Monday, 29 June 2009

After a long absence… the Cuckoo!

I know I have been absent from this blog for a while but I have kept up my other blogs and thank you to those who read and follow me there!

Today with the advent of very warm weather for the UK I thought I would think about a bird that appears, although secretively, earlier in the year and then departs again at this time of year, the Cuckoo.

imageThe Cuckoo is a dove-sized bird with blue grey upper parts, head and chest with dark barred white under parts. With their sleek body, long tail and pointed wings they are not unlike kestrels.  Sexes are similar and the young are brown.  They are summer visitors and well-known brood parasites, the females laying their eggs in the nests of other birds.    When the Cuckoo nestling hatches, it instinctively pushes the other eggs and nestlings out of the nest and is tended by its ‘foster parents’ until fledging.  

Caterpillars and other insects such as beetles and ants form the major part of the Cuckoo's diet.  Many of the caterpillars are the hairy or brightly coloured poisonous ones, but their digestive system is specially adapted to cope with the hairs and toxins.

The female will also sometimes eat the eggs and nestlings of the host bird.

Cuckoos can be seen throughout UK  but especially in the south and central parts of the country.  The adults usually arrive in late March/April and depart in July/August with the young following about a month later, returning to central and southern Africa.

An old rhyme describes the Cuckoo's time in Britain:

In April I open my bill
In May I sing night and day
In June I change my tune
In July far far I fly
In August away I must

The familiar ‘cuckoo’ sound is made by the male.  The female will tend to issue a rich, bubbling sound.

It seems one too many birds may have flown over the Cuckoo’s nest, as the Cuckoo is now a member of the UK’s red list which contains the birds who are considered close to extinction.  This could be accounted for by other birds being in decline, the nests of which they used for their own young.

It would be interesting to hear how its American counterpart is faring?

Friday, 5 June 2009

Painted Lady

This week it was reported in the UK that we are being invaded by a beautiful butterfly called Painted Lady.image

The Painted Lady is a long-distance migrant, which causes the most spectacular butterfly migrations observed in Britain and Ireland.

Each year, it spreads northwards from the desert fringes of North Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia, across mainland Europe and reaching Britain and Ireland. In some years it is an abundant butterfly, frequenting gardens and other flowery places in late summer.  Well, this year, for whatever reason they have decided to come in their droves!  We even had one visit us whilst we were sitting in our conservatory reading the Sunday papers.  Luckily, we were able to release it back into our garden so that it could fly away to join its mates.  Apparently, they thrive on the common Thistle plant which grows in abundance everywhere.

In honour of this beautiful migrant I thought I would search the Design Style Guide team for further examples of butterflies.  Here is what I found!


Butterfly Garden Original Oil Painting







Blue Butterfly on Bevel Suncatcher


Sundance Reflections




Colorful Butterfly Window Cling Suncatcher with Stained Glass Effects


Clinging Images




Butterfly Pillowcases


The Closet and Curio Shop



Embroidered Clock, Floral Garden and Butterflies

Satin Stitchery



You can tell I like butterflies, can’t you?

Sale Corner!

Occasionally I will show items that are for sale from me direct which can be paid for using Paypal. Always check to see shipping charges which will need to be added to the item amount!

For regular prices check out my Etsy shop, as well as my sister shop on Etsy which also sells encaustic art

Some paintings can be bought directly from my website

Some samples of my present & past work to give you inspiration for that special gift!
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