Tag Archives: small tortoiseshell

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.

Birthdays and Blue Butterflies

It was the Birthday Party today, and we had cake. It was actually an 86th birthday rather than an 85th, as I previously said, so I got an extra year for free.

I also got a present, even though it isn’t my birthday. Bill has completed a marathon cutting session and gave me 112 pieces of wood. Eventually they will become 16 nest boxes, but for now they are merely a dream.

Combined ages 169!

Combined age 169 years and still eating cake

On the way down to the farm I stopped for a few minutes to take some photographs of bales in a field when a blue flash fluttered past. It took a bit of stalking but I eventually got a decent shot.

The tractor is in that phase of restoration where the Men in Sheds have actually removed even more bits in order to get at other bits that need mending. If you look at the back wheel you may be able to pick out the cardboard box they are using to make a gasket. Farmers and Mne in Sheds rarely spend money when they can cut up the box the cake came in.

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There is evidence of progress as some parts have been put back. I could start a competition asking people to compare the last post and see what has been done. But I won’t.

There’s certainly been more done to the tractor than the butterfly garden. The dwarf buddleias are now getting on for 6 feet tall and the full size ones are 9 foot monsters. There were plenty of Small Tortoiseshells (about 20 I should think) but only a handful of whites and a solitary Peacock.

You’d think that a wild and unkempt garden was best for wildlife but according to something I read recently it isn’t true. An untidy garden is good, and better for wildlif,e than a totally wild one. Strangely, the monster buddleias are acconpanied by patches of bare earth where useful plants (like borage and daisies) have been ripped out and little has grown back due to shadows and inhospitable clay.

This is certainly true for photography – the out of control buddleia makes it a lot harder to get decent photos.

The last six guineafowl are still around (the white one refused to be photographed) and several of the bantams seem to be living the free-range lifestyle. They were too quick for me to get a decent shot, but they are looking good.

Fortunately I was luckier with my morning and evening visits to Julia’s garden, which I will report on later.

Bees, buddleias and butterflies

The last week has seen a resurgence of Small Tortoiseshells, peaking at 18 this morning when I did a count.  Having read a Royal Horticultural Society article on buddleia recently, where they didn’t record a single visit from Small Tortoiseshells in 2009, I was beginning to worry.

The article, incidentally, answers a question I was going to research next year – do colours of buddleia matter for attracting butterflies? It seems not – the top four for attracting butterflies were violet (2), white and light blue. They were all at the top end of the trial for scent, which may have a bearing.

It does say that “Foxtail” (number 2 for attracting butterflies) was top in the Butterfly Conservation Buddleia trial, though the 2012 Butterfly Conservation Buddleia Trial had “Dartmoor” as its top variety (which was 12th in the RHS trial).

Yes, I am confused.  I’m also slightly relieved that someone else has already done the work for me. Our two main buddleias don’t seem to have any difference between them at the moment, which suggests that any difference may be down to site rather than colour or scent (as neither of them seem to be scented).

The white and the blue are struggling to establish themselves after last year’s massacre so it’s hard to make any comment on them.

I’ve also lost the tickets for the buddleias we planted so I can’t tell you what cultivar they are.

The mint was also doing well this morning, with Small Tortoiseshells and Mint Moths. It was also heaving with a selection of bees, which makes me wish I knew more about insects.Truth is that I’m at an age where it’s harder to learn, so I may never know much about bees. It’s a gap in my knowledge, but it’s not likely to be too much of a problem, unlike my lack of knowledge about football and horse racing, which are both deadly to my hopes of ever winning Pointless.

 

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.

 

The Butterflies arrive!

We haven’t seen many butterflies this year. Even on sunny days we’ve not seen more than half a dozen and I’ve been starting to worry that we were in for a disastrous year.

However, things took a turn for the better today when Julia came back from the lavender patch with reports of 16 Small Tortoiseshell as the headline figure. I had to have a look for myself and found the butterflies dotted about all over the lavender like rubies on velvet. Of course, I exaggerate, they were more like orangey things on purple shrubs, but for a moment I felt in the mood for a simile. Butterflies and sunshine can have this effect on a man.

On a more prosaic level, it gave me a chance to compare new camera with old one (I think the old one won) and several exciting times as I thought I saw new species.

The possible Ringlet turned out just to be a very brown meadow brown but the skipper gave me my first photograph of a Large Skipper. It took me over 20 minutes to identify it when I got the pictures back to the computer, but the pointed antennae (from a picture taken by the old camera) finally solved it for me.

It’s a bit like children – they all look the same to me. Unlike children, of course, I can take lots of photographs without incurring any suspicion.

 

Butterfly Diary

First butterfly this year: Small White on Sunday 20th March – Bulwell Forest Golf Club. I was in the car on my way to TESCO.

First butterfly on the farm: Peacock and Brimstone – both spotted by Julia on Friday 1st April during a farm walk.

I saw a Peacock this morning too.

I’m very bad at recording things but I do know Peacocks are the first butterflies we normally see and that I took a picture of one on a crocus last year, indicating that it was a month earlier than this sighting, though last year was warmer and I’d actually seen a Small Tortoiseshell in Peterborough the day before the Peacock on the farm.

Sorry about the poor photo of the Brimstone – we don’t see them often and I don’t always have my camera with me when we do see them.