Monday Portrait: Centre Stage? A Beetle

We’ve seen all kinds of creatures have their moment as stars of Monday Portraits. But usually animals and birds. Beetles? Not so much. But I find this Forest Cockchafer to be a handsome fellow. We spotted this one on our Balkans adventure last year, but he could just as well have lived in woodland or farmland here.

He’s large – up to 30 mm in length. He’s clumsy, and likely to bump into things. He chomps away on leaves and flowers, but not to a destructive extent. These beetles only live for five or six weeks: even though, as a larva, they spend maybe three to five years growing underground.

He’ll make a large whirring noise in flight and may well clatter into your window panes. Not yet though. Look out for him in May and June. Remember, you saw him here first …

On the Seventh Day of Christmas …

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me –

Seven swans a swimming …

Nobody said the seven swans couldn’t include cygnets. Or that they had to be real swans. The silver swan is a nineteenth century automaton at The Bowes Museum, whose story you can read here.

On the Second Day of Christmas …

But hang on a bit! We have the first day to worry about first …

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me -
A partridge in a pear tree.

Um, I can’t do a partridge. Will another game bird, a pheasant, do? And I can’t do a pear tree either. Here’s an apple tree.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me -
Two turtle doves...

I offer you instead two common-or-garden wood pigeons.

I've an awful feeling I shall come to regret starting this: my photo archive is not stuffed with images of milkmaids - or lords a-leaping. Among other items mentioned in the song. I shall seek to rise to this self-imposed challenge.

A Monday watery portrait

Was it really six months ago that we were in the Balkans? Was it then that we spent our days exploring Lake Prespa, bounded by Greece, Albania and North Macedonia? Apparently so. And these days, the news from there isn’t good. The pelican population, already catastrophically hit by avian flu, has seriously declined again since then. The Great Crested Grebes are still doing well though. Here’s one, featuring as a Monday Portrait, and for Water, Water Everywhere.

Wildlife close to home

This week, for the Lens-Artist’s Challenge, Anne asks us to look at our local wildlife. Well, I’ve been admiring raccoons, coyotes, skunks, kangaroos and other exotica from the posts other bloggers have already contributed, and … I can’t compete.

Still, our local wildlife has charms of its own. Take our own village. Like many round here it has a pond (well, three in our case). Here’s a little showcase of what you’ll find there any time you’re passing.

We have a river nearby too, and a nature reserve too. That means that we see herons often, sometimes egrets.

And Canada Geese. Always Canada Geese.

We can do other birds too. Here’s a small sample:

Here you are: a chaffinch, a raven, a jay and a house sparrow…. and everyone’s favourite ….

… a robin.

In the animal world, here are two creatures we see all too rarely: a toad and a hedgehog. And I haven’t even got any images of badgers or foxes.

I mustn’t forget the omni-present grey squirrel and pheasant.

I can’t leave this though without a couple of pictures of the deer which, though I usually see them in the parkland of Studley Royal, are common enough sights on country walks too.

PS. All these creatures are seen when I’m out walking. I therefore dedicate the robin to Becky and her Walking Squares.

An appetising walk?

Out for a walk yesterday, I fell to thinking about food – well, it wasn’t far off lunchtime. It was this field of beets – mangelwurzels perhaps – that did it: soon to be winter fodder for sheep.

Then I saw hawthorn berries. We can use them in jellies and fruit wines, but I find them too bitter. Not so the birds.

Through the meadow, edged by teasels: the goldfinch would have had their fill by now.

The heron was on his usual rock on the river: waiting patiently for fish.

The last meal I saw had been eaten hours before: nature red in tooth and claw.

Hmm. Time to head home for lunch I think. No creatures were harmed in the preparation of our meal.

For Becky’s Walking Squares.

A Daily Walk’s an Adventure in Serendipity

Lockdown in 2020 taught us to value the tiny slivers of the unexpected in our necessarily limited ‘Daily Exercise’. Here’s yesterday’s unexpected: a cluster of tiny mushrooms in autumn-leaf red, cheerfully growing in the middle of the village cricket pitch. I don’t know what they are. Do you?

They’re multi-tasking mushrooms, because they’re here for Becky’s Walking Squares, as well as for Brian’s Last on the Card for October. Brian insists that we don’t edit our photos, but if I need a square photo, I’ll just have to make a subtle clip, top and bottom. I might get away with it.