Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) – I caught this one intially taking a few sips of water from my birdbath. I was looking through my patio window, and thought to myself I bet I won’t have time to swap over lenses, will I? I had my macro lens on, and I half expected the bird to fly, but it didn’t. So I swapped over the lenses and took a few shots through the glass. My lens is only 300 mm max, so I needed to get closer, which meant opening the patio door. The bird is surely to fly now! I was slow and quiet, and the bird was still there, perched on the edge of the birdbath, apparently taking a nap? I managed to get within a few feet of it before it finally realised I was there and flew to the back fence.
Common Frog (Rana temporaria) – I found this one hiding under a rock near the garden pond. It was smaller than my little fingernail. As you can see it still has its tail, but its limbs are developing, and it can hop a short distance, although a little clumsily. Early days yet.
Common Frog (Rana temporaria) – At 12 mm(1/2 in) long, I just about spotted this little froglet in the garden pond. How quickly it has grown. I spied its younger siblings still with their tails, feeding on algae beneath the water, but this one will now be carniverous as it ventures out onto land for the first time.
Common Frog (Rana temporaria) – Life in the garden pond can be quite a challenge. As featured in a previous post, I watched damselflies hunting flies, snatching them out of the air. Now, as newly emerging damselfies are leaving the water where they have been as larvae for the past year or so, I have seen the frogs leaping out the water in a bid to hunt them for food. There are around 3 or 4 frogs in the pond, as well as all the tadpoles. As if the frogs were not enough, I was but a couple of feet away from a little bird, a Dunnock, as it snatched a freshly emerged damselfy off its perch within the pond. Yet there were dameslflies mating on the margins, coupling to ensure another future generation. Triumph and tragedy in its own little ecosystem.
Salvia rosmarinus – I have always grown Rosemary in the garden. It is a member of the mint family, the Lamiaceae, which also includes nettles. Apart from its distinct aroma when the leaves are crushed, and its taste when used in cooking as a herb, it also makes a lovely evergreen woody shrub which has these lovely little ornate flowers. They attract polllinating insects. Double-click image to enlarge.
I have always been around peonies. My mom and dad grew them, and I grow them now … well I just let them get on with the growing. This is a double peony, and it is newly blossoming. I liked the way the morning light had caught it, and tried to capture it just as it was in that moment. I tidied a few distractions up with the patch and clone tools in my photo editor, and added just a little high pass sharpening. Sometimes less is better. Double-click image to enlarge.
Viola riviniana – Although unscented, these lovely little flowers have always popped up in my front garden during the spring. Many folk consider them to be a weed and pull them out. But I rather like them, and they never give me any bother, so I just leave them be. I have added a side view because that long slightly curved spur at the back helps in identification of violets that are similar. Double-click on images to enlarge.
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) – I saw two of these around the garden pond today … and they were on the hunt. Although not power fliers like the larger dragonflies, they were quick and nimble, and I watched one of them snatch a fly out of mid-air. I was quite amazed how they soon got used to my presence and allowed me to get fairly close up to them with my macro lens. Double-click on images to enlarge.
Pyrrhosoma nymphula – I saw three of these around the garden pond fluttering lazily in the sunshine before settling down again. I know they breed in the pond, as I have seen their larvae under the water.
Common Frog (Rana temporaria) – I can’t believe what a frenzy of activity is going on in the garden pond at the moment. It is teeming with tadpoles and all of them are scraping algae from the rocks, so much so some of them are virtually picked clean. They have grown so much bigger, too. Double-click images to enlarge.
This is a Panola … a cross between a pansy and a viola. I planted them last autumn in some pots to give the garden a little winter colour, and they are still going beautifully.
I like to challenge myself in photography, and I try to aim to refrain from cropping where possible, but I know that is not always possible to do, but I managed it here. My aim was not only to capture the heart of the flower and the detail not always seen there in normal naked eye viewing, but also the vivid colours. I refrained from using flash, and captured the image outside of harsh sunlight. In post-processing I altered the white balance slighlty to get close on the original colouring as I had under exposed fractionally. I also reduced any noise, and sharpened using the high pass filter rather than smart sharpen, as I wanted it to be subtle. Double-click image to enlarge.
