Archive for the 'Butterflies' Category

23
Aug
21

Adonis in the rain

It’s no coincidence that probably the most stunning butterfly we have in the UK carries the name of the god of desire and beauty.

We were once again up against it with the weather. This time in our search for Adonis Blue Butterflies. A gun metal grey sky and occasional drizzle didn’t put us off taking a small group to Hertfordshire on Saturday. The day was brightened considerably by us finding about 20 males and a few females of this metallic blue beauty.

Here’s Tania showing off the finer points of a male Adonis Blue which took to her hand for the warmth. Even the underside of the wings on this creature go above expectations.

14
Aug
21

A little skip

I’m not sure what species of seaweed or pine cone the BBC are using for forecasting these days but I’ll give them some information for free … it’s not working. When the weather app says sunny all day for several days in advance and with 12 hours to go they change it to cloud with rain something ain’t right. The clue is in the name. It’s supposed to be a ‘fore-cast‘.

Anyways, it’s sufficient to say finding butterflies on the Silver Spotted Skipper day in Buckinghamshire wasn’t as easy as it could have been on Thursday. However, even with the drizzle, even with the cloud and even in the rain we managed to find 18 species of butterfly on one south facing slope. Included in the list were some dazzling Adonis Blues and of course a couple of Silver Spotted Skippers.

06
Aug
21

A few More

A few more butterflies from the last couple of weeks.

Silver Washed Fritillary
Dark Green Fritillary
Gate Keeper showing some additional spotting and a blemish on the left wing
Wall Brown
Small Copper showing unusually long ‘tails’ on the hind-wing – tails are not unusual on males of second broods but these are quite long.
23
Jul
21

Odds and Sods

A few photos from this spring and summer, taken on tours around the county and country, that I haven’t had time to post previously …

12
Jul
21

A butterfly fest

This last weekend saw us firstly taking a group to Gloucestershire on Saturday to see a formerly extinct British butterfly; the Large Blue. An insect inscribed in India ink. A unique upperwing among our blue butterflies makes this insect quite unmistakable. They took a little finding in cloudy weather but as soon as the sun sent a shaft of light our way several showed well.

On Sunday we had no such difficulty with a different group in finding Purple Emperors. In fact they found us. Guest Emma even took to wearing one as a hair slide! This large vibrant butterfly is difficult to find in some years … not so at the weekend. We saw around a dozen and each one was ‘just out of the box’ perfect.

If you would like to join us for another butterfly day around Norfolk this coming Saturday 17th July when we’ll be searching for hairstreaks and fritillaries see the following link and let me know. https://mailchi.mp/e813641f05ca/norfolk-butterfly-day

23
Jun
21

Many a smile

There’s nothing like seeing faces light up when a butterfly decides to appear. Here’s a small selection from tours in the last two or three weeks. Holly Blue, Emma with an Orange Tip, Dingy Skipper and a Marsh Fritillary.

20
Jun
21

Making a difference

This last few days Tania and I were transported 200 years into the past. We spent a few days at Knepp.

Back-to-back Nightingale territories, Turtle Doves purring from every bush; a songbird density the like I have never seen in the UK and more woodpeckers than a cider carnival were all on offer. In addition, throw in a few attractive, big, eye-catching species like nesting White Storks, Beavers and you have an area that emulates what some of our countryside was like in years gone by. Achieved by incorporating old English longhorn Cattle, Exmoor Ponies, Tamworth pigs, Roe, Red and Fallow Deer the former 350 acre West Sussex farm is prevented from reverting into woodland. The resulting scrubland enables species to thrive.

We were impressed. We were very impressed.

I won the trip in a photographic competition some years ago; but it wasn’t until now that it was practical to cash in the gift certificate. We stayed in a Shepherd’s hut. No electricity and, no bathroom couldn’t really be said to be our scene. Another 200 year throwback. However, over the couple of days we were there this basic form of ‘glamping’, getting up with the sun and going to bed after sunset, became appealing. A slower life. As close as we can perhaps get to sustenance living. Showering under the sky and using communal washrooms wasn’t our cup of tea. However, we found oddly we didn’t want to leave. Maybe it was the cacophony of beautiful birdsong surrounding us as we woke in the mornings or the lulling evensong that put us to sleep; I don’t know, but this simpler life we found appealing.

Would I pay £110 a night to stay in a garden shed with a bed in it? Well, I find it incredible I’m saying it … but maybe yes, I would.

