Tag Archives: White

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.

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

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.