Insects on Ivy

wasp on ivyIt’s now twenty years since I started writing this online version of my nature diaries and sketchbooks and I remember my first ever post on my Wild West Yorkshire website included a sketch of wasp visiting the flowers of the ivy.

fly on ivyToday wasps and flies were busy visiting the flowers on next door’s ivy. The clusters of male and female flowers might not be showy but there are plenty of them. The decadent fusty-ness of ivy is a scent that sums up autumn for me, as much as flowering privet does for late summer.

It seems like one last party for the assembled wasps and flies before the onset of winter.


My first blog postInsects on ivy from my first blog post (although the word blog hadn’t been invented then) for Sunday 8 October 1998.

The drawings were scanned from my A5 page-a-day diary and coloured in Photoshop, probably, at that time, using a mouse rather than a graphics pad.

I quickly moved on to drawing in an A4 sketchbook, which saved having to erase the ruled lines in the diary. I didn’t start using watercolour until three months later, which was far less fiddly than adding colour with a mouse.

Cloud Base

heronspire in the mistA grey heron doggedly makes its morning rounds against an equally grey sky.

The cathedral spire, looming out of the afternoon fog, appears to connect with the cloud base.

The Brick-banked Beck

gulls by the beckbindweedThe Westgate gulls are there again, gyrating around some centre of attraction hidden down in the brick-banked beck.

A few white trumpets of greater bindweed remain on the twisting vines on a chain-link fence at the edge of a car park.

wasp clusterI return to a dozen wasps, some dozy, some dead, to evict from my studio this afternoon. The way three of them were huddling up in the top corner of the window this morning, I’d guess that they were  hunkering down for the winter but only the queens will make it through to the spring.

They’ve been nesting in the roof-space in an ever-expanding colony since midsummer.


THERE’S A NEW Pheasant, a cock Pheasant distinctively marked with white flashes above the eyes, in the garden this afternoon and, at least when I happen to look out and see him, he’s not being challenged by our regular bird, who’s down amongst the snowdrops near the hedge with a female ambling along beside him. The newcomer has also brought a partner. The two of them stroll up to the bird feeders.

The Treecreeper that works it’s way up the north side of the Golden Hornet crab apple tree – the side covered with powdery green algae – is an infrequent visitor to the garden. It makes its way up to the top of one of the main branches then flies off towards the large oak in a back garden three doors up the road.

Saint Valentine’s is traditionally the day that birds pair up and there’s a definite buzz of spring about. I’ve been up in attic and shortly afterwards I’m aware of a hum next to me; a queen wasp that was probably hibernating in the attic has a emerged and is sitting at the bottom of the window whirring its wings. I let it out but I’m afraid that it’s still a little too early for her to start a new colony.