It was truly delightful watching this juvenile robin sunbathing, dust-bathing and preening last week at Polesden Lacey! I had a tough time choosing my favourite images from two wonderful days out with my best friend, Rachel and her boys Nate and Dan. We had quite an adventure at both Polesden and Wisley Gardens. Even managed to find the female grass snake that likes to sun itself near the rock gardens! Her eye is a blue-grey tone indicating that she is about to shed her skin.
The other treat waiting for us at Wisley was the little grebe pair on the Glasshouse Lake, who have finally nested and managed to hatch a couple of beautiful little humbug-striped chicks. This is the third year that I have seen little grebes nesting on the lake and they really are wonderful to watch. The parents carry the young chicks on their backs on the water, until they are old enough to start fending for themselves.
The beauty is a common blue butterfly, a real favourite of mine! The beast in question is an Ichneumonid wasp. They are parasitoids, meaning that their larvae infect and feed on other invertebrates, eventually killing the host. I think this particular wasp is Apechthis compunctor, which lays its’ eggs in the pupae of butterflies. The adult often emerges from the butterfly itself. No small wonder that I would see them at NT Denbies Hillside, amidst the wonderful array of blue and copper butterflies that were on the wing. I can’t be 100% on my ID as these insects aren’t a specialist knowledge of mine, also there are well over 2000 species of ichneumonids in the UK! Watching this wasp actually fly right up to the common blue that I was photographing was fascinating, even though it gave me the creeps. I just kept photographing, hoping that I could capture a shot that told a story of the interrelationship between invertebrate species. This has to be my story and photograph of the week, even if there is an undercurrent of horror about it! Ecology is all about the interrelationships within specific ecosystems. Every time I get to watch something like this I learn more.
Such a beautiful scene, the last glorious tones of Autumn, really needed a stitched panorama to get in all the details! This is Claremont Landscape Gardens, managed by the National Trust, near Esher and Cobham. A wonderful place to explore, relax, have a cuppa and feed the birds (please bring proper bird seed or duck/swan pellets that are available at most garden centres).