Monday, 7 July 2008

Butterfly blues?

An hour before we started the rain was torrential. Undeterred we arrived at the meeting point and the weather seemed to improve. To the south and west there was a hint of blue skies and a bit of sunshine. A Large White flew past, a good omen? However within a few minutes the sky to the east had blackened and we could hear the rumblings of thunder.
Where are the worst places to be i
n a thunder storm? On the highest point for twenty miles under a small group of trees or out on an open field? We were at the first and going to the second.

I have never done a butterfly safari in full waterproofs before.

But the rain hadn't started so we set off through the Rock Gardens to the field at the bottom of the hill. Once at the field it was only a matter of minutes before we had a lovely fresh male Large Skipper in the net. Shortly after a Meadow Brown found itself being swept up. There were butterflies everywhere. Small Skipper was next on the list. As we walked along the track there were butterflies coming up in front of us all the time. A migratory Large Yellow Underwing moth was next for the net. Eventually we came across a Silver Y moth. Rather unusually we also found a Buff Arches moth sunning itself on a Bramble leaf. Making our way back up the field a Sparrowhawk dashed in to the trees in front of us and a Whitethroat sang from the top of a Bramble thicket.
All the while thunder rumbled ever closer. It was hot and humid. There were
Frogs out in numbers in the long grass from tiny little yearlings to absolute whoppers.

Within the thicket we could hear a singing
Blackcap and along the dense part of the track the musty scent of Fox hung in the air. Amongst the trees we found a small number of Speckled Woods, but a binocular search of the Brambles, Mock Orange bush and the tops of the Elm trees revealed no White Letter Hairstreaks. Not overly surprising considering the weather. These little butterflies are suffering from the effects of Dutch Elm Disease as the Elm tree is the foodplant of their caterpillars. The Elms in the park are all showing signs of the disease and it might not be too long before the colony of butterflies is lost.

Abandoning our search for the
Hairstreaks we went to the ponds where either a Common Blue or Azure Damselfly successfully avoided the net. The top pond was covered in a morass of Duckweed. On this stage there were hundreds of the dancing 'Lily Flies' I have in my garden pond.

Walking back towards the park gates there were two Grey Squirrels chasing about in the top of a large tree and the surprise of two more butterflies. A Holly Blue whizzed past high up quickly followed by a slightly lower but no less speedy Red Admiral. A good end to a good afternoon.

In the end we had counted over a hundred butterflies of seven species...and not got wet!

Below are three pics of the sunset the other evening. The first two are as the camera saw them, the last one is slightly doctored to try to get rid of the glare as it was taken through a window. Not wildlife but still stunning examples of the natural beauty all around us if we take the time to look.

Where to next? Don't know yet but it'll be an adventure.

1 comment:

babooshka said...

As you have probably read had laptop issues this week. ou got the same sky then. Poor old Gary His hayfever went mad. Camera glare I have bannished, just won't allow it! Faubilous captures, it really was the most awesome sky we've had here in five years.