Tag Archives: Red Admiral

Gotcha!

Finally, after days of trying, I got some half-decent butterfly shots. The newly hatched Red Admiral finally held still for me, though the windy conditions were a bit of a challenge. The Red Valerian does tend to move a bit in the wind.

Then the Small Tortoiseshell – the first of the year in the front garden – stopped by. No Painted Ladies today, but I’m happy with the others.

More later. I just wanted to get these posted.

A Day of Luck and Spiders

I dropped Julia off at work this morning and, as the day was briefly sunny, came back the long way round. This proved to be a good decision as it enabled me too avoid a terrible tailback and look smug. The two things were not unconnected.

The weather is forecast to be significantly less good for the rest of the day. Hopefully my luck will continue to be good.

I knocked out 350 words about volunteering on my return home, as it’s something I’ve been thinking about and there had been an item on the radio this morning. Unfortunately, despite writing and rewriting (the likely word count was probably at least double the 350 that resulted) I still wasn’t happy with them.

It took so long I was nearly late for my blood test.

Fortunately they were running late so I had time to make an appointment for the flu vaccination clinic. Between 8.00 and 9.00 on a Saturday morning is not the optimal time because it’s our relaxed breakfast morning, with Julia buying fruit from the market and starting work at 11.30. However, I want the jab so I accepted the time.

The luck was clearly starting to leak out of the day.

It took three shots to find a vein today, but it doesn’t really hurt and we had a good laugh about it. Well what else are you going to do, complain to a woman armed with a needle?

I was definitely feeling less lucky, and slightly more leaky by that time when she said:

“Would you like a flu vaccination while you’re here?”

Save a trip to the surgery and have time for a leisurely breakfast – yes I would.

I had to have a different nurse for that. It seems that when you are on Warfarin you need a specially qualified nurse to give you an injection.

You can, it seems, prod me with needles as much as you like, open veins at will and extract blood by the bucketful – that’s OK. But load up with flu vaccine and stick it in a muscle and you need special training.

I had special training in hospital to inject myself with anticoagulants. That took five minutes.

The NHS is a wondrous place.

At that point I had to admit that my luck was improving, as I was vaccinated and had saved time.

After that I called at the parcel office. An irritating family got there just before me and clogged the system up a bit, with two noisy daughters guarding the door while the scrawny father and amply proportioned matriarch blocked the enquiry window. They seemed more than normally concerned by a note they had been sent, telling them pick a parcel up from the office. As they were already in possession of an armful of packages I don’t know why one more was significant.

It was, she thought, a scam facilitated by the theft of her phone on holiday. I don’t  know if it was stolen or not, if she always speaks so much drivel it had probably thrown itself off a cliff.

I’m not sure what sort of scam involves sending the victim a parcel. Possibly one where you post a parcel full of burglars, but I don’t think that’s worked since the Fall of Troy.

Back home I noted a Small White fluttering round the front garden, then a Red Admiral, then a second Red Admiral. By the time I had the camera in action I noticed a massive spider sitting in a web, waiting…

In the end I took pictures of the spider, as it was the most unusual thing. The White flew off, and as I focused on the first Red Admiral they both became skittish and refused to settle.

In the end I think it’s just a female Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus), and not at all rare. It is, in spider terms, quite big, and I will sleep easier tonight knowing I have something that size guarding my garden.

As I sat down to write this they came back so I went out again.

They flew off as I stalked the first one.

If I spot them again I’m taking a rolled up newspaper and a bottle of glue. That should sort out the skittishness.

And finally – they came back!

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Red Admiral – at last!

No Red Admirals were harmed in the taking of these pictures. Honestly – no glue needed!

The Wasteland

No, not the poem, just a judgement on the remains of our old Butterfly Garden. We had a look while we were visiting the farm on Friday to visit Men in Sheds.

There is nobody in the centre or kitchen anymore, as things didn’t work out. This is a shame as they did a lot of work and it has presumably cost them a lot of money. It may still be costing them money if they signed a lease.

