Safari Sunday

With the good weather comes the wildlife… beware this is a long post, there’s lots of Cinnabar photos and an ugly Spider at the end.

Yes, a SPIDER at the end, for those arachnophobes out there.

Enough of the disclaimer and onto the buzzy, creepy and fluttery things.

I’m not sure, but I think the Cinnabars might die once they’ve laid their eggs, sad. I found a few dead bodies around a very large Ragwort I have beneath the bird feeders. It may of course be chance, or that spiders caught them but I’d expect to see the bodies hanging in the plant, not on the ground beneath… At least this confirms that I have had more than a couple, as I hoped.
The one below looks to have had a battle with something, I assume a rose, bramble or pyracantha.

Cinnabar Moth

Cinnabar Moth

Cinnabar Moth and Sanguisorba

Cinnabar Moth

Bee… Bum.

So far I’ve only managed a quick record shot of the Small Tortoiseshell, but as the Buddleja is now opening I think I’ll have plenty more to come.

Hoverfly, Meadowbrown, Small Tortoiseshell and Moth

I dread to think how many babies the Sparrows have managed this year; I guess it makes up for last year though as no doubt their numbers struggled due to difficulty finding food for their young. They like to feed the newly hatched chicks on mushed insects and I often see them picking aphids off the roses in the front garden for me. Here they are picking I assume, aphids off hawthorn… Now why couldn’t they pick off all the ermine moths I had the past two years??!


In one of the photos of the Cinnabar, you may spot that one is laying eggs… I checked back a few days later and sure enough some had hatched. Once I spotted the teeny tiny little caterpillar, I spotted more, larger ones on other plants around the garden.

Cinnabar moth caterpillars

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars

The first Gatekeepers arrived on Thursday… The males usually arrive first, claim their territories and then the females follow a few days to a week later. And this is why I love the Gatekeepers so much…

Gatekeeper Butterfly

After weeks of trying to catch the Meadowbrowns and never getting this close, the first day I attempt photos of a Gatekeeper and this is the result…

Gatekeeper Butterfly

Last weekend I spotted my first Grasshopper Nymph, so yesterday when I mowed the end of the clover, I was extra careful in case I saw hopping. Sure enough there was. Finally I caught it and moved it to another area I had already strimmed… It sure blends well!

Grasshopper Nymph

Oh and I spotted a Vapourer caterpillar… I haven’t seen one for around 5 years now. Such an amazing caterpillar for such a boring moth.

Grasshopper and Vapourer moth caterpillar

Look who’s back!!! It’s the very happy Caterpillar!
Those of you who have been visiting for a while may remember this guy (ok, so not this specific one, but this species). I posted photos around 5/4 years ago… This one refused to walk or move, and wanted only to curl up. It was even a battle to get it off the leaf it was on. Oh well, no happy Caterpillar shots this time, but it’s still cute.

Sawfly Larvae

Just in case you’re under the false misapprehension that all my photos are successes.
The Meadowbrown was really difficult to catch, seemingly never stopping. It finally stopped yesterday and I was able to get a couple of relatively close photos. But most were like the two below.


I’ll warn you now, there are spider photos beneath the Meadowbrown shots.

Finally, my first good photo of the Meadowbrown!!


The Ragwort is out… and ‘ere by gum it’s reet nice.
Excuse me, just had to adhere to the Yorkshire stereotype there (sorry, some silly advert on TV which annoys me).
The border looks to be a rainbow of colour, highly unusual for me. And yellow generally isn’t a colour I ever have, let alone feature.


Meadowbrown Butterfly

And finally, the ugly creepy crawly Spider. This is a Nursery Web spider, and you can see its namesake in the below montage. She guards her nest well. Always there, if I even touch the leaves she’s out investigating.
In fact, I think she recognises me now and stays off to the side instead.
I wouldn’t mind her, if I didn’t look on the net the first time I spotted one in the garden and discover how huge their fangs are. Now it’s all I can think about. I stay well away.
They’re not known for biting. But I don’t risk it.
She’s actually quite pretty. If only I didn’t have a macro lens and can see those fangs.

