Sunday, 23 August 2020

Butterflies and bees

Having waited at base all yesterday for a scheduled delivery that never arrived, we were keen to spend some time outdoors this afternoon. We visited our 'usual' lockdown haunt and were pleased to see a couple of bees on the Ragwort. The male Red-tailed Bumblebee above was the first of its kind I had seen for some weeks. 

We looked hard in case there were any Cinnabar larvae, but there was no sign today of the distinctive stripy caterpillars.

We found a new track that ran between swathes of thistles and long grass, and looked ideal for insects.

I came across the name of this yellow daisy-like flower very recently, but find I have forgotten it. Please feel free to leave a comment if you know. (Update: 24 August. My thanks to Conehead54, who tells me it is Common Fleabane). 

All in all David counted the four Holly Blues, four Speckled Wood, forty-six Small Whites, one Red Admiral and one Comma... in addition to the butterfly you see in the photo above. I had thought it was a faded Gatekeeper and that its 'second' white spots had failed to show, but I'm pretty sure it is a Meadow Brown.  

Comma, underside

 You can see the white 'comma' quite clearly on the underwing of the butterfly above.

The same Comma

When we eventually found a Red Admiral, it was perching with its wings closed. I waited and waited, and in my haste to catch the moment when the wings opened, I cut off the antennae in my shot: what a shame. 

I believe I have mentioned before that the footpath passes beside a barley field. As you can see the grain is ripening well. Barley always reminds me of the west wind in the song by Sting.

We are halfway through a fascinating documentary by writer, naturalist and poet, Helen Macdonald, about urban wildlife around the M25. The diversity not only of species but also of habitat is astonishing in this very busy area that circumnavigates London. 

Our current 'exercise spot' here in Suffolk hardly bears any resemblance to the M25 and yet it is a place adjacent to the port of Felixstowe with goods trains, bulging with containers, bustling to and fro at frequent intervals. The port is in fact Britain’s busiest container port, and one of the largest in Europe.

Industry sandwiched between trees and hedges

Given how close the barley field footpath is to such a hub of heavy industry, we have been delighted to discover a healthy diversity of species over the last few weeks. Slightly to our surprise (given how few butterflies are showing in the garden right now), it was satisfying to find good numbers of butterflies on the wing this afternoon, but there are definitely signs that the season is changing...


Conehead54 said...

Looks like a very pleasant walk Caroline! The yellow flower is Common Fleabane- typical of damp situations. A popular nectar plant for quite a lot of insects. Amongst the bees & hoverflies I was watching a couple of Meadow Browns on it in our local country park a couple of days ago. Have found in the past Common Blue & Small Copper are quite partial to it.

The photo below is indeed a female Meadow Brown. The Gatekeepers here have largely gone over now, though I did see one female on Saturday hanging on, but that was my first for over a week.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Thank you for highlighting the nature documentary, we will certainly give that a watch!

Coastal Ripples said...

Lovely to see the different species in your corner. Still a poor year here. Many more small whites now and quite a few peacocks. Still to see a painted lady this year after so many last. B x

Caroline Gill said...

Thank you all for your kind comments, and, Conehead54, I will add Common Fleabane to the post. Strangely it isn't the name I had in mind, but perhaps I was thinking of a different yellow flower... And, strangely, I would have considered the area a pretty dry one, but perhaps there was a damp patch near the path.

Lowcarb team member said...

Looks a nice walk.
Good to see all the butterflies.

All the best Jan