Tag Archives: butterflies

Bloodbath!

Last week I realised I was following over 1,800 people. I had culled a lot of the people I followed a couple of years ago when I realised that I didn’t actively follow most of them, and that many of them hadn’t posted for months. I started following a lot of them because we had shared interests, or because they followed me, and it soon got out of control.

After the cull I still fell into the trap of following people who followed me and it started building up again.

A couple of days ago I started thinking about WP and my numbers. I don’t need to follow 1,800 people when I actually struggle to keep up with reading more that a couple of dozen blogs, and even then my reading is somewhat erratic.

After three days of boring effort I am now following 285 people and that’s only because I haven’t finished yet. I’m hoping to get down to around 100. Some of them make it easy for me by having words like “marketing” in their titles, Others haven’t posted for months, or even a year. A few haven’t posted for two years. It’s very sad to see them pass, and I haven’t the heart to delete the ones I used to enjoy.

As an aside here, if someone dies, what do you do with their emails and email address. I keep them, because it’s not like you’ve lost them if you keep the emails alive, and it seems discourteous just to press a button and consign them to cyberspace. Is that morbid, ghoulish or unbalanced? Or just plain stupid? I’m not sure. What do you do?

In a similar vein who do you follow? And how many people follow you? I have 2,080 followers, but on a good day I have fifty to sixty people visiting the site. If a post gets 20 likes it’s a red letter day. I’m pretty sure that 2,000 of those followers aren’t pulling their weight. Let’s face it, most of them have probably left WP or grown bored of my ranting over the years, or never really liked me in the first place – they just wanted me to follow them. I shouldn’t be surprised about this, after all, it’s what I do to other people.

The Red Admiral in the featured image was basking in sun on some ivy as Julia walked to the laundrette today. I saw a Small Copper in our front garden yesterday but it flew off before I could get my camera out. Wife 1 Me 0.

Small Copper on castor oil plant

This is one from a couple of years ago, when I was younger and quicker. It appeared in the recent post Sunlit Uplands and I took it a year or two before that.

Taking a Breath

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare

W. H. Davies

We took time out on Wednesday to buy sandwiches from the supermarket and take a drive into the countryside. It wasn’t as comfortable as it could have been because I had a feeling that I should have planned better and made our own sandwiches. In my defence we didn’t know what time Julia’s meeting would end and everything was a bit chaotic.

Shopping at the supermarket still doesn’t feel comfortable, paying the cost of ready made sandwiches seems extravagant after months of economy, and aimlessly driving in the countryside also seems wrong.

On the other hand, sitting at home is beginning to wear a bit thin too.

We eventually found a verge to park on and ate sandwiches whilst watching the local wildlife – which was butterflies. The flies were too small to see from the car, the grasshoppers were hidden and though we heard the call of pheasants and saw a few wood pigeons there didn’t seem to be much bird life about either.

By the time I got out of the car, brushing crumbs from my newly decorated shirt, the Peacock and the White butterflies had all gone and the promising reddish brown ones all turned out top be Gatekeepers, which are common, and not much more interesting than the Peacocks and Whites.

I clearly need to brush up on my butterfly stalking technique,and my grasshopper hunting methods as I managed to see them only as they leapt to escape my feet. I didn’t get a single grasshopper shot, just  a few flies as a relief from Gatekeepers.

Even my attempts at photographing sloes were thwarted by a sparse selection and poor lighting. It’s bad when you can’t even get a shot of something that just hangs there without moving…

My efforts are a far cry from the fine efforts made by Beating the Bounds, a blog I haven’t read for a while. On seeing this post, I was glad I had chosen to return.

As you can tell from the captions, I have returned to my original style of uninformative caption. I must do better, but, to be honest, I’ve made it through the first 62 years without trying too hard, so why change now?

They say that hard work never killed anybody, but that’s what I thought about Covid 19 to start with. It seems silly to take a chance.

The final shot is the Grasshopper that emerged from the garden when we returned home on Friday– displaying itself on the tarmac. This is not the setting you most associate with an insect that has the word “grass” in its name.

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Grasshopper on tarmac – probably a Common Field Grasshopper

Sunlit Uplands

 

 

As my post count moves closer and closer to 2,000 I find my main feeling is not one of achievement, but one of wanting a rest. This is accompanied by a realisation that reaching 2,000 posts is just reaching a number, rather than finding enlightenment or suddenly breaching a barrier and breaking through into the sunlit uplands of quality blogging. Standards have in fact fallen so far that I am typing this without my glasses. It’s not as lax as blogging in my pyjamas, but I’d be doomed if I didn’t have a spell-checker.

Even with glasses my typing wouldn’t win any prizes, as I often see when reading the gobbledygook that passes as previous posts. I’m often amazed that despite my best efforts at composition and proof-reading there are still pockets of gibberish lurking to embarrass me on re-reading. I hate that.

