Sunday, 31 July 2016

Sawfly Spotted.

I espied quite a colourful insect in the greenhouse today or at least it was so when in flight. When static and with its wings folded the red flashes on its abdomen weren't visible and it was a fairly boring brown. What was very evident in its resting state was the long needle like projection from its abdomen. It looked as if it could inflict a rather severe sting. However it transpires what I was looking at was the ovipositor of a female horntail or giant wood wasp. These sawflies do not bite or sting and can be spotted from May until August. They deposit their eggs, (two or three), in the trunks of trees. Depending on conditions they complete their life cycle in one or two years. Hopefully this specimen does not decide to lay its eggs in the wooden structure of the greenhouse.


Friday, 29 July 2016

To the Point and Back.


Last Monday was a muggy day. Not that bright but warm and humid. Too hot for my usual running haunts. T'was a day for the coast so that I could benefit from the on shore breeze. After having consumed my lunch I jumped into the horseless carriage and headed to Benone. I parked at the tourist complex and then headed for the beach. It was busy but only for a few hundred yards on either side of the roadway which runs onto it. After picking my way through the lazy throng and the attendant ice cream vans I headed towards Magilligan Point. Only a few dog walkers who had been dragged from their cars by their canine friends disturbed the peacefulness of the day. Out on the Lough I could see the small ferry heading towards Greencastle. The rush of the waves silenced its engine. Arriving at the Point I had to decide whether to retrace my steps or take to the roads. I choose the latter and longer option. Maybe not such a good idea. By the time I was unlocking my car my garmin informed me that I had ran almost twelve and a half miles at a tad under seven minutes thirty seconds per mile. In pre Brexit measurement that is about four minutes forty seconds per kilometre.



Friday, 15 July 2016

Swallows and Amazonian Weather.

A typical summer's day for Northern Ireland - rain. I woke up to rain and it continued until lunchtime. The rain gods then decided to stop the precipitation for a time. The temperature rose to 25 degrees centrigade , (whatever that means), and the day turned hot and humid. Not pleasant. Then the rain returned. The swallows gave up on the outdoor life and proceeded to roost in the stables. A sensible decision methinks. The rain increased in its intensity and I stayed in its lee. It won't be long before the swallows realise that a return to Africa would be a very sensible idea.


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Redcurrant Delight.

This time last year the produce from the redcurrant bushes was feeding the local blackbirds and thrushes. Once there was even a blush of red on the fruit they were spotted and devoured by my feathered friends. There was no sharing of nature's spoil. They saw red. They saw an easy meal. They stripped the bushes of their berries much more efficiently than any mechanical harvester. Now it is my turn to have the upper hand. The fruitcage is in place and the avaricious birds are kept at bay. I pulled about a pint of red currants this morning so probably something in excess of a pound. It does seem rather strange talking about pints of fruit. I expect that a few small pots of redcurrant jelly now require production.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

Brigadier Edgar James Bernard Buchanan DSO.

Born on 6th May 1892 Brigadier Buchanan was the eldest son of Robert Eccles Buchanan and his wife Ethel Maud, (nee Williams). At that stage the family lived at Harding Street, Londonderry. They subsequently moved to Templemore Park. The young Buchanan entered Foyle's preparatory school in 1899 where he was joined by his younger brother Richard Brendan Buchanan.

He completed his education at Portora Royal School before joining the Royal Engineers. As a career soldier he served in India, Mesopotamia, Singapore, Malta, North Africa and Italy. He was wounded on two occasions during the Great War and was awarded the DSO. After the Second World War he was Director of Fortifications at the War Office. His promotion to the rank of Brigadier appears in the Gazette of 14th November 1947. Brigadier Buchanan died at Halesmere Surrey on 13th September 1979. His brother , a Second Lieutenant with the Royal Scots Fusiliers, also served during the Great War but fell at Galipoli on 20th June 1915.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Spud Wednesday

I planted my early potatoes on 16th March. Today, one hundred and seven days later I dug up a couple of tops. The traditional day for this ritual in Northern Ireland is 12th July so unfortunately I have broken with tradition. Ye gads I wonder what retribution awaits? Anyhows the potatoes were just about ready for consumption and they have been. The first potatoes of the year from the garden are always a bit special, floury and with thin smooth skins. Hopefully I won't have to buy any more potatoes until 2017.


Saturday, 2 July 2016

Unrequited Hen Motherhood

On Thursday I left home at about 8.15am after having let the hens out of their coop and collected the three eggs that had been laid before coop opening time. When I returned home that evening only seven hens were pecking around in the run. Number eight was missing. It wasn't long before I discovered her in the egg laying compartment of the coop with feathers fluffed up and clucking contentedly as she sat on five eggs that had been provided by her coop mates. She had gone broody and was not a happy bird when I prised her from her fruitless task and removed the eggs. As yet I have been unsuccessful in breaking her hormonal behaviour. If I do nothing she should revert to normal in about three weeks time. That is the timescale for hatching a fertilised hen's egg. Apparently cold baths can knock the broodiness on its head so I might try sticking the hen's nether regions in one of the trugs that collect the rainwater from the greenhouse.