Wildlife in the mediterranean garden

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MikeHardman

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2016, 09:48:14 PM »
Joanna,

'Just visiting' - quite so.
Visiting can be for various purposes, such as: basking in the sun, looking-out for competitors (guarding territory), displaying to attract a mate, resting, seeking safety through camouflage (maybe), drinking dew, feeding on honeydew - all incidental to the plant being visited.

Curiously, I just posted about white spotted rose beetles. The ones in my photo (Oxythyrea noemi) are very keen on red hot pokers, and they cluster at the part of the inflorescence where the nice orange florets are giving way to pale remnants. Are the beetles responsible for the florets 'going over', or are they feeding on the decaying petals or on nectar? The answer is not obvious from quick observation, as the beetles often seem to have their heads out of sight amongst the florets. I shall have to look more closely...
http://www.mgsforum.org/smf/index.php?topic=2265.msg15731#msg15731

Mike
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

Alan Hawes

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2016, 09:03:03 PM »
Wildlife Gardening in a Mediterranean Climate
I am head of the Costa Blanca branch, and we have a member of our group who has great knowledge of gardening for wildlife. She would like to respond to Mellissa’s appeal in the Journal, but is not an Internet user. Her name is Jacqueline Charron, and she has a remote cottage in the Font Roja nature reserve near Alcoy, Alicante. On a recent branch visit to her garden she gave us a twenty-page illustrated guide to the birds and butterflies that visit her garden that she had prepared for us, and we saw the nature reserve’s ornithologist ringing Great Tit nestlings from her many nest boxes. A real treat for nature enthusiasts!
Perhaps if Mellissa could contact me by email, (alanhawesinspain@gmail.com), I could put her in touch with Jacqueline, and establish communications.

Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2016, 12:43:52 PM »
Mike I'm wondering if you can help us with this.  Yesterday in the garden we saw the most amazing spider: it was on a scabiosa flower and was fabulously camouflaged.  The abdomen was very large, with stripes the same colour as the flower.  It was sitting very still, with its front legs (which were quite long, and like a crab spider) poised.  Later on we saw it had caught a bee that had come to the flower to feed.  I have attached a photo (apologies, it is not great as my camera doesn't really allow this level of zoom).  Do you (or anyone else out there) know what type of spider this would be?  It is the first time we have ever seen it.  Melissa 

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MikeHardman

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2016, 04:03:27 PM »
Melisa,

I am sure it is one of the crab spiders, in particular one of the flower crab spiders, and quite possibly Thomisus onustus; a female. Here is a nice page of unidentified Thomisus species, showing some of the colour variation, and describing how they can change their colour to match their flower
- http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/arachnids/spiders/thomisidae/thomisus.htm

More and very good detail on the Thomisus genus here
- http://www.jorgenlissner.dk/Thomisidae.aspx
And that gives a clue to IDing T. onustus:
"The species is easily identified by the triangular abdomen and the protuberances that carry the lateral eyes."

Also, the lines across the width of the abdomen distinguish it from Misumena vatia (which can also change colour), which has lines that run lengthwise along the abdomen.

I get T. onustus in my garden, in various colours and patterns, including a marked-whitish one like yours.
They are not worried about having a go at prey much bigger than themselves, such as butterflies.

As with many a titchy creature, the closer you look, the more fascinating stuff you see.
If you look closely at one of the (colourful) females, you might see a much smaller brown male on her. There's an example of that in the top-left photo in the first link above.

Mike
« Last Edit: May 14, 2016, 04:05:47 PM by MikeHardman »
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2016, 01:08:53 PM »
Mike thanks so much for that, and the very useful links.  I think you are right that it is Thomisus onustus based on the stripes.  In fact yesterday she had moved from the scabiosa to a pale pink phlomis, similar colour but a little different, and we had noticed she had changed to perfectly match that flower.  I wonder whether this one always picks pink-ish flowers, and what happens when the spring flowering season is over?  We may have to find some summer flowering plants in her very fashionable shade ...