I got two pointless answers on the final question of Pointless last night. For those of you who don’t watch the programme, this is pretty good, but does, in truth, not compare with a Nobel Prize or an Oscar.

Small Copper on castor oil plant

My answers were Duke of Burgundy and Adonis Blue. I would have scored the triple with Cryptic Wood White but I couldn’t remember the word “Cryptic” so settled for Black-Veined White, which wasn’t pointless. When I checked it for the link it would appear to be extinct in the UK, so that explains it. To be honest, I’m feeling more deflated at missing the triple than I am elated at nailing two of them, even though was two more than the real finalists. It’s a sign of ageing that I am finding it harder to access my full vocabulary. If I hate finding gibberish in past posts, I really hate not being able to find the right words.

My photos are of commoner butterflies, which are the best I can do.

Of course, another sign of ageing is attaching importance to answering questions on TV quiz shows. That’s one of the milder signs of encroaching old age.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

The butterfly photos are from  A Painted Lady Comes to Call, which indicates that in August 2017 we had crumble for tea. We had crumble for tea tonight – apple and rhubarb with ice cream. Some things don’t change much. Or, to look at it another way, some things are so good they can’t be improved.

Talking of age, I just deleted the entire post. This is the second time I’ve done this recently. Fortunately I managed to get it back without too much trouble, but it’s a worry that I keep doing it. I really must get a grip.

 

Good Intentions

Prologue

I wrote this post about twenty hours ago, apart from this paragraph. The penultimate sentence was true. I did serve tea. The final sentence did not come true. It should have read “Then I am going to watch comedy programmes and fall asleep in front of the fire, finally waking after midnight and going to bed without posting.” Now that you know that I can pass you over to last night’s second post, secure in the knowledge that it should now make sense.

The header picture is one of my favourite photos, despite its imperfections – you don’t often see a butterfly soon enough to picture it on a crocus. I took it four or five years ago but still like to see it. The other two were things I was working on today.

I walked through to the kitchen half an hour ago with the intention of cooking tea, writing a quick blog post and starting to firm up my presentation. It’s only three weeks away and it’s looking rather under-prepared. I say “under-prepared” but I might actually mean “not started”.

In the old days I used to give talks on the Sealed Knot and the English Civil War. I’d stick a uniform on, grab a box of equipment and set off, often with an assistant, stand in front of an audience and start. No preparation, no heart-searching and, most importantly, no Power Point. I’ve never even used an overhead projector for presentations.

I am absolutely dreading the forthcoming presentation – everybody uses Power Point these days and the audience will be expecting it. Even if I prepare the slides properly I still have the problem of standing, talking and pressing a button at the same time. That’s three things! I’m not sure I’m up to it.

I don’t have an assistant for this talk, so I can’t even tell the audience, “And now I’ll pass you over to Julia.” She used to hate that.

Meanwhile, back at the blog…

I sat down, started looking at comments and found myself whisked away to a world of poetry, parties, hummingbirds, health, ponies, gardens and various amusing characters. I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting my WP reading dreadfully. Sorry about that.

The result of that I left the potato wedges in too long before adding the veggie burgers and not only did I write no blog, but I am now going to have overly crispy potato wedges.

It will be a busy day tomorrow, in place of our usual day off. Julia has a hair appointment in the morning and a meeting in the late afternoon/early evening. We have several collections booked in tomorrow – everyone seems to be selling at the moment – and I’ve been asked to go in as we are going to need to be at full strength.

Banknotes of Sudan

Banknotes of Sudan

After a slow start to the year its good to see that things are finally moving, and I’m glad that the request for the extra day came. when it did – I was going to be lonely tomorrow without Julia. I now have a full day planned, extra pay and somewhere warm to sit without increasing my domestic fuel bill.

I’ve even, eventually, managed to complete the post.

Now I’m going to serve tea.

Then I will add tags and photos.

Medallion - Her Majesty at 90

Medallion – Her Majesty at 90. Complete with gold-plating, spot colour and a Swarovski Crystal, because nothing says “quality tribute” like a garish, blinged up medallion with a crystal in it.

Painted Ladies and Flying Time

There were three Painted Ladies in the front garden when I got home. The combination of red valerian and warm flagstones seems to attract them.

The quality of the photographs is, as ever, dubious. Just as the garden seems to be good for Painted Ladies this year, it seems to be bad for photography at the end of the afternoon.

 

The rest of the evening was a bit of an anti-climax after that. I had some sorting and planning to do, and seemed to have worked harder in the evening than I did during the day. The Westminster School Attendance Medals I put on eBay yesterday sold within hours. P8190077.JPG

As I think I said yesterday, this always makes me wonder if they were too cheap. However, I think it’s generally that you are showing your stock to so many people that there are always keen buyers for certain things out there.

