Oxfordshire Photo

I don’t these days get round to posting a weekly photograph all that often, partly because I’ve not been doing so much photography recently.

But a few weeks ago we had a day out in Oxfordshire. I had a meeting in Oxford in the morning and we then meandered our way home via Islip and Brightwell Baldwin, both of which have ancestral connections for me.

This is a wonderful, clearly very old, thatched stone cottage which backs onto Islip churchyard – indeed it is the churchyard wall!

Islip Thatch

We shall be revisiting both Islip and Brightwell Baldwin.


Suddenly it’s Spring. Everything in our garden is growing, and green, and flowering. From the bright shocking pink of our “Ballerina” crab apple tree to …

… our small pendant ornamental crab apple …

Apple Blossom

… the cherry tree …

Cherry Blossom

… and the tulips.


Our edible apple tree is just beginning to break into flower, so it should be full out in the next couple of days, and the lilac won’t be very far behind.

And just to top it all, the sun is shining!

Career Criminals Twain

The kittens (huh, some kittens, they’re a year in 2 weeks time and both over 4kg!) caught this morning trying to convince us that butter wouldn’t melt in their hot little paws.

Rosie (behind) and Wiz for once not practising for their Assassin’s Guild exams:

But then, “You ain’t seen me, right. It was him.”

And well might Rosie try to shift the blame, because the last two nights she has brought mouse (fortunately already dead) into the bedroom at about 4AM and proceeded to play with it, noisily. Monday night’s was confiscated after she’d kept us awake for half an hour; last night’s she took away and lost somewhere. (It was later found hidden in the dining room.)

[As always you can click the images for a larger view]

Hermit Crat?

And it came to pass that earlier today we had a pile of toot in the living room, where we were in the process of turning out the rat’s nest known as the under-stairs cupboard. Upon this pile there was a green bucket. And in the bucket a strange furry hermit crab — or should I say cat:

Wiz in a Bucket

Cat Cuteness

In today’s episode of cate cuteness from our furry tribe, Tilly has discovered the trough on the study windowsill in which I grow chillies. (The plants were cut back a few days ago and the trough hasn’t yet been moved!)

Tilly asleep in the empty chilli trough

Tilly asleep in the empty chilli trough

Meanwhile Wiz has found the warm spot in front of the airing cupboard.

Wiz has found the warm spot by the airing cupboard

Click the images for larger views on Flickr


Let’s catch up on a couple of recent (like this week) photographs. Specifically we’ve had two common, but quite interesting, moths in the house in the last few days. First of all we had this …

Angle Shades
Angle Shades, Phlogophora meticulosa

I struggled to identify it as the illustration in my book looks nothing like this, but then they are very variable. Angle Shades are actually very common, and one often sees thier grey (or green; again they are quite variable) caterpillars around.
[By the way the gradations in the photos are 5mm squares.]

Then last evening I had this one flutter in the window and sit on my desk …

Straw Underwing
Straw Underwing, Thalpophila matura

This is (at least to me) much more interesting as I’ve not knowingly seen one before — but then with its wings folded it is just another dark coloured moth, so I probably have seen them and just not realised. Again it is quite common on rough grassland, of which we have plenty near here.

I know most people don’t like moths fluttering about, an they can be irritating, but many are actually rather spectacular when looked at closely. Oh and I think both of these were females.

Nationally Scarce

Now this is something I never expected o see here in West London! Noreen found it on the (inside of) the study windows late last evening. It’s a (female) Jersey Tiger Moth.

I’ve only ever seen one once before, in Lyme Regis some 10 or more years ago. They are apparently “nationally scarce”. Once restricted to, yes, Jersey, they are most common along the coastal areas of the South West, although they are obviously spreading and there are now reports from the London area. Instantly identifiable as a Tiger Moth, the size (that’s a 5mm grid), pattern and the distinctively striped head are diagnostic. Oh and they like Buddleia, and we have a bush not far from our back door.

Sorry not brilliant pictures as this was lively, so contained in a plastic bug-catcher, being photographed with my point-n-shoot late at night with flash. I have removed the slight colour-cast from the images, I hope without destroying the moth’s colours.

Jersey Tiger Jersey Tiger
Click the images for larger views on Flickr

[More info on the moths here and here.]

Oak Bush CricketAlso found this morning on our bathroom ceiling was this gorgeous little Oak Bush Cricket. The body is about 17 mm long and note those spectacular antennae which are three or four times the length of the body.

These are not scarce; we often get them in the house at this time of year — one of the benefits of having trees in the garden (including an oak) and being close to woodland. They’re very forgiving creatures and will happily sit still to be photographed, unlike captured moths.