Visiting our lilac this year are the swallowtail butterflies, one of a number of butterfly visitors.

One tail seems to be missing!

A curly pollen-covered tongue!

Asian Hornet

Known in France as the Frelon Asiatique these hornets are a threat to bee colonies, they also hunt a range of other insects. They’re supposed to have a pretty serious sting, which is slightly worrying in that they are attracted to a bush in our garden, a bush which I have to pass close to when heading up to the washing line. They’ve been coming to this bush for the last two or three years and have arrived again in the last two or three days.

These hornets have a particularly deep and loud buzz (that of a small motorcycle) and a very aggressive look about them. But my theory is that hopefully if I leave them alone they’ll leave me alone. At the moment there are only one or two which will have come from a nest hopefully some distance away.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

The Earth is for Miners

It’s not just man that digs and delves – these are tiny miner bees, notice their legs covered in pollen

They dig down and create little cone-shaped casts

Then one of them appears to guard the entrance

We have six or eight of their little mining casts in the centre of our drive at the moment

Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise No.2

The Naked Woman and the Moth

I’m serious, this really happened yesterday morning! I wandered into the kitchen in ‘the altogether’ about seven o’clock and peered out of the window, checking for squirrels or birds etc. Nothing furred or feathered in view but then heavens above I see on the window in the corner by the shutter the biggest moth in the world! I dashed into the bedroom and told my hubby, who was still half asleep, then grabbed the camera. I was so excited, and had to get a few photos of the moth before she took off, so I threw the windows wide, clambered onto a stool, and then knelt on the edge of the sink while leaning out of the window as far as I dared in order to get my shots. It did pass through my mind at this time that I had no clothes on; I just hoped there were no hunters around!

The moth was incredible. I managed to get a passable shot …

Then I managed to very gently get her on my hand …

With her wings spread out she had to be seven inches across. I took a few more shots …

The moth seemed very sleepy and made no attempt to fly off, and ended up back on my hand. I still hadn’t grabbed any clothes and was now standing outside the back door – with moth attached. Fortunately she stayed attached while I nipped into the bedroom and pulled on a dressing gown and a pair of trainers. I wanted to take her up into the trees where she’d be camouflaged from predators.

Having done a bit of a search I’m fairly sure this is a female Emperor moth. What a beauty, and what a surprise!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise

This was genuine and happened yesterday, most conveniently for the weekly challenge. I wandered out onto the balcony in the morning and looked down into the woods. Something was different. There was a splodge of purple that had never been there before. I got the camera.

Time to zoom in …

The colour reminded me of a clematis or an iris … but how could that happen suddenly in the middle of the wood? This morning I scrambled down the bank between the trees …

And there it was! A beautiful tall iris with two more buds waiting to bloom. Never before has an iris grown down there. It’s magic!

Isn’t nature incredible. I can only assume that birds or the wind helped a seed down there.

Iris, no doubt, has been a big and rather beautiful surprise!

Weekly Photo Challenge

Careful Steps to the Washing Line

Our back door looks straight up the hill to the washing line. It’s tied to that spindly little oak.

It’s quite a long steep bank and as you walk up you have to be very careful of wild flowers …

More wild flowers …

A few more …

Then there are wild purple orchids …

And more orchids …


When I’d eventually picked my way up the hill the dandelion clock said ‘You took your time!’

I said, ‘Well I can’t go stepping on all these flowers!’

Crab Spider

Hoping my fellow blogger Pete Hillman may know the correct name for this little crab spider!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Security

Security but not as we know it!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dense

Three different densities from our farmer’s market in France: Delicious walnut bread, a wedge of 30 months matured Comté cheese, and local green grapes. What more could you want for lunch!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dense 

WPC: It IS Easy Being Green 2

I was thinking back to green insects and remembered the bush cricket who posed so well for photos. He had such an alien face!

Weekly Photo Challenge: It IS Easy Being Green!

Ouch! Don’t sit on the grass!

Weekly Photo Challenge

Too Close for Comfort

When you’re a lizard it doesn’t pay to hang around near the stone under which the Smooth Snake lives. Smoothy seems to have arrived today and has taken up residence under his favourite stone. Mr Lizard watched me taking photos, so I snapped one of him too, with his missing tail. I wonder how he lost that!

Our rather lovely smooth snake has made this spot his summer home for a few years, and doesn’t seem at all perturbed by us lifting his stone to take a few pictures.


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