Umbrian

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2016, 06:18:27 AM »
Yes, thanks for the links about spiders Mike - fascinating. I see a lot of these in the garden and have been amazed at how they change colour according to the plant they are on - always meant to do some research but never found the time. Shall be looking out for the hopeful males now, lurking and awaiting their chance!
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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Fleur Pavlidis

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2016, 09:10:01 AM »
As I was sitting on the lounge floor playing with my grandson, I looked up through the glass doors to find myself being stared at by a fox on the verandah. This in itself was not very surprising because being on the edge of town we often get foxes passing through, but he wasn’t alone. My non-threatening neutered tom was sitting a metre away  on the wall taking stock and behind the fox were two not so unthreatening magpies jumping up and down. I flapped my arms to scare the birds which flew off leaving the fox to turn tail and trot back into the garden. The cat carried on with his business.
MGS member, Greece. I garden in Attica, Greece and Mt Goulinas (450m) Central Greece

Joanna Savage

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2016, 03:59:47 PM »
Mike, thankyou for the interesting links you are posting on the Forum. I was particularly interested to follow the link about the spotted rose beetle, 4 May, which led me to the site of Dr Guido Sabitelli, a UN health expert, based in Jordan, who collects bugs.

Joanna Savage

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2016, 04:03:23 PM »
Apologies to Dr Guido. In fact his name is Sabatinelli.
It is easy to become lazy when using the ipad. I usually don't take notes before I post, and then I make mistakes.

Umbrian

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2016, 05:50:35 PM »
Lovely story Fleur. One reason I find gardening so rewarding is the closeness to the natural world around us - noticing things that many people never see.
Today I decided to tackle a very overgrown rambling rose that had been allowed to do whatever it wanted due to a blackbird's nest in an adjoining shrub. I had observed that the fledglings seem to have flown and frequent heavy rain was making it impossible use the path without getting soaked.
I spent a good hour climbing up and down a step ladder, tying in long shoots and dispensing with others, getting thoroughly scratched in the process. Once satisfied that I had done all I could I decided to prune the shrub before I cleared up. Imagine my surprise when I found the nest still in use........the hen was sitting looking at me and had obviously been there throughout my labours....at one point I was tying in the Rose just above where the nest was.
After I had hastily swept up and moved away slightly, she came down into the garden and started to rootle for worms, the male took over nest duty.
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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John J

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2016, 01:52:30 PM »
Not in our garden but the Troodos Botanical Garden. Spotted these big fellas all over a plant of Troodos Sage (Salvia willeana) this morning.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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Fleur Pavlidis

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #26 on: May 18, 2016, 07:56:45 AM »
Lovely photo, John. Could you send it to me in full size? It might be suitable for a banner photo on the website when it's time to change. I'm grown fond of having creatures at the top of the page and the salvia is a beauty.
MGS member, Greece. I garden in Attica, Greece and Mt Goulinas (450m) Central Greece

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Alisdair

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #27 on: May 18, 2016, 08:10:58 AM »
On the strength of your lovely picture I've just ordered seed, John, in the hope that it'll grow for us here in the UK even if our hot lowland garden in Greece is too hot for it....
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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John J

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Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #28 on: May 18, 2016, 12:04:52 PM »
Fleur, photo will be on its way later today.
Alisdair, in the Trees and Shrubs of Cyprus book it's described as being endemic to Cyprus, confined to the ophiolite formations of the Troodos range (1000-1950m), growing on rocky places and in pine forest and shrubland.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

Re: Wildlife in the mediterranean garden
« Reply #29 on: May 19, 2016, 01:20:09 PM »
John that is a beautiful photo!  Umbrian, I liked your story of the blackbird nest.  Many birds choose to nest near something that will scare away predators: perhaps the blackbird thought you moving about in your garden would help keep its predators at bay, including magpies, rats and cats.  There are some great examples out there: hummingbirds nesting beneath hawks to protect them from jays and egrets and herons nesting above alligators to protect them from raccoons and possums.  The thorns on the rose bush would also be a very attractive deterrent.