We had just finished our Crastor kipper and breakfast, and moved back into the kitchen to clear the cooking smells away.
The windows were already wide open, to assist with this, and we could hear the sound of an agitated great tit.
We've not seen the tits in the garden recently and thought that perhaps there was a cat about, attracted by the smell of our cooking!
He was flitting around in our apple trees and calling with the sound that sounds like the tapping of an empty milk bottle, and then we saw the reason.
I say he, because it stood out as a big brightly coloured bird with almost a complete black breast, the extra wide bib almost covering his whole chest.
He was ridding our apple trees of rather large bright green caterpillars, and was not as appeared agitated, but we assumed looking forward to a big juicy meal. We saw him drop two to the ground, but he didn't follow either of them down. Instead he kept searching, and found another which appeared to stay welded to the underside of a leaf stem, making it easy for him to eat.
His appetite satiated he moved off.
Having had large caterpillars in the garden last year on our fuchsia, I was curious to see what type we had this year. I picked one off the ground, it was definitely a hawk moth of some sort, as it had the tail horn that differentiates them from other large caterpillars. Last years being an elephant hawk moth.
My first reactions from childhood memories identified it as a privet hawk moth, but on second thoughts, they may have been bigger.
So I delved into our copy of the1984 Readers Digest Field Guide to Butterflies etc etc; and had a search.
I'm still not convinced what variety they are, but plumped for the eyed hawk moth, because it's known to cling to the underside of the leaves of apples and other fruit trees.
All hawk moth caterpillars seem to have a row of pink spots according to the pictures in the book, these didn't show any spots, but had the blue coloured horn, noted to be part of eyed's identification characteristics.
|Last years variety|
Food from the garden
Some failures this year, apart from the apple trees, blueberries and raspberries bearing no fruit, our florence fennel, lettuces and celeriac have all bolted, and the carrots, despite a second sowing following earlier failure, we have....three!!!
We had a good crop of charlotte potatoes despite, I assume, some form of blight, which also affected our pink fir apple, so I took the tops off them and left them in the ground. We have been left with a fairly good crop of small potatoes.
Still, we have an excellent showing on our grape vine, who knows we may be able to make something of them this year.
Glad to see
I'm told a certain little yorkshireman still reads my blog, and takes notice of my writings. Glad to see he still finds me interesting enough to join in with his Maidenhead mate and to mention me.