect it. If only we could get more people to take that to heart.

Madeleine Sara said...

Even the disgusting blue bottle flies need our protection, because it is they who clear up the rotting carcasses.

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

What a site! I love sea turtles and would sit there watching them all day if I were there. -- Or at least try to watch them :)

Ah, the boost in berries would be nice too.

The insect population - not so fun.

Botanist said...

I've had to deal with ticks on cats before, but never experienced or seen people getting them. Ugh!

Our brambles are laden with blackberries, too. I just went out this afternoon to pick some.

Paula Kaye said...

We are completely overrun with mosquitoes here as well. Hate them!
Love your pictures

Patsy said...

Whatever the weather it seems to suit someone or something!

I've seen more bees this year which is encouraging. We need the bees.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ DG - it was good to have an update for myself on how things are picking up - nature does seem to be able to adjust: but we definitely need to protect our environment and all things natural.

I'll be over to your 21st C blog and read your post ...

@ Alex - Certainly we are green in most places and full of fruits and veggies ... I know poor wedding guests - rather a shock I imagine finding ticks on them ..

@ Nancy - good to see you ... damsel flies are similar to dragonflies, while hover flies are another species ... but they love aphids and guzzle them up - so we're happy to have lots of them around!

How lovely that you now have fireflies ... all creatures need a degree of moisture - so they're benefiting as you benefit. Good to know your area is out of the drought zone for now ..

@ Bazza - those Damselfly Ponds sound amazing ... what a treat for local residents and such a good idea; while the Hobby, an endangered species, is encouraged to live around the area too - what a great part of the world it must be ... especially at this time of year - late summer evenings.

Gordon Lightfoot's Early Morning Rain is a great song .. I'll go listen!

@ Mason - you've had cold weather in the States I understand. I know the tick incident must have been very unfortunate for their special day ... perhaps an excuse for another party later on!

Nature is essential ... all its myriad threads ... glad the photos brought the post to life - thanks.

@ Morgan - I agree we can learn so much from Nature - good or bad: all species have benefits ... eating aphids or carrion ... ticks provide fodder too - just wish things didn't bite us!

I just mix and match with what interests me .. and it makes me learn too - thanks Morgan!

@ Jo - glad it brought back memories for you - me too ... life is burgeoning ...

We're not allowed to use chemicals - but there's a disconnect between what we, the British, would do and what Europe insists we do ... constant changes occur ...

We can get rid of so many things ... by good husbandry and we don't always need chemicals ... just some elbow grease and care ...

I agree if only we could get the populace to understand there's more to life than just them - ie taking care of nature, thinking about where things come from (and then is it right to buy them, do we need them), and acting kindly to all humans ...

@ Madeleine - glad you're around ... yes even disgusting blue bottles have their place - they do clear up the 'gunk' ... and there are, I've noticed, a lot of them at the moment.

@ Holly - it's unusual for us to have the leatherback turtles around ... and yes, it'd be great if we could watch them and learn something of their lives ... we have places to whale watch, seal watch .. but not turtles - still it's an opportunity for marine biologists to swim with them and see how they feed etc

Berries are good .... insects are good too - but not around us too much ... still they are a good evil! They pollinate and so are essential ...

@ Ian - yes I've dealt with ticks on dogs .. and we were aware in South Africa to be very careful and wear long socks ... but the warning was out in the New Forest ..

In fact the local hospital has a special unit for dealing with ticks - because you can't just pull them off ...

That's good that your blackberries are flourishing .. they do make good jam, or apple and bramble pie or crumble!

@ Paula - oh yes mozzies are a real pain I agree ... worse at night when they wake me up! Doesn't happen often I'm glad to say! Glad the photos caught your eye ..

@ Patsy - yes we can all complain - but wildlife in some way always manages to flourish - thankfully as we need it so much.

I've seen lots of bees too - and we do need them ...

Thanks everyone - life is good at the moment out in the countryside and in our seas ... as long as we humans don't mess it up. Cheers Hilary

Gattina said...

