Monday, 3 June 2013

Painted Ladies in the Sun!

3rd June.  Last time I used ‘Painted Ladies’ in the title my readership shot up!

Dandelion Head
I decided to take a walk along the wagon-way today.  I’d not been along there for sometime and although I wasn’t expecting too much in the way of birds along there at this time of year, I did think that the sun would bring out some butterflies.  This year so far has on the whole been poor for butterflies.

Green-veined White Butterfly
I took a slight detour and crossed to the point that gives a really good view across the open farmland, the sea and St Mary’s Lighthouse.  I think I can follow the line of Holywell Dene too, at least in part.  Swifts’ Swallows and House Martins flew over the fields and the song of Skylarks was heard.  I’d have been happy enough to sit down and spend the afternoon here, but decided to retrace my steps and follow the wagon-way.  As I passed the horses in the field large numbers of juvenile Starlings flew into the area of the animal’s feet hoping for an easy meal.  Blackbirds and Chiffchaff sang.

Initially I found little in the way of butterflies, as I say, it has been a poor year for them.  White species flew over the fields, but not in the numbers that I would have expected on such a hot day in June.  A couple of flighty butterflies flew into the gardens before I had time to be sure what they were.  I think at least one of them was a Peacock.  I soon found Large, Small and Green Veined White.  The field where I often find butterflies held only Large White today, but on leaving it I found a rather flighty Speckled Wood.  Willow Warblers sang.  At this point a guy who I have often seen around the patch approached and asked me what I had been trying to photograph.  The chat led onto all sorts about wildlife and our travels around various countries.  I never did get the photo of the Speckled Wood, but the other guy did get to see what I think was a new butterfly to him.  He, having just told me of fantastically large and colourful butterflies in India and such like, I’m not so sure he would have been that impressed.  Never the less the Speckled Wood Butterfly does show very well in the sunlight.  The guy continued his walk and I hung about for a bit.  It was a day to take one’s time and it paid off as I found a pair of Blackcap, as the Song Thrush took up song.  Surely Blackcap must be one species which is doing well.  I’ve seen so many this spring.

I decided to continue down the next phase of the wagon-way.  There was little about although I did pick out one Stock Dove and Linnet.  Along with more White species of Butterfly I found a Painted Lady Butterfly on the footpath.  This is a popular area for them and the area I watched them in large numbers two or three years ago during the very large influx of them into the UK.  I remember reading at the time that there was still some argument about their migration and whether or not they actually returned to North Africa or the population simply died.  It has since been found that they definitely do return and in fact they have the longer migration route than the American Monarch Butterfly.  Anyway this one took off as I approached, but was soon flying up and down over the foot path sussing me out before settling again in the exact same spot.  I quietly approached it ensuring my shadow did not cross it.  It allowed me to sit closely beside it.  It closed its wings and then flicked them open and shut several times before taking off, only to return again to the same position on the foot path.  Two more butterflies which may or may not have been Painted Lady Butterflies flew overhead in courtship flight.  I eventually carried on my walk and found that on my return the Painted Lady Butterfly was in the same position.  I made towards home and my dinner.

Painted Lady Butterfly

I was back out this evening to meet up with Sam at the lake.  We listened to the Sedge Warbler, of which we caught only a brief glimpse, and watched the Great Crested Grebe family.  The two youngsters were briefly on the water this evening.  The small reed-bed was showing a beautiful reflection on the water surface.  Common Terns fished close by us.  It was a wonderful evening and we walked around the larger lake.  Sam had seen the male Goosander earlier and I found it resting on the lakeside edge.  A fifth Great Crested Grebe was on the lake.  Chiffchaff was heard and Pied Wagtail flew frantically by the lakeside.  We bumped into the couple I had spoken to the other evening and we were shown photographs of the Great Crested Grebe and the life saving done in 2010.  The photographs had been taken by KH.  It had been a very nice way to end the day and the sun was still throwing down warmth as I headed for home.

The long staying Goosander which can fly but not too well.  It did disappear for a while and we wonder if this was the one that turned up at Big Waters recently.

Heavily cropped image of the Great Crested Grebes.  Unlike last year they have been difficult to photograph since they abandoned their first nest.  Perhaps not a bad thing that they are keeping their distance.  The light on the water was excellent this evening.


  1. Talking of headings that attract an audience, it seems that my last blog heading "Little and Large(r)" drew seven visits via a web page about fat loss for fitness!

  2. :-) Oh well, I guess it is good to have a mix of readership Andrew. Goodness knows what web page drew my visitors in!