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Sandbath time, wasps and ants nests, September flowers and sunsets

Date posted: Tuesday 10th September 2019

Sandbath time, wasps and ants nests, September flowers and sunsets

Enjoying a coffee at Sunday’s Café in the warm sun when keen birders shouted out, ‘Jenny!’ and there was this juvenile kestrel having a good old sand bath wallow in the dry, dusty path not far off from where we were all sitting. Naturally, as soon as I managed to get the camera out it began to take flight, but I love this waddly stance – not a brilliant photo but you get the picture! I’ve seen what is probably the same juvenile squatting on the path several weeks ago, fairly impervious to my approaching on the bike.

There’ve been quite a few reports of wasps nests on plots this September – we’ve got at least two and I’ve put up a warning notice to deter folk from going past the compost heap where the nest is very active. I discovered another nest on my neighbour’s plot, in an old compost heap and have let Lucy know about it. If left alone they’re not a problem and live and let live, I say, as they won’t survive the winter – let them enjoy getting drunk on the rotting fruit and go out in style!
“A familiar insect of UK summers, the black-and-yellow Common Wasp is a frequent visitor to gardens, often building its large nest in the cavities in houses and roofs. It is a social wasp, living in large colonies within a nest built out of ‘paper’ that is formed by the queen chewing up wood. Inside the nest, sterile workers hatch and look after the new young produced by the queen. At the end of summer, reproductive males and queens develop and leave the nest to mate. The males and previous queen die, and the new females hibernate, ready to emerge next spring and start the cycle again. Common Wasps catch a wide variety of invertebrates, mainly to feed to their larvae; they feed themselves on high-energy substances like nectar, rotten fruit and sugary picnics!” (Surrey Wildlife Trust).

Similarly, ants get a bad press but again, I live and let live and feel quite guilty if I unearth a nest, to see the agitated insects scurrying off to relocate the eggs. They don’t appear to do any damage to crops, other than milking aphids of black/greenfly and I’m always at war when too many aphids overwhelm my broad beans etc…

This lovely Mexican sunflower, Tithonia has done well this year – presumbably we’re going to have to adapt to climate crisis and start embracing all things Mediterranean and semi-exotic…
It’s the Autumn Social this coming Sunday so it’s been all go on the planning and organising front for most of the summer. It looks as though it’s going to be a good, sunny weekend and we’ve been enjoying the most gorgeous September days of warm sun, light winds and slightly chilly mornings and evenings – really wonderful time of year when the weather’s so good! Beans, tomatoes etc are going over, the squashes are huge and ripening and the late summer, early autumn flowers are out – the asters are bright and everyone seems to have superb dahlias! The echinops have been splendid this year, although I wish I’d put in the smaller variety as these tend to overwhelm my small perennial flower beds.