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I’m adopting one of the medals as my new motto.

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Delay Not: Time Flies.

How true.

A Packed Day

I am writing this on a computer that has, according to the date of the last file I saved, not run since 2012. It has been switched off so long that we had to reset the clock before Google would allow us access. And, to even get to that point, we had to find the yellow cable that connects it to the router, as it has no wireless capability.

It runs on Vista and Microsoft Word 2010 and is a pleasure to use after so many weeks on the netbook.

The netbook was a mixed blessing, but it kept me going and I have been very grateful for it, despite my more than occasional criticism of its lack of speed.

All I need to do is wipe away six year’s supply of dust and spider webs, and it will be almost as good as new.

I say “almost” because there is the question of the On/Off switch.

There isn’t one. It broke and for the last six months of its active life I had to start the computer by hotwiring it, or, for those of you unaccustomed to the vernacular of the street (well, the 1970s street) touching two bare wires together.

It works, and more important, it cost nothing to do. These are two factors that are close to my heart.

That’s probably the biggest news of the day, though my three-centre medical excursion seemed big until we got the computer running.

It started with a visit to the doctor at 8.00 to discuss the pain in my little finger. At this point I’d like to say, because I have difficulty getting this point over to the medical profession, that although I don’t like to complain it is very difficult having an arthritic little finger. It doesn’t seem like much but it can be remarkably painful and it makes everyday life (like tucking my shirt in, packing parcels or washing up) painful and difficult, though the washing up water is very soothing.

So far it’s taken me a week to get the X-ray appointment, ten days to get the results and ten days to get this appointment (that could have been a week, but it would have meant missing work, and I don’t want that).

So are they going to give me anti-inflammatories, you ask, or an injection, or even a new wonder drug?

No.

The X-ray, I’m told is not typical of osteo-artritis so they need to find out exactly what is happening. Two arthritic fingers, two different types of arthritis. What are the chances of that? I can’t win a lottery, but when it comes to medical curiosities I lead the field. Having said that, I just looked up the different sorts of arthritis and am feeling slightly less blase about it now.

They sent me for blood tests. Eight blood tests. That’s nearly an armful. (I put that bit in for you Derrick).

After the blood tests I went for my 9.30 chest X-ray appointment.

In a week or so the results will be in.

At that point, you ask, will they give me anti-inflammatories, or an injection, or even a new wonder drug?

No.

At that point they are going to get me an appointment with a specialist.

If this carries on much longer I may have to resort to drastic measures.

We went for a drive in Derbyshire after the excitement of the morning and ended up buying raw milk from a farm. I’ve been meaning to get some for a while to see if it has any effect on my health.

When we got home we found a Painted Lady on the front garden, which gives me an opportunity to re-use the pictures I took earlier in the year.

We had more poppies too.

 

WordPress is a lot easier on a proper computer.

And Again!

Sorry about last night. I didn’t have a lot of time between returning home from seeing my Dad and setting off to take Number Two Son to work. In between the two events I ate tea, shouted at TV, lost my sense of humour and realised that I only had fifteen minutes to write a post. I do have a little time after getting back from dropping him off, but it can be a bit touch and go. I will try not to let it happen again.

Unfortunately, the gardens have been attacked again. All the plants that escaped destruction last time have been tipped over, crushing seedlings and losing seeds, including seeds bought by individual members of the group. A lemon tree, which has been growing in a pot for several years has been smashed to pieces, all the drawers searched, screws, nails and tools thrown around and Feathers McGraw has been dismantled again. They also damaged the plastic in the door this time.

The group members are upset, perplexed and annoyed. The police are doing their best. Julia has been preparing a press release, hoping to get some support and possibly donations, but she’s been told not to by her boss, and even banned from putting anything about the attacks on their private Facebook group.

This has put the start of the growing season back by a couple of months. Thank goodness we hadn’t moved the new cacti and succulents down to the gardens.

On the plus side, they sighted Brimstones, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Hummingbird Hawkmoths.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

We’ve entered the sighting on the Butterfly Conservation sightings page – there are 84 for the UK this year, and three in the area (Burton, Derby and Ripley), or 85 and four, after ours.

Sorry it’s a poor photo, but it’s the best I have, and I prefer to use my own when I can.

The Butterfly Safari

We’re now travelling back in time. It’s back to Monday morning this time, to a time before the Sheringham Fish and Chips. I put the the postcode for Strumpshaw Fen into the sat-nav and was once again mesmerised by its capacity for random navigation and time travel.

It started off by leading me in what I thought was the wrong direction and then took a turn for the worse as we took in a selection of narrow roads with grass growing down the centre. It was like taking a trip into a time of more relaxed transport and I’m sure I saw a Hay Wain in the distance.

