Friday, 27 May 2011

Goings On!

So much activity around the sheds at the moment, and not just me chipping away.  The pigeon family have now hatched two young, I climbed up yesterday to take a quick peek into the owl box, and there were two wobbly pinkish beautifully ugly baby birds.  The blue-tit young are very noisy, constantly cheeping for food.  The parents go back and forth to the Sycamore tree, beaks full of insects - so I thought I would take a closer look to see what they were eating.  Lots of greenfly are available.

While there I noticed that the leaves have become covered with red and green pimples - I've seen these before and never known what they are.  Apparently they are leaf-galls - caused by miniscule mites which feed on sycamore leaves.  Each red gall marks a spot where a mite has fed.  The females over-winter in crevices in the bark, emerging in spring to feed on the new leaves.  Where they feed, galls develop, each mite being responsible for many galls.

In contrast to the conspicuous red marks on the upper surface of the leaf, the corresponding locations on the underside of the leaf are just tiny holes, fringed with hairs; the mites use these holes to gain access to the galls, and lay their eggs in them in May. The developing larvae feed on the tissues that line the galls. Luckily this is not harmful to the tree.  The undersides of the leaves are also littered with white carcases, shed presumably by the greenfly as they grow out of their skins.

I began to notice every tiny thing, or things.  Caterpillars were woven in a sticky web around my apple leaves and were eating away - codling moth caterpillars I think.  (I wonder whether this name comes from codling - an apple of tapering shape, or coddle - treat, treat oneself as invalid, wrap up, keep warm!)  

Then I noticed this shield bug, (chust or stink bug), I could see its sucking mouth parts and was lucky whilst examining it as I hadn't realised they have stink glands and release large quantities of foul smelling liquid if disturbed.  Anyway I moved it on.

Growth like mad in the greenhouse - I had no idea cucumber leaves were so bristly, it surprises me every time I touch them.

And I feel rather sad about this chap - a pipistrelle bat.  I found it on the top of the door to my workshop, well, hanging down.  I think I must have trapped it inadvertently when I opened, and then shut the doors.  I've only just noticed it, and saw its little brown furry body.  I will make sure to take care and look out for bats in future.



  1. I accidentally squashed a little green frog in the door of the truck. What on earth was it doing on the truck for me to squash it?

    baby bird season is about done here though my sister and I startled three baby wrens at her house the other day. I spied one of them in one of her trees today.

  2. I'm so glad you stopped by my post. I've enjoyed my visit to yours. We have a problem with gall on the Garry Oaks here on the Island. The trees grow only here, and are already quite stunted and gnarled - an adaptation to the drought and harsh conditions - so the gall is just another layer of ugliness.....but the tree is truly Une Belle Laide and much valued for that very hardiness.
    Your work is beautiful. Stone fireplace surrounds are almost unknown over here, except in old buildings in Ontario. I don't think I've seen one out here.

  3. Ellen - poor frog, amazing the little spots creatures want to make their home - their instincts do not take account of our rather random human behaviour!

    Pondside - thankyou for comments - the adaptation made by plants and animals on islands is fascinating, and the way they all work together too. I love the idea that this evolution is still going on.


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