More progress on the pond front. It's still amazingly clear, so it's easy to see what's going on under the water, even right at the bottom.
Pondskaters are still eating, mating, fighting and whizzing around
They've been joined by two Backswimmers, Notonecta glauca. These seem to perform a similar role to a spider on land, catching and eating things caught unawares. As well as swimming around just under the water's surface, they also dive after prey. Apparently they have a nasty bite if you handle them...
Loads of Lesser Water Boatmen have appeared sometime during the past few days. Confusingly, another name for the Backswimmer is Water Boatman, though the two species seem quite different.
The real Water Boatmen have a vegetarian diet and seem to spend a lot of time at the bottom of the pond, only coming to the surface for air, which they carry in the form of a bubble stuck to their rear end. They have 'oars' as well but are quite distinctive.
There are lots of beetles in the pond, some quite big, but not Great Diving Beetle size. I'm going to have to get a pond life book to work out what they all are. We've got a school of three Whirligig Beetles, too.
Two pairs of Common Darters were ovipositing (egg-laying) on Saturday, with other unpaired males bickering for control of the pond. No Broad-bodied Chaser this week
Most exciting (I think) was the discovery of a resident Smooth Newt this afternoon, followed rapidly by our first sighting of a Common Frog. It appeared on the side of one of the plant pots before hopping onto dry land and squeezing under the turf at the edge of the pond. I'll have to be careful when I'm walking around.
With the hot weather this weekend, I haven't been in the mood for much more than lounging around in the garden. It's been great. Butterflies have gathered in numbers on our 10-feet high Buddleia bush:
Peacock and Comma
And then this creature turned up:
Hummingbird Hawkmoth! I've been growing Valerian in preparation for attracting 'Hummers' but this one found the Buddleia perfectly adequate. It did some funny things: feeding happily one second, then whizzing off at rooftop-height over the wheat field, before appearing back on the flowers again within a few seconds
I've been doing quite well for beetles in the garden over the past few days. This evening, I was lying on the lawn, peering into the depths of the pond and watching the Water Beetles and Pondskaters going about their business.
My arm was going a bit numb so I stood up, and noticed a beetle on the lawn, right next to where I'd been lying. It was a [the?] Lesser Stag Beetle, as seen on Thursday evening. It had been very lucky not to get squashed!
After taking some photos, I moved it to safety in one of the flowerbeds and it rambled off through the undergrowth. These seem to be very docile beetles - it didn't run away or mind having its picture taken.
I'm not sure what happened, but these are the remains of a Stock Dove.
There were several piles of feathers, starting near a bush and then moving out into the open as whatever it was worked its way through its meal. Finally, the legs and pelvis and the wings and sternum (click for slightly gruesome photo) of the dove were left in two separate portions, away from the feathers, and picked clean very neatly.
Anyone care to guess what did it? Bird or mammal? The motive is easier to work out...