Nursery web spider

Copyright 2013 Liz.
All rights reserved. Content created by Liz for Gwirrel’s Garden


17 thoughts on “Safari Sunday

    • Hi Cathy,

      Thanks very much. Butterfly season has officially started now; I estimate around 15 fluttering around this evening. Yet to see any Skippers though, which is a massive shame if I don’t see any.
      I just really, really hope I have Butterflies in my next garden. I’ll be so upset if we barely have any.

    • Hi,

      Most people think they’re fake, but honestly I didn’t do anything! ha ha. I have had difficulty trying to ID it, and it sounds like the Sawfly in question is actually a US sawfly which no reference to it being in the UK. So, no idea what species it is.

  1. That spide is worthy of a sci fi film! Great photos Liz, I have this vision of you spending hours lurking in the garden on hands and knees, camera at the ready, to catch all these critters. I admire your ability to spot even the tiniest signs of life, though I think my favourite photos are of the sparrows, just because I love them!

    • Hi Janet,

      Hope you’re well???! Been looking forward to your next post 🙂

      Ha ha, well as much as I’d love to assure you I do spend hours on hands and knees, I actually don’t. I just seem to spot things, I must have a keen eye (I think I have a photographic memory, personally as I often notice little things have moved. I’ve always just known things ‘look wrong’. OK, so it’s not a true photographic memory in that I can memorise an entire page but that’s how I used to revise – picture where something is on the page and try to remember from there.)

      Ah, I’m not so sure you’d love the Sparrows if you had as many as I do. But I do know I’ll miss them if the next house doesn’t have any. They’re sort of bullies too and just a peg below Starlings imo because they mob the feeders in their large families; one family flies off when another arrives and so on. So the other birds often feel harassed or bullied away so I have different types of seed feeders to give the rest half a chance. The babies are uber cute though 🙂

  2. Fantastic photos of your garden wildlife, such patience! Certainly a wonderful selection, I have visions of you crawling round on your hands and knees!

    • Hi Pauline,

      I don’t tend to crawl, rather sneak, crouch and I will lay/sit/kneel to get closer. Usually they’re very forgiving but I’m having real trouble catching any of the whites or Peacocks other than from afar. But I know they’ll all slow down later in the season and allow me the catch those rare ‘money shots’.
      The Gatekeepers are by far the most relaxed and considering the males will fly after anything that comes close, it’s quite ironic they’ll let me within a few centimetres. I still haven’t seen any Skippers which is concerning me, after last year when I had quite a few and both large and small skippers – a first.

  3. I really enjoyed looking at your excellent safari pictures, they are all great, even the spiders! I’ve noticed quite a lot of butterflies around now, I am hoping the Buddleia in my garden will attract some. I also like what you have written with the photos.

  4. Amazing photos! I have never seen a cinnibar moth before – really striking with it’s red and black colors. Love the rainbow garden shot, too. I don’t remember seeing a real sawfly larvae, but it does look just like the illustrations in one of my kids’ favorite books – after years of reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ to all four kids as toddlers, I almost have the whole book memorized. I know, you’re really impressed. Cheers.

    • Hi VW,

      I’m guessing you may not have Cinnabars in the US? I think you’re the second US person to say the same thing, anyway so I’m just making an assumption.
      You have way prettier butterflies and moths though to make up for it so I think we’re allowed to have something cool for once 😉

      Sawflies usually look pretty much like normal caterpillars; they’re the ones that when disturbed raise their bums and omit a nasty smell to warn you off. They’re usually only around 1cm (half an inchish) long.

      I think most people know the very hungry caterpillar 😉 I was raised with it, my mum knows it from of course reading it to me, my nephew and niece also know it… I think it’s one book that will be around for a long time to come.

  5. I just brought my kids here to see photos of a real life Very Hungry Caterpillar. They thought he was very cute, thanks. And guess what – there were several Veronica ‘Fascination’ sitting at the nursery yesterday so of course I brought a pot home. It’s got a place and I can still squeeze in a thalictrum, I think!

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