Optimism

While out walking this morning, I almost walked into a spider’s web which had been spun across the footpath. The spider responsible was dangling from a tree and, while I have to respect her optimism, I’m not entirely convinced that she could have managed a human sized meal.

On the subject of not being entirely convinced, Waarnemingen tells me that this is almost certainly an Araneus diadematus, also known as a European garden spider. I don’t know a lot but I do know that this species normally has cross-shaped markings across it’s back — and this is something I couldn’t see while waving my camera around in the middle of a field.

So if anyone out there is better able to identify this, or knows anything that I don’t (which is most people), please do leave a comment.

Gatekeeper

Also known as the hedge brown.

With today being both the end of August and the end of the school holidays (not a coincidence), I suspect this will be the last bug photo that I manage for a while. It’s been interesting, though and I have enjoyed finding, photographing and atttempting to identify the various wee beasties that I encounter on my daily walk. So I should thank Claudette for having come up with the GOMA idea in the first place.

We’ll see what, if anything, I find as Autumn draws in.

Not a dragonfly

The heatwave has finally abated and I no longer have an excuse for avoiding a daily walk. Which is lucky because it allowed me the opportunity to see this little guy, which the ObsIdentify app identified as a Blue Featherleg with 100% confidence.

blue-featherleg

This would make it a damselfly, and not a dragonfly as I had initially assumed. Clearly, I still know nothing.

Of frogs and beetles

Another heatwave is upon us and I should probably be staying in the shade rather than obsessively meeting my daily exercise target. But if I had stayed indoors, I wouldn’t have seen this guy sunning himself.

Frog783

This sent me down something of an internet rabbit hole. While the French are normally famous for eating frogs legs, I remember seeing somewhere that archaeological evidence points to the English having come up with this idea first — by a few thousand years. While trying to confirm this, I came across something much better.

When This Beetle Gets Eaten by a Frog, It Heads for the ‘Back Door’

Here’s the proof. You have been warned.

Aglais io

Aglais io, or the European Peacock, is a striking but reasonably common butterfly found in Europe and Asia.

The eye spots on the butterfly’s wings are to deter avian predators, which is all well and good when it’s outdoors in the summer. During the winter, though, when the butterfly is hibernating in the dark, they aren’t much use at all against mice and other rodents. In these cases, it will hiss.

I had no idea that butterflies could make such a noise.

Wild blackberries

When I go walking I pass a lot of wild blackberries. Clearly it’s the climate for them in this area — even the carefully cultivated berries in my own garden are thriving.

We also have vegetables, and these have not done as well as in previous years. A large part of the problem was that the garden centres were still closed when we were getting ready to plant and consequently I ended up attempting to germinate whatever seeds we had to hand.

Many germinated, some didn’t. Of the seeds that germinated, a fair few didn’t survive being transplanted into the garden itself.

Still, we will have plenty of courgettes this year and the one pumpkin plant that has survived has just sprouted a flower — hopefully there will be more to come. We also have a fair bit of sweetcorn growing. No cobs yet, of course, but the plants themselves are growing very strongly indeed.

We also have weeds. Far too many weeds. I really do need to start getting these under control otherwise nothing is going to survive until autumn.

Wish me luck.

Smeagol

During the course of my evening walk, I pass a small lake which the Flemish conservation group Natuurpunt has spent most of the spring draining. This has been in order to remove debris from the bank and improve the connection to the Grote Nete river in order aid the spawning of fish such as the burbot.

The cleanup appears to have been completed, the lake has been refilled and the path around it has been reopened. It’s clearly not completed yet, but it is coming along very nicely and I shall look forward to seeing how it progresses from here on in.

20200708573

My purpose in mentioning this, however, was to post the above photo as an excuse to crack a series of weak jokes about hobbit holes, river folk and the fact that The Shire can be found in the vicinity of Kasterlee.

Yes, I am massively stretching things, both geographically and in terms of fictional small folk, but the Kabouterberg is well worth a visit — with or without kids — even though it’s not as close to us as I would like.

There are, of course, no hobbits in the above photo because it was raining.

While on the subject of hobbits, it’s worth mentioning that I am currently reading The Hobbit with the twins and it’s going down a lot better than I expected. Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves have just left Beorn’s hall and are heading towards Mirkwood and the boys won’t stop talking about it — which I am taking as a most excellent sign.

When we started the novel, I was assuming that they would soon get fed up with Tolkien’s incessant songs but I have been proven to be very wrong about this indeed. It probably helps that I never make any attempt to actually sing any of these songs.

Little Bee

I meant to post this a couple of days ago, but time still has a habit of getting away from me. Still, even I can recognise a bumblebee when out walking.

That said, I hadn’t realised that there were over 250 species of the things.

littlebee.html565

There is an urban myth about the laws of aerodynamics proving that bumblebees can’t fly. This is, of course, nonsense and the origin of this myth is somewhat unclear.

I did hear an anecdote some time ago (which after a bit of digging, I should note is probably wrong) claiming that an engineer at a dinner party performed some rough calculations and concluded that, according to his equations, bumblebees cannot fly. He later realised that he’d failed to take into account of the fact that bumblebees don’t have fixed wings.

Or, as Karl Smallwood puts it for Today I Found Out:

Basically, if you calculate it all assuming bumblebees fly like airplanes, then sure, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly. But, of course, bumblebees don’t fly like airplanes.

Smallwood also notes that the fact that scientists are still having to repeatedly prove that bumblebees can fly in order to counter such an obviously nonsensical myth says a lot about the gullibility of people.