Sadly, without our (free) help, the farm appears unable to maintain the place.

Standing and looking at the place we spent five years working you half expect a tumbleweed to roll past, or a loose door to creak in the wind.

The willow work is out of control, the buddleias are going mad and the log xylophone has been torn out.

In other beds the shasta daisies, the borage and the oregano have all been ripped out.

As a result we didn’t see many as many pollinators as we should have been and there were no brown butterflies, which used to love the oregano.

 

It’s seven months since we had to close down (or were evicted, to be more accurate) and the negative feelings are gradually fading as we move other things.

It’s also time to re-evaluate the title and content of the blog, as it’s clearly no longer the story of a Nottinghamshire Care Farm. I’ve been thinking of this for a while, and putting it off as it seems so final.

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.

 

 

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.

Butterfly Count (2)

From 1.10 to 1.25 forgot to make a note of the time for the last one. It was slightly windier, about 8kph (5 mph) from the south. Temperature had climbed to 23 from 20, though the sky was slightly overcast. I really must remember to be more scientific.

Three Red Admirals.

Three Large White.

Five Small White.

Four Small Tortoiseshell.

Three Peacocks.

No Comma this time, though Vicki did catch a Green Veined White and a tatty Meadow Brown in the polytunnel (both released back into the open air unharmed). I didn’t actually see them whilst watching so better luck next time.

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Green-veined White

It was harder to take photos this time as they stayed deeper in the shrubs to keep out of the wind, because the wind was shaking the ones that perched where I could actually get a shot and because I was using Camera 2 (the batteries ran out in the new one). Camera 2 is OK, but having leant it to the group to take pictures of the bantams this morning I started off in Magic Scene mode with Beauty Setting. It’s not the most responsive setting for butterfly photography.

We have a lot of whites in the polytunnels, and they are quite good for capturing other species for us. We had a lot of Speckled Woods and Silver Y moths in there last year. We’ve also had Small Copper, Hummingbird Hawk Moth and Small Skipper in the tunnels. In fact the only Small Skipper we’ve recorded here was in the small tunnel.

This morning we disturbed a large moth with markings like a butterfly when we walked in to the office. It paused for a moment after fluttering, folded itself into a moth and then took off and disappeared before I could get the camera. A search of the internet suggests an Orange Underwing (but it’s the wrong time of year) or a Garden Tiger (but it was much plainer, and brown, when it folded its wings). It’s very frustrating.

However, I did see a Mint Moth, after saying I couldn’t find one at the moment. That’s where Camera 2 came into its own. It seems to focus better at smaller distances. The moth started on mint but I took the picture while it was on marjoram. I’m glad to see it, but a bit worried as by this time of year  can sometimes see six or eight of them at a time.

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Mint Moth on marjoram

 

 

 

Butterfly Count

Just been doing a butterfly count.

Six Red Admirals, the most we’ve ever counted here at one time. Four on the blue buddleia and two on the red one.

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Red Admiral

Five Large Whites. Could probably have made it more if I’d looked in the polytunnel, as there are often six or eight there, but you are supposed to stay in one spot for the count.

Two Small Whites. They seem to prefer the periwinkle to the buddleia.

Two Small Tortoiseshells. It’s not been a great year for them. We did see a lot on the lavender before the count started but they have gone. Traditionally this has been our commonest butterfly (despite population dips elsewhere) but not this year.

One Peacock. Sometimes rivals the Tortoiseshells for numbers but not this year so far.

One Comma. The first of the year. It just goes to show the benefit of taking time to look.

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Comma

It’s not a bad selection, but it’s a strange year for our two commonest butterflies. At least we have a surge in Red Admirals.

Meanwhile there are no Mint Moths about at the moment, despite seeing several early on in the season and there were no Gatekeepers/Meadow Browns flying during the count.

I will try again in the same place this afternoon and see if it makes a difference.