The Safari wasn't able to get out until mid-afternoon due to family matters today. Where to go, what to do? We'd been watching the weather and decided that although it was quite breezy it was a bit warmer than the forecasts had suggested so we thought it best to nip to Patch 1 for an hour or so and do some Big Butterfly Counts. We could do three stints of 15 minutes each in the three different areas/habitats on site and then have a few minutes dedicated to getting close up and personal with any White Letter Hairstreaks that might be about.
Armed with our notebook camera and big tube of insect repellent in case of Cleggs we wandered the couple of hundred yards round the corner.
The first butterflies we saw as we emerged through the scratty wood were two Commas having a bit of a barney in a shaft of sunlight. Further along it seemed that every Creeping Thistle flower had a Soldier Beetle in attendance.
The butterflies didn't disappoint although we didn't see any hairstreaks in our 15 minutes here. Oodles of Meadow Browns, Large and Small Skippers and the Brown Hawker again, which refused to settle for a pic again.
The next area we counted was along the old hedge and the margin of the grassland. The warm corner was butterfly city, there were loads on the wing perhaps almost what it was like in the 'old days'. Meadow Browns, Skippers and three Gatekeepers which must be the most aggressive butterflies of the lot, they won't tolerate any others of any species in their favoured basking area.
Our third area wasn't as productive and we didn't find the hoped for Small Copper or Common Blues although there were more Gatekeepers.
The wander back through the middle of the field disturbed countless grasshoppers.
Back at the main butterfly zone we saw that the Soldier Beetles had vanished but a different darker shape on a thistle head alerted us to the only White Letter Hairstreak of the afternoon.
This can't be on of the same ones as last weekend as we'd have expected the tails to have been knocked off by now.
The camera battery started to die and the Cleggs were getting bolder we called it a day.
Thankfully there was enough juice in the battery for a few more shots of an unusual bird that flew over our head. It seemed to have a lot of white on the tail or was it the way it just caught the light as it flew over us but fortunately it landed on a neighbour's roof.
As soon as we looked at the pics on the camera we saw the blue ring of a captive bird. Anyone out there suggest an identity - any ringers come across something similar on their travels around the world? Some kind of female Canary?
Where to next? With a bit of luck we should be out tomorrow again and we have a cunning plan.
In the meantime let us know who's chasing the butterflies in your outback.