This time of year is always rather a pain in the neck, as I spend much of my time with my head tilted, looking up into the upper branches of oak trees, in the search for Purple Hairstreak. We have several colonies along Roman Road – sometimes there is a great deal of activity, other times the neck pain goes unrewarded, watching for the tell-tale silver flash as the butterfly flits out only to disappear back again into the trees.
We received great publicity for the wild flowers on the traffic island, but we also planted a further patch half way along the bridle path. These were planted a month later than the traffic island, but are now looking fantastic.
April work party when the wild flowers were sown.
The yellow flowers seem to be the most popular with our butterflies.
The Scarlet Tigers have all disappeared now but there are plenty of new arrivals. Along with a new batch of Commas, we have Small Tortoiseshell and Gatekeeper. Today there was a beautiful pristine Red Admiral flitting around – not remaining still enough, long enough for a decent photo. Also Monday saw the first of the summer generation of Holly Blue. They did well in the spring, so hope to see many more over the coming weeks.
We also have several Skippers, who also like the yellow daisies. I spend hours photographing Skippers because I am unable to distinguish with the naked eye, between Small and Essex. Even with copious photos, I have difficulty. I think that all my photos show Essex but please feel free to correct me if wrong.
We also have lots of Birds Foot Trefoil showing plus Betony, Knapweed, Ladies Bedstraw and (I think) Devil’s Bit Scabious – I know Patrick planted this but I have only just noticed it.
Is this Devil’s Bit Scabious?
The butterfly that tends to get overlooked is Speckled Wood. I always call this ‘old reliable’ as it always turns up. A bit of a success story, this one, as it has gradually extended its territory northwards over recent years.
We also have problems with vandalism along the lane – recently both bins at the Crem end of the bridle path have been burnt out – melted in fact. The Council has removed the mess, as much as possible, but this means that the inner metal bins have also been taken away, so we have no bins at all. Sad to say, it’s to be expected in a quiet cul-de-sac in an urban area.
The mess left after the bin melt-d0wn.
But I refuse to be down-hearted when there is so much beauty around. There are some unexpected plants to be found, including hops, something very close to my heart. The Comma butterfly was considered a pest, due to the caterpillars taste for hops. I wonder if the ones on Roman Road lay eggs on it.
I had the most delightful encounter with 2 grandparents, their grandson and dog during the Scarlet Tiger flight season. To the embarrassment of his grandmother, but to my amused delight, the little boy fired many questions, not just about my dirty fingernails but mainly about the moths and they put on one of their magic flying displays. It made it all seem much more special.
And finally, Ringlets have done particularly well this year, not just here but everywhere I’ve visited. After a slow start, the whites are now gathering pace – just waiting for the Peacocks to appear plus a few Painted Ladies, hopefully. We did have this lovely visitor found amongst the grass on one of my forays.