And here in Southern France the sea should be warmer instead it's colder then usual, although it's very warm here to my standards the locals say that it is a cold summer !

rosieamber said...

Such a lovely round up of all that is nature, thanks for the post I feel enlightened.

Trisha F said...

Pesticides are doing so much damage around the world :( It's a big worry.

Love hedgehogs - they're so cute!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I'm glad you're having such a gorgeous summer -- although that bit about the outdoor wedding guests ending up at the hospital is not great.

We are having a spectacular summer in Pennsylvania this year. After a long, cold, snowy winter, we've been enjoying an unusually pleasant summer, with temperatures in the 80's and low humidity. It's been wonderful!

Milo James Fowler said...

The Pacific has been very warm this summer in SoCal -- I've been trying to hit the beach at least a couple times each week. Great photo of the hedgehog.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

If we wish the world's beauty as we see it now, we must work to preserve it. Man has destroyed whole species. Perhaps the World considers Man to be a viral plague?

Watch out for those biting insects!

I do not wander in the wilds much as I did as a child. Nature has become more "biting" in these past years! Have a lovely new week. Roland

cleemckenzie said...

So it seems that while some of nature is suffering another part is flourishing. We're without water here and even the native plants and animals are having a hard time of it.

I'm a strong advocate for not using pesticides. Joined Slow Foods several years ago to lend my voice to urging people to eat local, eat seasonal, eat organic.

TexWisGirl said...

oh, my! the tick bites must have been a terrible experience! bless them!

TexWisGirl said...

and thank you always for your kind visits! :)

helen tilston said...

Hello Hilary

You comment on us needing a cold winter to kill off some of the visiting bugs makes sense and thank you for pointing this out. The blackberries are in abundance here to.
Like your writer mentioned Canada banned the use of pesticides and it is a good thing
It is interesting in Toronto, many former front lawns are now skillfully planned perennial gardens
Helen

Suzanne Sapsed said...

I'd noticed a drop in wasps this year, but we've had loads of bees in the garden. We do try and plant bee and butterfly friendly plants, so looks like it's paying off.

Nightmare about the ticks, Ella has one years ago but Jeff managed to remove it promptly :) x

Sherry Ellis said...

I do not like biting insects. We have a lot of those in Georgia where I live. And we have tiny no-see-ems. They're nasty! You can't go outside without getting bitten up.

Sarah E. Albom said...

Ugh, I hate bitey bugs. A few years ago I went for a walk in the bush behind our house for about half an hour, and when I came out there were fifteen or twenty mozzie bites on me. :/ Never fun

Marja said...

Great post Nature needs all our respect as it is of such importance.
We had the wettest year ever as well. The weather is totally upside down. Global warming is a bit scary as some islands in the Pacific are already starting to overflow.
How wonderful though that the dolphins and turtles and whales came to the coast. I love all of them. Here we see the first signs of Spring and I can't wait.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina – you’re lucky to be in Southern France and just enjoying their wonderful lands .. but it is interesting to know it’s colder down there than here .. (well was!)

@ Rosie – glad the post and pictures enlightened you …

@ Trisha – exactly it’s pesticides being used all over the place that are causing major problems. Isn’t the hedgehog photo a great one .. I’m so pleased I found it.

@ Dianne – well we had a gorgeous summer … but we needed one and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it! Poor wedding guests – can’t have been fun … but will certainly stand the test of telling over time.

How wonderful that Pennsylvania has turned up trumps weather-wise … it sounds just amazing and I’m sure is a gorgeous place to live ..

@ Milo – interesting that the Pacific has been warm too – and how wonderful if you can get to the beach every week … I can too – but it’s usually colder! Glad you like the hedgehog!

