hoverfliescranesbillThe walled garden, Nostell Priory, 10.45 a.m., 65°F, 16°C: As I draw a cranesbill in the corner of the wild flower meadow, hoverflies investigate my pen. The long thinner species is attracted to the red plunger in my transparent Lamy fountain pen while the more convincing wasp mimic, the one with the broader boat-shaped abdomen, is attracted to the circular end of the pen and later to the round face of my key-fob compass.

A third species, a small dark hoverfly feeding on the cranesbill flowers, differs from the others in the way it holds its wings when at rest. It keeps them folded parallel along its back rather than angled at 45° like the other hoverflies.

wasps' nestA metre of so from me amongst the tumbled grass stems there’s a wasps’ nest. The wasps tend to leave the nest in a determined, direct flight but half of those returning hesitate and perform two or three short clockwise loops, about six inches across, as if they’re checking out the immediate surroundings before touching down. Or perhaps they’re giving way to any outgoing traffic.meadow brown

A meadow brown butterfly rests amongst the grass stems.


toadletIn the lakeside wood, a tiny amphibian hops across the path. I always assume that if it hops it’s a frog, if it trundles it’s a toad but when I pick it up to take it out of harm’s way, I can see that it’s a toad, with dry warty skin. It’s smaller than my little finger nail but it’s already has the gnarled and weathered look of a prehistoric creature.

Wood Pigeon’s Egg

eggA blackbird was pecking at this egg which looks like a wood pigeon’s. It was lying beneath a tree by the middle lake at Nostell. I suspect that a jackdaw or magpie might have taken it from a nest. The crow tribe are the usual suspects when it comes to egg crime.