Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Butterfly Weekend

Its been a pretty dire year for me regarding insects in general. I have only really had two days with Dragonflies, and Butterflies have been really hard to see. The best weather always seems to occur when I am work, withs seemingly a never ending sequence of dull, cool and wet weekends.
I wasn't feeling all that great this past weekend and didn't really want to go out. It was supposed to be another cloudy and cool Saturday morning with the promise of the occasional sunny break, so was rather surprised when the clouds cleared not long after a late breakfast so I decided to go for a walk with the camera and see what I could find.
This time of year the birds tend to be rather quiet, and hard to see so I want really expecting much. The walk through the conifer plantation and down to Aston End was punctuated by the occasional calls of young Blue and Great Tits, and singing singles of Song Thrush and Chiffchaff. Speckled Woods should have been out but I never found any, but once clear of the woods White butterflies started to appear, predominantly Green Veined and Large, and one Small. A few red Admirals and my first Gatekeepers of the year were seen on brambles in the hedgerows.
A big flock of screaming Swifts over the ford were the first birds of note, though there were also a few Yellowhammers and Linnets around. Once onto the footpath heading up river Meadow Browns and Ringlets started to appear, plus a few more Gatekeepers. The best bit, a large patch of thistle and burdock near the horse paddocks held my interest and most of the photographs were taken here. Apart from the abundant Meadow Browns, I found a few Large, Small and Essex Skippers, some Tortoiseshells and my one and only Comma of the year (so Far). Beetles and bees were targeted as well, including a very nice long horn called Rutpela maculata. Another smaller beetle with swollen legs caught my eye-I had seen a few on Twitter earlier in the week but the name escapes me.
I was expecting to encounter Small Heaths on the more open grazed paddocks but couldn't find any, but heading up the hill to the Chells Manor radio mast I found at least a dozen Marbled Whites.

Since then the weather has improved considerably with a  lot of sun and heat (maybe too much of that as I write) and this has brought a few more species into the garden. Since I have a lot of nasturtiums, I have started to get frequent visits from Large Whites (so the nasturtiums probably won't last much longer) plus a few Green Veined Whites. As mentioned in previous years, Ringlets are also turning up-they seem to favour a few areas around the pond but I don't really know what plants are bringing them in. With a lot of marjoram starting to flower, Gatekeepers are also appearing. I am also getting a lot more bees-still to be identified and one of these days I will have to try and sort out the moths particularly as there are a few plants grown specially for them.

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