@ Roland – yes man could be a viral plague – at times … I just hope we can become companionable and look after our world in all its aspects. Now we have rain and it’s warm, the biting insects will happily breed up … Louisiana, when you arrived as a child, must have been just lovely to wander around in … we are more curtailed over here …

@ Lee – certainly there have been differences in climatic conditions on different parts of the earth … I gather you have quite bad drought in the west. Yes – we’ve always been supportive of local foods and grow our own – well I don’t, but I don’t have a garden … my mother was a great advocate …

@ TWG – yes bless them … I hope they’ve got over the ‘shock’ and their spoilt weekend … still I’m sure they’ll make hay out of the situation as the weeks and months pass!

Pleasure always good to call in and see your photos …

@ Helen – good to see you – we do need the ‘bad bugs’ to be killed off – but I’d rather not have a cold winter! Blackberries are everywhere here with full fruits …

I think most first world countries banned pesticides years ago … our front gardens have been turned to gravel/concrete for parking, but some have gone for lovely perennial plantings … which are always wonderful to see.

@ Suzanne – how lovely to see you … I suspect the wasps may return as there are masses of falling apples, sloes and blackberries around … So good to hear you’ve got lots of bees in the garden and that you’re encouraging them in with a variety of plants …

Well I’m glad Ella got her father to sort her tick out for her … they can be very dodgy arachnids …

@ Sherry – I’m not keen on biting insects, but realise they play a crucial role in the cycle of nature. Midges – now I have a new word for them No-See-Ums … I see from Wiki how challenging they might be … I’m not that keen on Scotland in the late spring to autumn when the midges come out in clouds ..

@ Sarah – photographing wildlife – you’ll be attracting lots of wonderful insects!?! Never fun – how right you are … they are just a nuisance biting us!!

@ Marja – doesn’t nature need our respect … and you have such amazing natural areas in NZ … so your winter was wet too … global warming is all part of earth’s life – nothing’s changed … it will happen … I live on the sea floor – but it’s probably millions of years old! But it was the sea at one stage – and the cliffs are 530 feet high (166 m) … we live on sea-shells …

Cheers to you all – from a wet Bank Holiday Monday by the sea! Hilary

Rosalind Adam said...

Our garden is completely pesticide free and I've seen some lovely butterflies this year. We certainly don't have so many wasps but, like you say, best to not speak too soon. It was lovely having all that heat while I was helping Daughter to recover from her op. Sunshines helps the healing process, or so we've been told.

Nilanjana Bose said...

The season captured beautifully in your words and images. Loved both, and agree with you on pesticides.

Lynn said...

Check in on my post tomorrow morning - when I post about the organic gardener again. I agree - pesticides are not good.

Love the flora and fauna pictured here!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ros - I wouldn't have expected anything less ... and there are some amazing butterflies around - wasps I hope I didn't speak too soon .. after the rain I expect we'll have lots of mozzies!

I'm sure warmth and sun just does so much for us .. and I'm glad to read your daughter is healing and you've had that wonderful visit to see your grandchildren ..

@ Nila - many thanks ... glad you enjoyed the post ... and good that you're against pesticides too ...

@ Lynn - I will check in tomorrow - glad you enjoyed the post and the photos etc ..

Cheers to you - thanks for visiting .. Hilary

Beate said...

Oh no, those poor wedding guests! I hope they were all fine after they got the ticks removed. I love that nature is so alive right now...but I agree, we do need a really cold winter to keep those nasty biting bugs at stake.

Susanne Drazic said...

I hope the wedding guests are all okay. An outdoor wedding sounds beautiful, but not being bitten by ticks.

Friko said...

Nature needs us to protect it and we need nature to keep the human race alive.

Funny, I was only saying this morning that we have hardly any wasps; normally they eat most of the plums off the tree before we can get at them. This year it’s the birds who’ve pecked every single plum.

It’s cooler now, the weekend was not at all nice.
But I won’t complain, we’ve had a wonderful summer and perhaps we’ll have a wonderful autumn too.

Enjoy the rest of the week. Thursday already tomorrow.

Sara said...

It's strange, but our summer has seemed rather mild for where I live in the South, USA.

Normally, I can't outside on my porch during the day as it's too humid, but it hasn't been lately.

