Tag Archives: butterflies

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Power Pack

Technology can be quite useful at times.

Silver Stamps and eBay

I passed my blood test, and as a reward they have given me a whole four weeks until the next test. This will save a lot of time, car parking and pain. Not that there is much pain really, but I like to go for as much sympathy as possible.

This morning I continued putting stamp ingots on eBay. For those of you who don’t know, these are models of stamps made in silver. I knew such things existed because I’d seen them, but until Tuesday I didn’t know what they were called. I do now.

 

Silver Marks

Silver Marks

Ironically for something called “The Empire Collection” the third mark, the one that looks like a cross and circle is an import mark, which means the ingots were made abroad.  The others are the maker, .925 to denote Sterling silver and, at the end, an “E” for 1979. You’ll have to take my word for that, it’s a peculiar font for that series of date letters.

My current homework is learning about American coins, as I put some on earlier this week and realised I didn’t even have a basic working knowledge of the subject. It’s by no means my only area of ignorance, but it is one that has a good book to remedy the deficiency.

Not sure what I’m listing tomorrow, but I’m sure there will be something to do.

I would write more, but my card reader is playing up and I can’t access more photos.

Meanwhile, Julia was down at the Mencap garden watching butterflies and watering in the polytunnel. She had Orange Tips, Peacocks, Small Whites and a Common Blue.

In the shop we had to content ourselves with one single, droning fly.

Julia cooked tonight so we ate in a more sophisticated manner than normal – seafood linguine and rhubarb crumble (with rhubarb fresh from the garden). It’s nice to have someone else doing the cooking.

Thinking of Summer

I’m looking forward to summer now. Autumn is all well and good, with plenty of interesting leaves and migrant birds and I like Spring, though it’s always a sad time as you know it won’t last.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Teasel at Rufford Abbey

Winter, to be fair, offers a few frost-rimed photo opportunities but little else. In the English midlands we don’t have much to offer in the way of scenery or snowfall.

Marigold with frost

Calendula at Wilford

So that leaves Summer. Summer is easy – plenty of flowers and plenty of insects, including butterflies. There’s a lack of birds because they mainly hide behind leaves, but you can’t have everything.

I was speaking to Eddiethebugman earlier today. You may remember his guinea pig shots from an earlier post. He takes a lot of photos of insects (as you may guess from the name) and employs a technique called focus stacking, which produces brilliant images of insects.

As I understand it you bracket the focus settings and use a computer to put together a very sharp image using the best bits from all the shots.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Angle Shades moth

It’s beyond my technical capabilities, but I’m a great admirer of anyone who can do it.

He was telling me that he was once criticised for using the technique, as it isn’t “proper photography”. It’s a bit like the list of words you shouldn’t use in poems – there’s always someone ready to tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. I even read a poetry competition judge recently saying that you shouldn’t write poems about butterflies.

Small Copper

Small Copper in the garden

Who wants to live in a world without butterfly poems?

The same goes for photographs. I’m always happy to see good close-ups of insects, no matter how they are produced. If someone wants to spend hours over producing one perfect image I’m prepared to admire both the photograph and the craftsmanship.

My photos, as you can see, are more of a point and shoot affair with a large helping of luck and hit and miss. I’ve added a few to liven up the post.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Comedy carrot

 

 

Five Favourite Photos

I’ve decided on a post to cover up my lack of recent photography. I will, of course, be dressing it up as a listing of my favourite photographs. It will also make a change of pace from the last post,

Common Blue

Male Common Blue

I was on the way to visit Men in Sheds when I stopped to take a picture of round bales. We have a Hockney post card showing a scene like this and I keep trying to reproduce it photographically. So far I haven’t managed, but this Common Blue flew past and after twenty minutes of stalking I had a couple of decent shots. That’s about as good as it gets – butterfly photography can be tricky.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Small Copper on castor oil plant

This was one Julia spotted in the front garden. It’s a small garden and relies on self-seeded red valerian to attract butterflies, though it has plenty of marigold and allysum as back up. We’ve had quite a variety this year, with the favourites being the Hummingbird Hawk Moths.

Though they are great things to see, they are very difficult to photograph, so they haven’t made the cut.

