Wednesday 20 April 2011: Sleepy wasp
We're still not getting many individuals in the moth trap, but last night there was a marked change in the moth community, with four new species for the year: muslin moth, brimstone moth, shuttle-shaped dart and a solitary lime hawk-moth.
As well as the moths there was a large and very sleepy queen wasp. I gently removed her and placed her on the back of a garden chair to photograph. She was very sweet, and carefully washed her face with her front legs.
I know many people dislike social wasps but I'm always happy to see them in the garden. They are voracious predators of other insects, particularly caterpillars and aphids, that would otherwise damage plants. They also have a fascinating life history and create amazing nests out of chewed wood fibres. And contrary to popular opinion they are rarely aggressive and will only sting when they feel threatened.
The rest of the day went fairly smoothly. The weather was wonderful and we were able to have lunch in the garden with Pete's Mum and friend, surrounded by birdsong and a surprisingly large range of butterflies. Unfortunately, after lunch she had a dizzy turn and they had to leave quite early.
The chickens were out while we were having lunch and we had a bit of a scare when we saw a sparrowhawk rapidly heading their way. It halted abruptly mid-swoop and sat for a moment or two on the edge of our extension roof (of course I didn't have a camera to hand) before the dogs frightened it off. When we went to check the chickens we found a dead collared dove, which is what it had actually been pursuing.
My friend and her daughter arrived about twoish, and we had a pleasant afternoon and evening catching up with each other's lives, and managed to fit in a walk through the local bluebell woods.
I'm feeling a bit tired now, so will catch up with comments in the morning!