A Little Bit of Greece in September

I seem to have done quite well this year getting away, in fact some of my friends keep asking when I am back to my second home! Here are a few from our last visit to Skiathos. we tried to take a few images from around the town this time. We had never actually got up the clock tower before.

We also went over to Pounta which is across from the town and took some images looking back at it

And as usual the scenery was breathtaking.

The wildlife changes with the seasons just like it does here. There are often less in the way of butterflies and more in the way of birds but, always something of interest.

and, of course lots of quality time soaking up the sun, eating out, meeting up with friends…..

Yammas!

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Shrewsbury Flower Show

It has been a few years since I went to this show. But, with a decent weekend forecast and having lots of other events in the area cancelled due to the appalling weather this summer, I decided it was time for a visit. The gate tickets are not cheap for sure but, the firework display is always phenomenal so we made a day of it.

As always, there were fabulous flower displays in the tents and a host of other entertainment.

Some was definitely geared towards the younger visitors but, we both enjoyed the quad bike stunts.

The Dingle looked as beautiful as ever although, I have so often gone down there with my camera at lunch, it seemed strange to see quite so many people!

As well as the military band, this year for the first time, they also had a folk group playing ~ the Oysterband. I confess to being quite surprised, I always think of the flower show committee as being a little er “set in their ways”! It was most enjoyable sitting on the bank with a glass listening to some lovely music.
Finally, of course, the fireworks! These have always been spectacular and this year was no different. They did put them to music which contributed hugely to what was already a fabulous atmosphere……

I have chosen three to provide you with an idea but there are a dozen or so in a Flickr album for anyone else that loves fireworks ……

A Day Without Rain

Well it is raining now…but, at least we had a lovely day earlier for a change. The day started when I looked out and saw a bird on the telephone wire that I didn’t recognise. In fact I still don’t know what it was, it looked a lot like a spotted flycatcher but had red tail feathers! However, this was my cue to grab my camera and get out whilst I could 🙂
The first butterfly I saw was one that I thought I saw a week or so ago but, it was in flight. Otherwise this was a first for me and not a familiar sight in Shropshire:

Marbled White

Meanwhile, I was treated to an amazing display by the local Kestral who normally disapears quite quickly when folks are about. But, I walked slowly and it was quiet up there today.

Despite the recent weather, the field is full of Brown butterflies right now and here is Small Skipper, Meadow Brown, and Ringlet respectively:

And, to add just a little more colour, there were a few burnet moths flying:

Finally, as I arrived this thrush was out catching worms so I stood a while

What a great day!

Return to Skiathos

Well barely as I arrived back and it was time to go again…I seem like a right gad about but, this one had been planned for some time.
The Dragonflies and Butterflies in June are amazing so I had a wonderful time with my macro:

Last time, I only managed one very distant shot of a Goldenring dragonfly and I was pleased to have the opportunity to capture several this time.

Butterflies were plentiful and I like the light showing through the wings of this Cleopatra, showing off that lovely orange colour. I was lucky enough to have a couple of firsts too one of which was my first Large Tortoiseshell.

A closer look at a Silver Washed Fritillary:

As always there were an amazing array of other insects and I liked this Long Horn Beetle (strangalia maculata):

Although it was very distant, I had my first glimpse of a Blue Rock Thrush:

I also had the experience of seeing yet another Ant Lion, this one is Nemoptera sinuata:

Of course, there was also plenty of walking, beaches and lovely food. I will leave you with this shot of Kastro and gather together some more scenery for my next post 🙂

Skiathos in Springtime

As you may I have gathered by my lack of posts, I have been missing for a short while. It was somewhat spur of the moment but, the flights to Skiathos went down to a very good price and then my kind friend Yvonne invited me to stay for a week. Yvonne normally runs painting classes on the island but, is taking a break this year. Her blog is here and is a fascinating account of arts and culture of the island. Anyway, I jumped at the chance, who can resist an offer like that? I intended to go and paint too but, seeing the island so fresh and with so few tourists, I just had to go and explore. I did just have a tiny dabble one of the days….. this little watercolour sketch which was the view from my room.