I know some of you will be interested in the White Storks. A number of introduction methods have been used. There are 7 nests this year. We saw around a dozen birds and saw three nests. These are non-migrating mainly rehabilitated birds, although at least one bird is thought to have arrived under its own ‘steam’ as it were. Next year will be the first year that birds will (hopefully) return that may be thought of as being truly wild. These birds were encouraged, by the way they were introduced, to migrated away with a view to them returning after at least two years maturing on the dark continent.

Normally, I’m not a big reintroduction fan. I believe if you get the land and its use right, if you get the foundation of the pyramid nice and solid, life will find its own way there. In this instance however ‘I get it’. Something big and bold reintroduced to eye-catch and bring in the punters was required. Although don’t be surprised if village rooftop nesting storks hit the headlines in the non-too distant future and the ‘householder-noise’ it creates is not all positive. However, there would be no objection from me if a bill clapping White Stork nested on my roof! What an alarm clock!

(female Banded Demoiselle, Scarce Chaser showing mating marks, Club tailed Dragonfly photographed close to Knepp, Fallow deer, Tamworth sow with piglets, Beautiful Demoiselle, Exmoor ponies, Red Deer, White Stork, Common spotted Orchid, The Tamworth hut where we stayed and ground turned over by the pigs.

15
May
21

On the wing

A walk along the coast this week produced a smattering of butterflies where the sun lit up sheltered spots. We came across eight species in all. The most common by far were the Painted Ladies. These migrants leapfrogging their way north from the Nile Valley in Egypt were mostly travelling at some speed; but one or two took breath to give a chance of a photo.

05
May
21

First flight

My first Speckled Wood of the year last week … fresh out of the box.

31
Dec
20

Goodbye 2020

It’s always difficult to give the best wildlife moment of any year. Usually because there are so many to choose from. 2020 has been made no less easy due to there being less travel and fewer occasions when wildlife has presented itself. A pauper’s choice? Maybe, but we forged a few worthwhile memories.

The year opened with a Black necked Grebe within photographing distance at Holkham. The only one we saw all year. The Eastern Yellow Wagtail continued to present itself on an inland muck pile throughout January and was more photographable for the habituality developed by the proximity to its steady stream of admirers.

Ever since a raw February day in 1991, almost 30 years ago, when I first distantly saw an American Bittern in a ditch on the outskirts of Blackpool, I have dreamed of finding my own. I’d have preferred finding it at Cley or Titchwell but I guess the Everglades will have to do. We watched an individual as it stalked its way through a reedbed in Florida. The best thing about it was it was close. So close we could have touched it. My guests always say to me the best things they see when they are out with me are the birds and animals they see well. They are right.

Many other delights presented themselves in Florida and a small selection of photographs is included here.

As the year went on a few good birds presented themselves in Spring. Perhaps the pick of them was the Blyth’s Reed Warblers splattered about the East coast. We were lucky to have very good views of one in North Walsham.

Heath Fritillary Butterflies and White legged Damselflies to the South in June were a welcome break from local walks here in West Runton.

In July I saw my first comet with a tail. I couldn’t get enough of it. Another wonder of the natural world marked off the bucket list.

Southern Migrant Hawkers in West Norfolk gave me a good opportunity to study the species. We stopped and watched them for a full day. I’m sure they will become more frequent in future but getting so close to them at Thompson Common will live long in the memory.

It took two trips north to see the Lammergeier. I was pleased to see it despite not getting the front row stall seat views others obtained, but that didn’t make it any the less exciting. I hope to see more Bearded Vultures within Spain during 2022.

Silver spotted Skippers and Adonis Blues were on the menu in high summer and as October dawned a Hoopoe gave excellent views, again on an inland muck-pile, in Norfolk. Can you see a trend developing here?

On Scillies this year, as always, it was a treat; but one bird stands out for me as being particularly close and obliging. It’s not rare, but still special to see on this side of the Atlantic. A Pec Sand on Tresco gave itself to us. It has been a few years since I’ve had one that has been so confiding.

A ‘first’ is always memorable and in October, between tours, an Eastern Rufous Bush-Chat made landfall on a muddy saltmarsh a few miles down the road. We watched it along with others as it fed and spread its tail within the suaeda. Much more satisfying however was the Pallas’ Warbler not but a few hundred metres away that picked insects from the underside of sycamore leaves like a miniature trapezist right in front of our faces.

November was all local. A corking Desert Wheatear and a Lesser Yellowlegs that had no fear were both within walking distance of one another. It looks like the opening months of 2021 will also need to be local. However this wont be forever.

I’m looking forward to what 2021 will bring.




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