Tag Archives: Painted Lady

A Painted Lady Comes to Call

I’ve had a few problems with WordPress today, including the complete loss of a post. This was annoying as I’d spent a significant amount of time looking for links and photos.

Julia picked plums in the early afternoon and saw a Painted Lady in the garden – another first for the garden. Added to the Small Copper and Hummingbird Hawk Moth we saw earlier in the year it’s all coming together nicely.


When we left home to do some errands this afternoon we spent a few minutes watching the front garden and were rewarded by two small brown butterflies hustling past in the swirling wind, then a larger one, which proved to be a Painted Lady. It took some photographing, as it was quite skittish and there was a stiffish breeze once it left cover.

We’re not doing too badly for butterflies in the garden, partly due to looking a bit more than usual and partly due to a good showing of Red Valerian. We’ve also had Mint Moths on the marigolds, which is a first, as I’ve always seen them on mint or oregano before.

As for the plums, Julia has picked over 200. As usual, it’s a case of picking them when ripe and then using them quickly before they start to go over. We’ve given some to Angela Across the Road, who gave us figs and tomatoes in return. We’ve also given some to the Young Couple Next Door, because they give us cake.

I’m going to make sure we feed the tree properly next year, and ensure the pruning is done properly. I’ve been a bit slapdash with pruning recently and it’s turning into a biennial bearer. This is my fault, not the tree’s. If the feeding works it should fruit moderately next year, which will take some of the vigour out of it for the year after. If not, it looks like I’ll have to remove fruit buds two years from now.

I think this all started about six years ago when we had a bad spring that killed all the blossom. The next year was a bumper year due to all the stored energy and the one after that we didn’t harvest any fruit at all. I should have got on top of it when we had the first bumper year, instead I added neglect to the problem by letting the pruning slip by.

We are having Plum and Apple Crumble for tea.

All in all this has been a good day.

The Care Farm Experience

 

It’s been a lazy day today. I’ve tried to be enthusiastic but I didn’t get back from Leeds until 1am this morning and when I tried to go to sleep all I could see was motorway traffic on the back of my eyelids. It was around 3am before I got to sleep, then I woke up at 5…

It wasn’t the best of starts.

At least I know I have done my duty as a father (the one that involves passing cash across and acting as a taxi driver, rather than the bit where you impart moral education and the Laws of Rugby).To make things worse I didn’t write a list of jobs to do, which always leads to wasted time.

It was a strange day for butterflies. We had the usual suspects (whites and small tortoiseshells) but managed a Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Comma. We haven’t seen a Comma or Red Admiral for months.

Julia has been industrious, trying out crafts for Flintham Ploughing Match. She has decided, after a somewhat fraught session, that straw weaving won’t make the cut – it just takes too much time and concentration. We will just take some corn dollies and information sheets.

We have had to revert to using paper art straws because modern wheat straw just isn’t long enough. In 1815 the Brigade of Guards concealed themselves in a field of wheat before leaping out to rout the advancing French. If they’d tried that in 2015 it would not have been so much of a surprise.

 

I’ve finished the McDonald’s Breakfast post on Pies and Prejudice, got the recipes together for the scone post I’m planning and sorted the cutters ready for making the saltdough poppies (part of the Big Autumn Project).

Finally we had home made blackberry jam and, after washing the outside of the jars (which seemed to have got very sticky in the filling process), divided last week’s jam between the group. It was a microwavable recipe – very quick and easy. It produces a slightly soft jam that tastes very fruity.

We spread it on some crackers left over from butter making. Everyone seemed to like it, including a few late summer wasps that were cruising around up to no good.

Currently we are waiting for the taxi. It’s twenty five minutes late already and we’ve been told it will be at least another 20 minutes. The original car, it seems, has broken down and they have been having trouble with the phones, because they always lose reception out here (though strangely enough, I don’t.)

They have several breakdowns every year and never seem to have phones that work.

I detect a slightly unlikely excuse.

I also detect the sort of service you get when the council puts a service out to the lowest bidder.

 

 

A mystery solved!

Gemma and I were looking at pictures of the peacock this morning when a lady called and asked who was in charge. I pointed to Gemma because I try not to admit to things like that. It seems that a local painting group would like to pop in tomorrow to paint the Ecocentre and surrounding area.

