Saturday, 29 September 2018

Wild Nightlife on the Croft

The camera trap that my daughter bought me has been capturing some interesting fauna.

I set it out near the garden. We have fig trees and I thought that might attract the wild boar. We also have rats, attracted by the chicken food. But the rats have been dissapearing, so I guessed that there was a predator around. The Barn and Tawny owls capture them at night (we hear the whoosh and squeak as they attack the rats in the garden), but there are ground predators too:



My brother is a tiger, really...

Pretty sleek, eh?
Mrs Brock returns

That's from just five nights with the camera trap. The cat is big, but I guess it's a large domestic cat, not a wild cat. The fox is completely fearless: she or he has been out at times when I know the dogs were around too.

It's pretty wild at night at the Croft...

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Trap!

The fight-back against the Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina, has started.

I built these traps using some stuff from the local household store, and baited them with Catalan white wine, my honey, organic brown sugar and locally-caught fish. Frankly, if the Asian hornets aren't attracted by that menu, and the low food-mile count, I will be amazed...


One way to the winery

The instructions for this type of trap are pretty widely available. The funnel has a 10mm hole, through which hornets and bees can pass, but the exit holes, just above the internal wire base, are just 6mm in diameter. Large enough for a honey bee to escape, but too small for the hornet. The inverted bowl above the trap keeps the rain out (and thus avoids diluting the bait - no-one wants watered-down wine...)

I'll check them in a week to see if they have captured anything useful.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Attack!

We are under attack. The dread Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina, has arrived at my hives.

I took a honey harvest a couple of weeks ago, but it was small - way too small for this time of year. I suspected that something might be bothering the bees. And today, when I went up to the hives, the bees were locked down in their hive entrances. 



She is out there, somewhere




And just a few centimetres away, the hovering menace:



I've told the rangers, and the bee association, but I'd welcome any advice or suggestions on how best to deal with this.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Double Bug

Two scenes of, er, bug intimacy this week.

The first is a pair of clegs (horse flies), Tabanidae. I have an admiration-hate relationship with clegs. Admiration for their extraordinary efficiency and accuracy - they can attack a horse's legs - or mine - fast and from a distance, but land with such precision that you feel nothing until the wee bu&&er has bitten a chunk out of you, at which they fly off, again at high speed but this time in a dodging, zigzag flight path that makes them impossible to swat. Hate, because they are a constant summer nuisance for the donkeys.

But the admiration part of the equation increased with this pair who managed to couple on an orange-tree leaf, and then fly off, still coupled in perfect coordination, when my camera got too close.



This is giving me a buzz


Clegs fight the stereotype; it is she that bites the donkeys, while he floats around our garden flowers eating only nectar.


And then there were these two. They were locked in a love scene at the entrance to a mouse burrow, like two sumo wrestlers. These two barely moved when I approached, and were clearly not going anywhere for anyone. 

It's boring but it works


Friday, 6 July 2018

Sticky End

I saw one in the woods a week ago, but there was not enough light to photograph it. This one, however, was easier to picture because - poor wee thing - it had drowned in a cupful of water in the water-feeders for the donkey stable.


Knifed in the back




This is possibly Leptynia hispanica, but it might be Pijnackeria hispanica, in which case I can make a Scottish connection because the latter feeds exclusively on, er, Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius)... 


Sunday, 17 June 2018

Butterly Lovely

...and just because they are good photos, here are a couple of butterflies, photographed on the Croft today. They illustrate a point about butterfly diet - nectar, and rotting fruit... the butterfly equivalent of a land of wine and honey.

As yellow as butter

Cherry licker



A Tankful of Tadpoles

With the lovely wet Spring, our irrigation tank is brimming with tadpoles, with at least two varieties present. I have NO idea how to identify juvenile amphibians, and have already made a mistake in this area, so over to you to tell me what they are:





Heid that, Jimmy