a new camera to start off a new stage of the blog. I am on wordpress 3.0.1 now, and it’s a little strange to begin with. the camera is a canon powershot SX 120 with ten times optical zoom. it does have a bit of a problem focusing on close up with the zoom , even in macro mode, so I end up missing butterflies or just getting totally unfocused blobs until I back off with the zoom a little. there’s an easy video clip recorder I have been having fun with, and mostly I think the photos have a clearer quality.

this looks like a meadow brown sampling the cosmos.

these few days of superlative calm and blue skies after the rain and winds of August have encouraged a few butterflies out. this summer, although there have been plenty of large whites, small coppers, common and holly blues, and meadow browns, the big hibernating butterflies have been missing. there was no influx of painted ladies either; I saw one ten days ago when the weather warmed up over the penultimate weekend of August, none before or since. a couple of red admirals appeared at that point and have reappeared with the good weather, accompanied by more.

this red admiral must have been newly emerged, it was so perfect, the fur on its body all glossy, and it spent about ten minutes on the flower, completely undisturbed by my photographing it.

they are still feeding on the buddhlias. the echinacea, which was very popular, is over, but they are also attracted to the rotting plums out of reach on the tree or windfallen in the grass.

there was a small tortoiseshell  yesterday and today a single peacock was back, now seen twice in my garden this year.

friends have reported hummingbird moths in their gardens, I am most envious. all through June and July when my wild flower and meadow garden was full of  knapweed and other suitable flowers, there were plenty of wild bees feeding, but no butterflies to speak of.

the big fennel plant in my garden, gathering the autumn sunlight to itself as it begins to ripen and fall.

during the last wet and windy week a bullfinch appeared on my honeysuckle, eating the berries. a beautiful bird, its deep rose  chest and blue-grey head and wings making it immediately obvious. I don’t think I remember seeing one before, and certainly not in my garden. I had been told that there were some in an old orchard in Clip Street last year. then a female arrived a week later; there are perhaps a pair around, but they are shy birds.  I had tree sparrows visiting my feeder two winters running; another attractive bird with their chestnut heads and black cheek spots, but the return of house sparrows seemed to put them off and I haven’t seen them for about four years. I have stopped feeding seed to garden birds, as however careful one is about the feeder itself, the ground below, where much edible debris falls, cannot be disinfected and trichomoniasis (a parasite which grows in the throat and prevents food passing through. it is passed on by birds feeding their young and males feeding their partners) was affecting the greenfinches and chaffinches. since I started feeding peanuts I have not had this problem, although they are not as popular as the feeder seed mixtures.