"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Blackberrying, Books and Garden Butterflies and Moths


D and I went blackberrying last weekend at our usual location along a public footpath near a river.

We spotted this Robin's Pincushion or Bedeguar Gall near the car park. These are caused by the larvae of a tiny (4mm long) gall wasp - Dipoloepis rosae. The grubs secrete chemicals which causes the abnormal growth of roses forming the pin-cushion. They are found in late summer are widespread and common and the galls contain many chambers each containing a larva. It gains the red colour as it matures during the autumn and the larvae feed on the plant over the course of the winter and spring eventually emerging as adults which reproduce asexually.

Haws and elderberries are ripening in the hedgerow and we managed to collect

a large container of blackberries.

The next day we made 3 jars of blackberry jam and

an apple and blackberry crumble.

Thankfully, this year I was careful where I walked and didn't manage to twist my ankle again down an entrance to a badger sett - I did get covered in insect bites though :(

Recent Reading

"The January Man A Year of Walking Britain" by Christopher Somerville has been shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize and I really did love this book. The book was inspired by a song of the same name by Dave Goulder and is the story of a year of walking in various parts of the British Isles. The walks follow routes that remind the author of his father and the many walking holidays they shared. The author describes the people he meets, the history, the wildlife and the landscape as he searches for the truth about the sort of person his father really was. Christopher Somerville writes beautifully and the book is a poignant and moving tribute to his father. Highly recommended.

The 6th Ruth Galloway mystery book - only 4 to go and I am up to date! Easy and fun reading and I enjoyed this as much as others in the series. I find these books hard to put down and Ruth Galloway is a very engaging character.

Martin Edwards is a new author to me - I think I was tempted to buy the book because the series is set in the Lake District although I may have seen the books on someone else's blog - Rosie or Codlins and Cream?? The main characters in the book are are Daniel Kind, an Oxford Historian, and his new girlfriend Miranda who escape to renovate a cottage in the Lake District in search of a new lifestyle and DCI Hannah Scarlet who has a new job in charge of a department that has been set up to review old crime cases. The first case she reviews involves the murder of a woman tourist on the Sacrifice Stone near to Daniel's cottage and Daniel and other characters in the story all knew the person originally suspected of committing the crime. The book does take quite a long time to get going although presumably it is to introduce several of the people who will feature in future novels. The ending has an unexpected twist and I have already uploaded the second in the series to my Kindle.

Garden Butterflies and Moths

A rubbish photo but the first garden Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) of the year spotted last week didn't linger long! In fact, I have seen very few of this species at all this year.

For various reasons I haven't put out my moth trap much this year so these two species were found in the garage.

Last night I spotted what initially looked like a Red Admiral fluttering around the garage light. This morning I spotted a large moth on the garage wall and was really chuffed to find a Red Underwing (Catocala nupta) - this is a species I have never managed to trap. In the photo below you can just see a glimpse of its red underskirt.

D managed to get a much better photo below as I released it.

Straw Underwing (Thalpophila matura)


Countryside Tales said...

Fantastic moth pics. Love the red underwing in particular. You always do such useful book reviews, thank you. I am off to check them out (already have the Elly Griffiths- super series) x

Toffeeapple said...

The Red Underwing is spectacular, isn't it?

I am currently reading A Sting in the Tail about Bumble Bees by Dave Goulson which will be followed by another of his A Buzz in the Meadow.

I am glad that you didn't stumble into another Badger's Sett!

Chris Rohrer said...

The Straw Underwing is a stunner!!! And yes on that jam. Looks fabulous!

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thank you - I have a long wait for Red Underwing to finally appear! I may try more Elly Griffiths when I have finished the RG books :)

Toffeeapple - Thanks :) Yes Red Underwing is rather spectacular :) Do hope you enjoy the Dave Goulson books - I really enjoyed them. I think he has a new one out too which I must try and get hold of! :)

Thanks too re: Badger's Sett :)

Rosie said...

Glad you had an accident free outing to collect blackberries, the jam looks delicious, we've made plum jam over the last week. I think it was me who listed the Martin Edwards books with Daniel Kind and Hannah Scarlett as I've read two of them now and enjoyed them. The January Man sounds interesting. Your butterfly and moth photos are lovely. I've seen more butterflies this weekend than I've done over most of the summer. We saw some lovely ones on our walk yesterday and in the garden today:)

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks so much Chris. Will make some scones to have with jam plus clotted cream! :)

Rosie - Thanks so much. Plum jam is lovely too - but my favourite is Damson - wish I could think of an excuse to go to Herefordshire and buy some! Bought a jar last year from Morville Dower House Gardens. I had a feeling it was your blog re: Martin Edwards books - I checked your book lists yesterday but must somehow have missed them! Glad you have seen lots of butterflies when on walk and in your garden :)

Pete Duxon said...

Well done on the.... m. ... other 😊

amanda peters said...

Lovely post, I went and got some Blackberries after you said you had been, made two pots of jam (little runny) and baked a Victorian sponge cake for my dad's birthday.
Think I have only seen one pincushion, they are pretty amazing.
The Ruth Galloway mystery book looks good, will add to my loooooong list of books to read:)
Moth photos lovely hope you get a little more time to put the trap out in September.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Pete Duxon - thanks Pete and lol - you always bring a smile to my face. One day I will get you to like moths........... :)

Amanda Peters - Thanks Amanda - glad you got blackberries and were able to make jam! TBH I wouldn't be without my sugar thermometer makes it much easier to know when setting point reached although I still double check with the cold saucer and wrinkle test!!! Not tasted ours yet so just hope it hasn't over set!!! A lovely idea for your Dad's birthday :)

My son was fascinated by pin-cushion and what had made it!!

Ruth Galloway series is really good - but start with the first one and read in order if you can. They are very easy books to get into - sheer escapism! :)