I spent many happy hours sitting on this step. Every morning I watched a hornet come and peel a little bit of wood from one of the posts, roll it up very carefully and then fly off back to his nest. The birds became familiar with Great tits arriving in the morning and Goldfinches in the afternoon. On the flowers in the foreground, the Meadow brown butterflies danced all day.

Skiathos is a busy tourist destination and although you can find quiet places to visit even in high season, I was amazed to find myself walking down empty beaches. The sea is normally very calm in summer but, because they were experiencing a few storms after some lovely weather the week before, the sea was wild and beautiful.

The birdwatching was the best I have experienced. I was lucky enough to see Night Heron, Olivaceous Warbler, Temminck’s Stint to name but a few. I also finally managed to capture on camera a Male Red Backed Shrike which has been a mission for a couple of years!

Wild flowers were abundant and so fresh!

There were plenty of butterflies and I saw one or two to add to my ever-growing list on the island. I had brief glimpses of Two Tailed Pasha, Scarce Swallowtail and Cleopatra. The tiny little ones were starting to emerge and also a large Blue butterfly that I am unfamiliar with. Sadly no photo’s of these!I did get some nice shots of some fresh Mallow Skippers, such tiny little things:

and the very beautiful Southern White Admiral.

The dragonflies were emerging on a daily basis which provided hours of fun with my macro.

Finally, I have wanted to meet a gentleman who lives on the island for some time. Vasilis Korallis takes town and nature walks which run from Skiathos town. It was so lovely to finally meet him and get a copy of his book which has wonderful walks and is written with delightful humour. It is rare to read a reference type book and find yourself laughing out loud. I recommend it highly, further information can be found on Skiathorama. Incidentally, this new site is a project by some more friends on the island and is a wonderful site covering the flowers, nature, culture and artists of the island. Do take a look around while you are there. You will also find one or two of my photo’s 😉
Many, many thanks once again to Yvonne once again for her generosity in sharing her beautiful corner of Skiathos and providing me with an opportunity to discover more delights of my favourite Greek Island.

*Whispers, I will be back again soon………..*

Moving into May

Although, it doesn’t really feel too much warmer. However, there are plenty of new arrivals. Last week I saw the first swallows and this week the first swifts. The recent weather has meant that for much of this week, we have had flood alerts here in Shropshire. The River Severn is very high right now so after a winter where it was below normal levels, in the image it is well above. Normally you can walk under this bit of the bridge.

The butterflies that I would expect to see by now are still absent and the Orange Tips are the only one that I have seen in any number. This one very kindly posed for me in the garden.

But, an old friend did materialise on a trip out over the weekend. This is the first damsel that I have spotted for the year, newly emerged, a week later than the first spotted last year.

On the same trip, we also saw two Mistle Thrushes hunting for worms.

The bluebells are now in full flower:

Whereas, these Ramsons flowered only this week:

Have a great week!

The Birds & the Flowers

I am afraid that right now the poor bees don’t get a look in, although I have seen a few dodging the rain here and there. The rainy week has also seen very reduced numbers of butterflies. The good thing is that the plants and trees are loving it and everything has turned green as if by magic. The bluebells are blooming in the local woods, the scent is beautiful right now when walking though the glade.

Some of our summer visitors have arrived and being lucky enough to live by a small coppice, I get the opportunity to watch them at quite close quarters. There are several pairs of Chiffchaffs and I have watched the female scurrying around and building the most wonderful nest as Mr Chiffchaff sings loudly up in the tree.

We have several Common Buzzards up on the Hermitage. As soon as the clouds break, you can see them soaring above our house. Normally they are by far too high to get a decent image but, the other day they were being harassed by the Crows. If you are looking in from across the pond, I am pretty certain that you don’t get these over there but, they are a lot like some of your Hawks. I even managed to catch him in a little blue sky 😀

About, two years ago, I did used to see a very occasional rabbit up there. But, it was very rare! Now they seem to be making a comeback and instead we have a lack of Grey Squirrels. I am not certain why, nature has a strange way of evolving when left to itself.

Along with the season, it has also been terribly windy. I had to smile at this little one sitting on a garden fence getting a little bedraggled!

A lot of the wild flowers in the meadow are common, it is always nice to see the return of them. The first daisy, the first dandelion or in the case the first buttercup. I see them all emerge and know that the butterflies and moths that like each plant will follow.

Have a lovely weekend 🙂