She was surprised to see the pictures. It seems the bird roosts in one of her trees and belongs to her neighbour, who bought it at auction some months ago. They wondered what it did with itself during the day so we were able to solve all our mysteries in one go.

They were happy to learn that the peacock walks with the guinea fowl as they think it may be lonely from the way it keeps approaching other birds. At last, with the guineas, it seems to have met some suitable companions. I use the word in terms of eating and browsing habits. In moral terms I feel that guinea fowl, with their disregard for private property and road safety, are probably very unsuitable. In literary terms it’s a bit like Oliver Twist falling in with Fagin’s gang of street urchins.

 

As we spoke, a Painted Lady fluttered round the buddleia and the gentle whirring of the incubator’s humidifier could be heard working in the background.

As yet there is no sign of hatching. Only five hours to go, and if there is no sign of hatching by then my name will be mud.

 

 

Peacocks, birds and Painted Ladies

I could have added Red Admirals to the title, to make it a tale of Communist Naval Commanders dressing up to attract women of a certain sort. Bit I didn’t, so it’s just about butterflies. And a bit about birds.

A week, they say, is a long time in politics. Five minutes, as I was to discover this morning, is a long time in butterfly counting.

It was a glorious day this morning and I would have taken some photographs but I got caught up with something else, we had chickens to look after, then a visitor called and we didn’t get on with the count until lunch.

As I stepped out onto the decking I knew we had a problem. It was cool, overcast, and the numerous butterflies I’d seen in the morning had all gone. I suppose the totals were more typical of the actual activity of butterflies, as we tend to count on good days, when there are plenty of butterflies about, thus manipulating the figures by accident.

Count 1

12.30 – 12.45 Monday 1st August.

Temperature: 19 degrees C

Wind: 6 kph from the SSE

Red Admiral – 1

Peacock – 2

Small White – 2

No sooner had we finished than the sun started to break through, the temperature rose noticeably and, though the wind remained gusty, the butterflies emerged.

It was like one of the those Old Testament moments in a black and white film. There was no pointing finger and no portentous music, but there was a definite change in the sky and things started to happen.

Count 2

12.45 – 01.00 Monday 1st August.

Temperature: 21 degrees C (may have been more at one point, but that’s what it was by the time I got back to the weather station display.

Wind: 3 – 9 kph from the SSE (that’s a guess, but it was both weaker and stronger than during the original count).

Red Admiral – 3

Peacock – 6

Small White – 2

Large White – 5

Gatekeeper – 1

Small Tortoiseshell – 1

Painted Lady – 1

That’s quite a difference, in numbers and variety. If it had been a more gradual change I’d have missed it by going inside for dinner before the activity started.

Birds have been gradually coming back with goldfinches and blue tits on the feeders and pied wagtails on the grass. There are wrens and Green Woodpeckers in the trees. I have a picture of an immature bird that I thought was a dunnock, then a robin, then…

The immature ones can be tricky.

I’m going to take a chance and say it’s a dunnock.

An embarrassment of riches

Despite what I said yesterday I sometimes have far too much to cover in a single post. Today is one of those days.

We arrived early at the farm to set up for the session and I skived off for a moment to look at the buddleia. I’m glad I did, because I spotted my first Painted Lady of the year and got some great shots. Julia saw one a couple of months ago but only managed a blurred shot before it got away. Last year I saw two but didn’t have my camera with me either time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Painted Lady

At that point the kids started to arrive. First of all they made cheese straws then spent the afternoon making a variety of things from plastic milk containers. I say variety – elephants, baskets and scoops.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cheesy biscuity goodness

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Elephant

 

Meanwhile I had to make plastic bottle wasp traps as several of the visitors weren’t keen on wasps. I’m not sure I achieved much but it showed willing, and because it was only wasps none of the veggies complained. Would have been different if I’d built a kitten trap…

The scoops, which I had thought were a bit boring,  were surprisingly popular, thanks to Julia making a sandpit on the new patio/BBQ area.  Just goes to show what I know.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sandpit and Scoop. Kids have such strange name these days.

Finally it was time for a meeting…