This was the opposite of the previous photograph – no stalking needed. All I did was get the camera out as I walked from the car to the door.

Goodbye, cruel world

A Puffin thinks about ending it all

I know it’s only contemplating flight, but it does seem forlorn as it looks down. The clown face adds to the general air of despair. This photograph was taken as a group of birds loafed about just below a viewing platform at Bempton Cliffs.

We also went to Flamborough Head that day, and spent an enjoyable time on the cliffs there too. With a mixture of poor health, work and creaking knee we’ve not been out and about much this year – which makes the good days all the more special.

Bee-eater at East Leake quarry

Bee-eater at East Leake

This is a poor photo, but we had an interesting trip out and saw, albeit distantly, some exotic birds. The quality of a photograph, for me, lies in the memories of the day it was taken on, as much as in obtaining a pin-sharp picture of an event. Even people with top quality equipment were struggling because the heat was making the air shimmer and at the distance we were working this was causing problems. With low quality optics and a dirty lens I never expect perfection…

They were very much on the edge of their range, despite global warming and the nests failed in the end, but it was a brave attempt.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This one always  cheers me up. The photo, that is. The subject of the photo always has a list of jobs for me.

This was taken as a new profile photo when Julia started the new job at the Mencap Garden. It’s a typical pose – outdoors, dressed for gardening and with that enigmatic smile. It’s a smile that shows how happy she is to have been married to me for all this time.

Well, I think that’s what it means.

Pictures of Peacocks

According to Laurie Graves, commenting on my last post, she likes pictures of Peacock butterflies as they don’t see them in Maine. I don’t feel too sorry for her though, she does have Hummingbirds in summer.

Anyway, as I have plenty of photographs of Peacocks I thought it might be in order to put a few up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Peacock Butterfly on Buddleia

The featured image is a Peacock on crocuses, taken in February a few years ago. It’s the earliest butterfly I’ve ever photographed, though they can, according to reports, be seen on every day of the year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Peacock at Mencap gardens

I’ve always liked Peacocks. My first memory of butterflies dates from around 1960-61 but I only  recall them as either white or reddish brown. We were living outside York at that time, and went on to Blackburn, Clitheroe and Lincolnshire before noticing them again in 1967. At that point we moved to a house near Peterborough. It had a sheltered paved area with a buddleia and one day in our first summer there I noticed that the bush was hosting a Peacock convention. It’s tempting to say it was covered with them, but this would be an exaggeration. However, there were more butterflies in one spot than I remember seeing before or since.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshell at the Ecocentre

And not just butterflies, but big, bright, velvety butterflies.

From that day on, I was confirmed as a butterfly enthusiast.

The Morning so Far

It is grey, I can see parents taking children to school, but at least it isn’t raining.

I had a strange dream last night, involving stone-built houses, planning permission and failure. The first two came, I think, because I had fallen asleep in front of the TV during an episode of Grand Designs.  The feeling of failure, on the other hand, seems to have been creeping more and more into my thoughts recently.

It’s strange how negative thoughts are the ones that seem to persist. Yesterday I thought about plans for earning a living, new sweets for Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts and, by association, growing liquorice.  I then thought of other exotic crops, how James Wong has always disappointed me and gave serious thought to a seed bombing campaign.

I have no personal animosity towards James Wong, in case you are wondering, it’s just that when I’ve tried to grow his alternative crops they have never seemed worth the trouble.

I bought, for instance, two kiwi berry vines when we started Quercus Community. They are hardy, prolific and vigorous to the point of being invasive. Not mine. Mine are like a couple of stroppy teenagers, sulking and refusing to cooperate. When we did get fruit, which was not often, we didn’t get much and my dreams of selling bags of unusual fruit to boost our funds all came to nothing.

I keep telling myself that seed bombing is not the way forwards for my dream to make Nottingham the Butterfly Capital of the world, as it will invariably involve a lot of buddleia and make the locality look like a bomb site. Somehow I always come back to the idea though…

So there you are – my morning has consisted of blogging about yesterday.

 

Fortunately it is only ten o’clock so I still have time to pull things round. Has it really taken an hour to write this?

I must learn to type faster.