Kerria japonica – These flowers are from a deciduous shrub which was already growing in my garden from the day I moved here almost 30 years ago. It goes by different names, but there are no thorns on this rose. It never fails to display these small, bright yellow pom pom flowers.
Pulmonaria officinalis – This is the flower the bees and the hoverflies love to drink from. It is quite an important early flowering plant for spring pollinators. I am always taken how the colour of the flowers vary so differently on the same plant – bi-coloured. You can double-click image to zoom in.
Common Frog (Rana temporaria) – This is an early stage tadpole, and I appear to have zillions of these teeming in my small garden pond at the moment. Note the branch-like appendages either side of the head … these are external gills, which as the tadpole develops will become wrapped in a pocket of skin to become internal. Amazing to think that this little fellow, if all goes well, will become a frog! Double-click for a closer peek.
Copyright: Peter Hillman Camera used: Nikon D7200 Date taken: 16th March 2020 Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire
This is a hardy Geranium after rain, one of the few remaining flowers left in the garden as autumn deepens. The flower is so delicate and refined with those shimmering raindrops it is like it is made from the finest glass.
This can be quite tricky to photograph. Besides the lighting conditions, it all depends on where you focus as the depth of field can go anywhere. I always use manual mode for full control, and take several photos, picking the one which I think works the best. I tried to keep it soft on the side edges, ensuring the background was completely blurred. This makes the flower and its details pop more, especially if you can tone down the back lighting, too.
The Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) has gone mad again this year, spreading its roots and sprouting throughout the garden pond. Yet its sweet sugary goodness attracts many insects, so it is always good in that respect. This is one of the last blooms which I wanted to try and capture before they all disappeared with the advance of autumn.
As you know I like to get close to things, and I chose a Petunia which has been growing in one of my containers on the patio for this one. I was so attracted to its deep rich colours and the intricate veins spreading through the petals like ink stains on blotting paper.
Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata) – Over the last three years since my garden pond’s inception it has attacted some interesting and beautiful forms of wildlife. Growing Water Mint attracts these attractively coloured little micro moths. The adult moths lay ther eggs on the plants and the hatching caterpillars feed on the leaves.
Back in March I discovered clumps of frogspawn in my garden pond which was built 3 years ago in the spring of 2016. You can imagine my excitement as this was the first time I might have my first tadpole nursery!
Before I knew it the tadpoles were appearing, and as they grew I noticed how they would graze on the algae growing on the stones in the shallows. I like how they have gradually turned from black blobs to these rather beautiful bronze speckled creatures. I was also quite surprised by how their eyes are so pronounced. They not only feed on algae but water fleas. It will take 16 weeks for them to grow their back legs, then their front legs, and eventually they will absorb their tails to emerge from the water as froglets. It will take them 2 to 3 years to reach breeding maturity. Rinse and repeat.
Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer …
This is one of the best years for peonies I have known here. I do love the rain so long it doesn’t pour endlessly, and this morning it was but a brief spell. I love the freshness and invigoration it brings to the garden, so I couldn’t resist popping out with my camera when the rain had stopped.
The flowers were heavy with the raindrops, looking almost as if they were bowing. I have a special place for Peonies. My parents grew them back home, and they remind me of my younger years growing up, and so enjoying those warm sunny spring days.
Autmum fell to winter, and winter flew and we are already enjoying a wonderful spring here on this side of the pond. Finally I made it back after a fairly long hiatus, and I will look forward to catching up with you all!
This is one of my favourites which seemingly appeared out of nowhere in one of my flowerbeds. The Welsh Poppy Meconopsis cambrica has a the most beautiful sunny colours, so bright, cheery and vibrant the petals almost appear to capture the sun itself.
I have three Lavender bushes in my small garden, and the bees and butterflies really enjoy visiting them. Next year I may consider planting a lavender hedge, if I can make room for one. This butterfly with the twin spots is called the Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus).
Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer