Argiope bruennichi (wasp spider), female (and male at the lower left?), dorsal
Once a very rare find at this place, so rare that I had to look it up to be sure but the typical zig-zag band and the lack of the quite distinct body-lobes of Argiope lobata gave it away. I don’t know if the wrapped spider at the lower left is indeed a male, I did not want to unwrap it. It also looks a bit too large for a male. The above picture has been slightly enhanced regarding colour saturation (not changes in hue!) and details, the two below the fold less so. (My camera is still a cheap digi-snapper without any ability to get the raw files). Continue reading →
Hungry bumblebee, trying to break open a rhododendron bud.
I found this little critter flying around our purple rhododendron, visiting the nectar providing blossoms and tried to make a picture of it. It took me some time to persuade my cheap little diggi-snapper to switch to the macro-function. After the first nice picture of the bumblebee visiting an open flower and doing what bumblebees do inside an open flower (let me assure you: it looks quite a bit like…uhm…) the insects jumped to the adjacent blossom which was still closed. We botanists call that thing a bud. So it sat there, right on the bud seemingly doing nothing, taking a break or something. If it had not been for the nice profile I would have waited until it visits the next open flower (I think I’m still bound to the very finite number of pictures available on celluloid in my thoughts instead of the over thousand that fit on the 8GB card tucked in the camera). It was only later at the large monitor that I saw the curious behaviour.
With the help of the large monitor it was also possible to identify the species: Bombus terrestris which has a long proboscis of about 8-9 mm (don’t know how much that is in old money) which could be long enough.
I made a handful more pictures which you can see (in full resolution now) at my Flickr account. Please follow the link in the Flickr-plugin.
PS: And at some day in a future far away I will be able to spell “Rhododendron” right the very first time.
I do not know if the identification is correct, the picture is of low quality and the spider disappeared before I was able fetch more details (you need the face and the underside to get a more certain identification).
And if you think that it is weird with this cat sleeping in its litter box, you might a take a closer look:
Holstein cat, still nappin’
Can you see it? It might be visible better with a shot taken from the other side:
And still nappin’, one wont’ believe it
See where it laid its head on? Yes, that’s a stone. Quartz, to be a bit more exact, rolled round by the powers of the water of the river Rhine, buried under some soil when the Rhine meandered away, digged out again, and placed carefully in my herb bed to keep the cats—especially this cat—from using it as their litter box. And now? Now this brute rests its head on it like on a well aired cushion filled with the finest eiderdowns! If it weren’t for the proof by these pictures, one would have a hard (ha ha!) time to believe it!
A plant known under many names:
Fellenwort, felonwood, poisonberry, poisonflower, snakeberry, are the english names I found (there are most probably way more) and some of the German names are Bittersüß (bitter sweet), Hundbeere (dog’s berry), Mäuseholz (mice wood), Mausholz (mouse wood), Natterholz (verbatim: adder wood, but “Natter” is also a synonym for a snake in general), Saurebe (hog’s tendril), Stinkteufel (stinking devil), Süßstoff (sweetener), Teufelsklatten (devil’s claws. Klatten is the Middle High German word for “Krallen” meaning claws), Waldnachtschatten (that is the official name, I guess).
All parts of the plant are very poisonous!
Just if you need to know 😉
Freshly de-lawned and cultivated, just a day later
The constantly increasing prices of food accompanied by the ever decreasing quality persuaded me to try it with some head lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. capitata), scallions and chile with some Hokkaido and zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) under the bushes. The two bushes to the left are red and black currant, Ribes rubrum and R. nigrum respectively. The other bushes are just flowers and are meant to hide the garden dump behind it.
If you look closer you might see some paw-prints overall and a larger area under the bigger currant-bush that looks as if it had been dug over:
That was, as you might have guessed, the holstein cat, which I shall name from hereon: The Caterpillar! and will tailor a nice bright cape for it.