The main butterfly at the reserve is the Swallowtail. There were, according to reports, several still to be seen on the reserve. We also had hopes of seeing White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries.

From the lack of Swallowtail picture in the header you may be able to deduce that things did not exactly go to plan. You may also search in vain…well, you’ll find out in good time. For now I will keep the tension building.

The first thing we saw as we crossed the railway line to the reserve was a bat, which fluttered down into a bush. They have Pipistrelles in the roof of one of their buildings, though they don’t usually fly in daylight. It might, we agreed, be suffering from the heat.

Pipistrelle Bat, Strumpshaw

Pipistrelle Bat, Strumpshaw

We took a walk through the woods, looked at the wire contraptions that used to shelter orchids, saw a few surviving orchids, pointed a camera at several butterflies and muttered bad words at my lack of success in actually photographing them. Ditto for dragonflies.

We did see a Marsh Harrier, but, to be fair, they are hard to miss. The Canadian lady who was in the hide at the time was ecstatic at seeing one, and the conversation moved on to her difficulties in seeing Polar Bears in Northern Canada. It was nice to think of a cold place while burning up in the middle of a Norfolk reed bed.

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Marsh Harrier over Strumpshaw Fen

Whilst listening to tales of the frozen north I noticed that a Comma had settled next to the path. As soon as I pointed the camera at it, it flew away. It’s a common butterfly and I have lots of shots of it, but it was still vexing to miss yet another shot.

I also missed a White Admiral – twice. We had good views of them, but they didn’t settle long enough for a photograph.

I was able to get some damselflies, some blurred dragonflies and, after returning to my primeval origins, hunt down a darter.

This is a Ruddy Darter. Probably.

These are Damselflies – possibly a Common Blue and a Blue-tailed.

Finally, as we sat under an ivy-covered tree, drinking tea and (in my case) restocking my calories with a big chunk of flapjack, I noticed a butterfly. It was the tomato soup red colour of a Comma, which was a poor second prize for a day of butterfly spotting in Norfolk.

However, as I zoomed in I noticed it was a completely different shape to a Comma.

And that was how we managed to take a photograph of a Silver-washed Fritillary.

That evening, after chips, we took a ride out into the marshes, where I enjoyed myself taking blurred photos of larks and pipits, missing a shot of a female Marsh Harrier and, eventually, getting some shots of sitting people and moored boats. They move slowly so I can manage them.

I’ll post them later as I have to go out now.

 

Butterflies, Curries and Clerihews

We went to Derbyshire today. Despite  being a Bank Holiday it wasn’t crowded and we managed to buy Julia the shoes she needed for the Maltese trip. We also bought some books and ice-cream.

We saw half a dozen Orange Tips and a pair of Brimstones. It really is looking like a good year for both species – I don’t remember seeing as many as this before.

On our return home we scurried round, changed and went for a birthday curry with my fellow shop workers and a few customers. It was a good night, and unlike last time, I was on time (just!), parked across the road and didn’t get rained on.

Yes, for those of you who may be wondering, I am now 60. That’s the “three score years” done with – just the next ten to worry about now.

I’m now going to write some poetry as part of my 200 poems in a fortnight challenge. Don’t worry, I won’t be subjecting you to my efforts, unless I write more limericks or clerihews. I seem to remember I was supposed to be writing more clerihews.

Sunshine at Last

I decided to go for a guilt-free Sunday.

There are two ways to do this. One revolves round working myself to a frazzle so I don’t feel guilty about Julia working while I’m slacking at home.

The second involves heavy-duty skiving allied to a complete lack of conscience.

It wasn’t a hard decision, though I didn’t completely shake the guilt.

As a result I ended up buying fish for tea. She likes fish. I don’t. But I do like idleness, so it’s a sacrifice I’m prepared to make.

You never know, it may actually improve my brain-power, though Julia just went on record suggesting that it will take more than a piece of fish to show any significant  improvement. She can be very cutting at times.

I will also let her watch The Woman in White without complaining. I think Collins is a great writer, and handles his material well. I just feel that the books show their age when it comes to matters like plot and length. Having read The Moonstone a while ago I’m in no hurry to repeat the experience.

I took a few shots whilst waiting for her to emerge from work, and a few more when I took her to the Mencap Garden. She saw a Common Blue, an Orange Tip and several whites. I saw a Brimstone and several whites. It’s a good year for butterflies, even if they weren’t cooperating for photographs.

I bought a power pack last year when I was in and out of hospital as I always seemed to be kept in when my phone battery was low. Of course, once I bought it, I never needed it. I’ve finally used it and can report that it recharged my Kindle to nearly 100% quite quickly, and my phone to 50% in about an hour. At that point I gave up and unplugged it. It’s still worth having, even if it was a bit slow.

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Power Pack

Technology can be quite useful at times.