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The Smell of Rain

Everyone will recognise the welcome smell of rain after a hot dry spell, but where does it come from?

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Red Underwing

Sue L writes:

It’s September. I have the window open to the morning. I hear the fluttering of wings and assume it’s a Red admiral as they often come into my room at this time of year. But it isn’t a butterfly….

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Bush Crickets 2

Sue M writes:

For about the last 10 years, I’ve been observing the speckled bush crickets* that live in my very ordinary garden in Witney.  Each year I learn something different about them…

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Bush Crickets

John C writes:

Out for a late evening walk on Friday 30 July on the Roman Road near Crawley with bat detectors to look – listen – for bats and grasshoppers we heard a very loud clicking from the rough vegetation at the side of the track.

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Slow worms

Maureen F. writes:

I have a good population of slow worms in my garden and they particularly like to bask in the warmth of my badly maintained compost heap, under an old plastic mat that I use to keep the heat in.  

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Orphan Swift

David R. writes:

Last Sunday evening Jean and I walked down to the churchyard in Shilton where Jean found a baby Swift in the grass. I took it home and put it in a cardboard box in the dark and contacted a friend who gave me the phone number of a lady who lives in the village of Laverton near Broadway. It was quite active in the box at times, scrabbling around.

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Longhorn Beetle

John C writes:

Our annual walk in the Cutsdean area of the Cotwolds on Sunday 18 July. At 30C plus it was very (too!) warm but the compensation was that the butterflies and insects were very active. Everywhere was buzzing as I remember the countryside used to buzz.

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Caucasian Wingnut

Lindsay Hunt writes:

Rather spectacular at the moment is this unusual ornamental specimen tree in Blenheim Park. It stopped me in my tracks on a recent press trip to the Palace as I was walking along the lakeside path between the Boathouse and the Cascades.

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Emerging Dragonflies

Maggie C writes:

On Wednesday 26 June I shared an exciting morning with my neighbour, and fellow member Jill, in her garden watching Southern Hawker dragonflies emerging from their nymph bodies. The nymphs were attached to the plants surrounding Jill’s pond and Jill found 4 on the same day.  They split their skin and popped out as winged adults.  It took about 3 hours to complete the process so Jill very kindly provided tea and cake while we watched and waited.  Luckily it was a sunny morning.  When we watched one dragonfly leave, we weren’t alone.  A sparrow flew down with amazing speed and nearly had the dragonfly but our shouts of alarm scared it off and the dragonfly lived to see another hour or so (perhaps).

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Belated Lesson in Ladybird Identification

Sue M. writes:

The Lime trees in my road seem to be quite good for insects. Most years I see large Lime Hawk Moth caterpillars on the pavement underneath, and rescue those that haven’t been trodden on. Last year I rescued an Oak Bush Cricket I found strolling down the pavement under the trees.

Lime tree in Hailey Road

The other day, when we found a large number of Ladybird larvae and pupae on the bushy basal shoots of the Limes, I  decided on another rescue mission. About this time of year, the Council come round with noisy machinery and tidy up the trees, and all those Ladybirds would end up in the shredder. So I gathered a small ice cream tub of leaves with larvae and pupae, and a couple of small adults, and released them in my garden. Only after I had done this did I look them up, and discovered that the 3 larvae and some of the pupae were probably Harlequins. I’m pretty sure that the other pupae and the adults were non-Harlequins. Ladybirds are difficult!