In addition, we haven't had as much rain as we normally do. It's like you got our weather and lesser so, we got a taste of your normal weather. Weird:~)

But, if we let her, nature a way of finding balance.

I liked how you ended this post, "nature needs us to protect it..." This is true!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Beate - yes I think they were all in shock too - thankfully the hospital was geared up for tick bites and all will be well.

Having just had three days of very wet weather and another on its way by the look of it .. I'd like some sun! But you're right the cold is what we need to keep the biting bugs at bay over winter.

@ Susanne - sounds like the wedding guests are alright - the hospital is prepared for these influxes ... I agree an outdoor wedding sounds just amazing ... just sad about the overnight guests.

@ Friko - Nature does need us ... and strange about the wasps - but I've seen the birds carrying apples around ... they get spread everywhere.

It's wet now! we've had 3 days of it.. and more to come today by the sound of it ... but warmer weather again next week - let's hope.

We have had a wonderful summer and the last weekend of August beckons ... you too enjoy yours.

@ Sara - I gather the States has been quite cold (well relatively!) ... wonderful you've been able to enjoy the porch and read or mull ...

Looks like we might get some more summer next week - Indian Summers are glorious in the UK ...

We do need to look after our earth and all its wonderful accoutrements -

Cheers to you - enjoy the weekend - Hilary

Rhonda Albom said...

Except for the biting insects, it all sounds so wonderful. what a story about the wedding though. I didn't even know there were ticks that required a hospital. When I lived in California, we used a hot match stick and they backed right out.

Julia Hones said...

Great post, Hilary!
It is good to remind everyone that we need to protect nature, and the more we are in touch with it, the more we cherish it.
The summer here has been the best summer of the last few years. The mayflowers devoured the mosquitoes, so that was good. There are lots of butterflies around and this makes me happy.
Cheers,
Julia

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rhonda - I know poor wedding guests .. a tale to tell, but so frustrating for them on the day; I don't know about our ticks either .. but I suspect the 'worry' is lime disease - which is really nasty .. so perhaps that's why they require a hospital visit ..

@ Julia - how lovely you too had a great Summer .. and nature does look after its own too doesn't it .. eating our stinging insects ..

Mayflies and butterflies - lovely additions to long sunny days ..

Thanks to you both - enjoy the weekend .. cheers Hilary

Juliet Batten said...

What a lively post in celebration of so many living creatures, both welcome and not welcome. Ticks sound unpleasant. Let's hope a good cold blast in winter kills off the unwanted invaders.

Robyn Campbell said...

ACK, TICKS! GAH! We have them bad in NC. I agree with you, Hil. Nature does need us to protect it. It is good having a cold winter to get rid of all the bugs. What a wedding, Hil. Our berries have done well this summer. All our produce did. xoxo

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Juliet - nature is full of life isn't it ... and with so much to offer ... I hope we have some cold, but not too much!

@ Robyn - I'm sure you've got ticks in NC ... they are prevalent .. just somewhat unwanted at a wedding - still location, location, location .. as they say in this country!!

Our berries are all over the show here - the hedgerows are buzzing ... and they're saying we're going to be having a very good harvest this year ...

Thanks so much - good to see you both - Hilary

retriever said...

Very nice garden,,greeting from Belgium
http://louisette.eklablog.com

Catherine A. Winn said...

Ticks--yicck! It was so strange that I lived in one section of Texas and we had ticks galore. Constantly removing them from dogs and treating the yards. I moved to another section of Texas and they are just not found here in the suburbs. That' makes me happy, but it is strange. Loved this nature post :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Louisette - thanks ..

@ Catherine - I know .. poor wedding party! Interesting about the different parts of Texas ...some with ticks, some without ... I bet you're pleased to be living in the non-tick belt of Texas ..

Thanks for your visit and comment .. cheers Hilary

Coral Wild said...

A wonderful, vivid, memory inducing post about an English summer.....

Thanks Hilary. I only spent a total of 3 years living in the UK, but your post brought back sweet, nostalgic memories of lazy, sun-drenched summers in Devon when I was a college student there: