Thursday, 16 July 2009

Unknown Flower, Hogs, Web Building and Others

A bit of a mixture today. First off I noticed that the older Juvenile Starlings are now beginning to change to their adult speckled plumage. One look at the beak and you can tell how they get through four fat balls every day!

Juvenile Starling

Writing about fat balls - this Starling had managed to grab a remnant which was small enough to pull out of the feeder. It was being hotly pursued by another juvenile. As it rushed around and dropped its prize a couple of times little bits fell off so the other bird did end up with a share.

Its Mine  All Mine

Compo the Blackbird still hasn't been to the birdy barbers. Feathers sticking out in all directions but otherwise its behaviour seems completely normal.

Compo the Blackbird

For a few days now I have been admiring a small yellow flower. It's about nine inches high and the flower is about an inch across. From its growing position in a tub near the feeders I think it has grown from the bird seed mixture. If I can find out what it is I will grow a tub of them next year as I think it is pretty and the flower seems to last quite a while.

Yellow Flower

Yellow Flower

When Bobby and I had a walk round the garden about 9 p.m. I had a look in the pond. Something I don't usually bother with at that time of night. Some movement among the plants poking out of the water caught my eye. There were at least six black and yellow striped spiders of various sizes busily weaving their webs. I was going to get the Canon to take a photo but in the end decided to try for a video clip. The light was reasonable but fading and with all the surrounding vegetation I had, for the first time with the camcorder, to use manual focus. This is a compilation of several of the spiders. I was captivated watching how busily this group of spiders were working to build up their webs and could have watched them for hours. Towards the end a certain white hairy monster decided to have a barking session.

Any identification of the spider would be appreciated.

Today I went searching in case the spiders were in view. I found several resting in the leaves of some pond plants. They don't look quite so yellow in full daylight and the black hardly shows at all.



I had once again put out the Hedgehogs' supper earlier and by half past nine there was one taker. This was the small one I saw the other night. This time by itself. I didn't want to disturb it by going outside so I took a few flash photos through the back door. Again I had to use manual focus but didn't quite get it right this time. The small hog is a little larger than half the size of the adults.

Juvenile Hedgehog

The Hedgehogs seem completely indifferent to the single flash. If I put the camera on auto focus then it sends out a rapid series of flashes while it focusses. Then the hogs notice and disappear rapidly. Bobby and I watched through the conservatory door while this little hog spent a while eating and then rushed off. When Bobby went out about half past ten there was one of the adult Hedgehogs tucking in to the leftovers.


  1. Wow great post today John...I love the movie of the spider building it's web!! That spider on the leaf don't have a clue, but it's not a very beautiful spider is it...Oh and the Hedgehogs are awsome as always love those little guys.

  2. Thank you Crista. I was fascinated watching the spiders. They were so quick. They are still resting on the leaves (7 p.m.) so I guess they are most active at night. The Hedgehogs are adorable. Bobby gets disappointed if he doesn't meet one every night. He is going to be very upset when they hibernate, :)

  3. Cracking selection of pictures John, especially old Compo. Perfect exposure to bring out his feather detail.
    Can't help with either of the ID's.
    That clip of the spider is fascinating to watch, as they build their webs. Little works of art, and so perfect.

  4. Thank you Keith. It was interesting to watch a lot of spiders working in such a small space. Their webs all but touched each other - no escape for any small night flying insects over that part of the pond.

  5. That's a fascinating piece of video of the spiders building webs. "Hi" to Bobby also since he was part of it :-)

  6. Hi Mick. Bobby would say Hi but he's in the land of nod.
    Glad you liked the video - busy little arachnids, aren't they.

  7. Hiya John, Earlier in the year I found a spider on Sandown marshes which rested parallel with rush stems with its two front pairs of legs straight out in front like that and the others trailing behind - almost invisible to the naked eye - and concluded (possibly incorrectly) it was Tetragnatha extensa. Your spiders appear larger, though. Neat video, btw.

  8. Poor old Compo, he does look a mess! I feel I should know that flower John, I'm sure I have had them in the garden in the past, a member of the Sunflower family I think but I can't quite pin it down, very pretty though. I've got to the stage where if something looks pretty I don't care if it's considered a weed!

    I had to laugh, I was so engrossed in watching your spider video that I forgot your 'hairy monster' warning and both Louis and I ended up peering out of the window to see where the barking was coming from :)

  9. Hi Rob. Thank you kindly good sir. I think you have solved it. I had a look at some pictures on the net and saw one almost identical. There were many variations in the body colour, size and markings as it is such a large common group. As for the size of mine. It is always difficult with a photo. I think the largest had a body getting on for one inch in length - presumably a female - and others were quite a bit shorter.
    I am glad I decided to video them. I think it is more informative about the way they tackle web building than a few stills.
    They definitely appear to be night hunters as at 7p.m. they will till resting and at 9p.m. they were all busy building webs again.

  10. Hi Jan. Compo looked an even sorrier sight this morning after the heavy rain. With the gaps in his plumage the water doesn't run off so easily and his flight was laboured. I hope a moult will bring him back to normal before the winter.

    Now you mention it the plant does appear like a miniature sunflower. I will just have to plant a few of each type of seed and see which it is.

    I forgot to take out the sound of Bobby and when I play it back his hackles rise and he is off looking for the intruder. Funny that dogs don't seem to recognise their own voices.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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