Tag Archives: summer

Butterflies and botany

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Small Heath – Havannah nature reserve.

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Peacock – Havannah nature reserve.

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Speckled Wood – Havannah nature reserve.

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Red Admiral – Holywell.

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Scarlet Pimpernel – Holywell.

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Harebell – Holywell.

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White Melilot – Backworth.

Just a few photographs taken over the last few weeks of summer. I was especially pleased to find the White Melilot growing between Earsdon and Backworth – a new and unusual species for me.

It’s been a while

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So here is a very nice Small Skipper. I haven’t seen too many so far this year, although one flew through the garden the other day, which is a first!

There has been some talk  that the weather has made it difficult for butterflies in 2016, which I guess is possibly true, although from my own observations I would say it depends upon the species.

There have been plenty of whites on the wing lately as well as the second generation of Small Tortoiseshells. I have spotted loads of Ringlet butterflies this year too so the conditions must have suited them, whilst there have been far fewer Speckled Wood than in 2014 which seemed to be a bonanza year for all lepidoptera.

Plenty of time left for some nice weather however, so I look forward to many morebutterflies over the coming weeks.

Green Veined White

Green Veined White Butterfly

This Green Veined White was resting in the front garden late last Sunday afternoon. I reckon the poor thing had just about had enough of the crazy weather – I think I would be pretty fed up too if were a butterfly lately.

The Green Veined White is the most northerly of the whites but you can’t always tell them apart when they are in flight. When resting it’s another matter as you can see the beautiful markings on their under-wings.

Green Veined White Butterfly

Green Veined White Butterfly

Green Veined White Butterfly

Patch Fantastic

Holywell Pond

Holywell has been superb over the last couple of months. It seems just when you think you know a place, it reveals something new, exciting and unexpected, which is certainly the way it has been this summer.

Over the past couple of months I have been lucky enough to see a number of new species I have not seen in the area before, the highlight of which has to be two otters which were carousing on the pond one evening in July. These were a first for me and though they were a way out on the water, were a magical sight nonetheless.

Also in July I added Little Owl to my patch list. I am not sure whether these are regular birds at Holywell – the area looks good for them but I have never seen them before. More recently the scrape in front of the public hide has seen some interesting passage wading birds, with Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Ruff and Green Sandpiper. Last week there was also a pair of Kingfisher here in the early morning, as well as a Water Rail feeding close to the reeds.

One of the best things I have ever seen at Holywell was a Swallow nest inside the public hide quite late on this summer. In the space of a few short weeks the adult birds hatched and fledged a pair of young, which up until last week were still roosting in the hide. The morning I was there the birds were fidgeting and stretching behind me before flying right past my ears and out of the hide. You can’t get much closer to nature than that!

After last Saturday evening’s thunderstorm and heavy rain I went up to Holywell to see how the wildlife had fared. It was a beautiful day and despite the awful weather of the night before, it didn’t seem to have taken its toll. There were clouds of Lapwing in the air over the fields and above the pond, as well on the scrape below – in all I would say there were well over three hundred birds with a good number of Starling mixed in too.

The scrape also held a good selection of waders, as well as plentiful ducks and geese, which together with the Lapwing lifted in spectacular style when a Buzzard flew over. In the willows and hedgerows round the pond there were quite a few young birds in evidence with family parties of Wren and Chiffchaff interacting with each other.

It was also good to see the local Wall Brown butterflies had not suffered too much from the weather either. Holywell seems to be a good spot for them and numbers seem to be much the same as last year which is encouraging.

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Wren

Wall Brown Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

The weather has been a bit changeable in the north of England this summer, so getting out and about to look for butterflies hasn’t always been easy. Back at the end of July this Small Tortoiseshell was nectaring on some Creeping Thistles I have let grow in the garden, so I didn’t have to go far to get a few photographs. What a stunner!

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

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Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Painted Lady

Painted Lady Butterfly

There have been quite a few more Painted Lady butterflies around this year – there was even talk that 2015 could be a bumper year for them, the first since 2009. Regardless of how many there are, I think Painted Ladies are amazing. The butterflies that make it this far north are likely to be the fifth or sixth generation of individuals that began their journey in North Africa or the southern Mediterranean back in spring! Wow!

Painted Lady Butterfly

Painted Lady Butterfly

Butterfly Bonanza

Ringlet Butterfly

Much as I love birds (and I really do), I am really into my butterflies at the moment, so it’s been very nice to see a fresh emergence of species over the last couple of weeks. I have seen my first Ringlets of the year, like the one above, as well as Large Skipper, Small Skipper and Meadow Brown. There were literally dozens of Ringlet at Gosforth Park Nature reserve at the weekend – I don’t think there is anything more uplifting than seeing large numbers of butterflies flitting around together.

Large Skipper Butterfly

Large Skipper nectaring on Meadow Cranesbill at St Nicholas Park in Gosforth.

Large Skipper Butterfly

Another Large Skipper at St Nicholas Park – the dark sex brand on each wing marks this one out as a male.

Meadow Brown Butterfly

This was my first sighting  of a Meadow Brown in 2015 – not one but two butterflies, locked together in a coital embrace!

Meadow Brown Butterfly

This male Meadow Brown posed nicely whilst soaking up some warmth in Gosforth Park.

Meadow Brown Butterfly

Speckled Wood Butterfly

A little frayed around the edges, this Speckled Wood still looked good basking in the sunshine last week.