Finally a butterfly that settled long enough for a photo. This Peacock was my fifth butterfly, third species for 2022.
Butterfly species seven and eight for the year for me are the gorgeous Peacock (I saw five on one of the few days we actually had some warm sunshine) and that lover of the woodland edge, the Speckled wood (two now seen – more will surely follow, when the sun returns).
I’ve been saving this photo, taken quite recently, on 22 September, for just such a day as this. We are currently under the thumb of Storm Alex, the Met Office having issued a yellow warning for heavy rain and wind gusts over 20mph until midday tomorrow. So, to me, this is the perfect day to post this gorgeous Peacock butterfly, a heartening splash of bold cheery colour.
Though second-brood butterflies are still looking pristine, many of the others are now well past their best, as life is tough for such fragile creatures. Some butterflies are so battered that I’m amazed they’re able to fly at all, yet this Gatekeeper and Ringlet were still moving from plant to plant.
Birds looking for an easy snack often attack butterflies and it’s easy to see the tell-tale signs of bird pecks on butterflies’ wings, like those on these: a Ringlet, Comma, Small copper and Peacock, and another Gatekeeper.
Is it the blazing sun that has caused this Essex skipper’s orange to fade so dramatically or has it lost most of its wing scales?
I’m 99% sure this is the same Brown argus, seen first on 1 August and again on 10 August. It already had some bird pecks when I first saw it but, nine days later, it was looking rather faded and more than a little ragged around the edges.
This Painted lady is looking battered, bird-pecked, faded and jaded, perhaps the affects of a long migration journey, or simply a tough life well survived.
Yesterday’s walk around Cardiff Bay didn’t only bring nice birds, it also produced my second butterfly species for the year, a Small tortoiseshell. Unfortunately, the wind blew it away so quickly, twice, that I didn’t manage a photo. But I did get a couple of shots of today’s third species, this lovely Peacock. And I also saw number four, my first Brimstone, a male that was so intent on flying back and forth along the footpath trying to find a female that I only got a blurry shot of it. In these troubled times, it makes my heart sing to see the butterflies emerging again.
Yesterday, with my friend Sharon, I went to Slade Wood, in the neighbouring county of Gwent, for a walk and some butterflying.
The woodland was lovely and a haven from the hot sun but, for us, the best butterflying was to be had just wandering along the country lane leading to the woodland. With high hedges, abundant wildflowers and occasional blooming Buddleia bushes, backed by the tall woodland trees, it was heaven for butterflies. These are a few of the 12 species we saw …
My first White admirals of the year, the first I’ve seen in Wales; they seem to float over the vegetation.
Those giant orange-and-brown speedsters, the Silver-washed fritillaries.
Red admiral extracting minerals from poo … mmmmm, delicious!
Comma, incredibly well camouflaged amongst the grasses and leaf litter, also heading for a slurp at the poo.
Peacock, hiding its glorious bold colours away behind those closed wings.
Small tortoiseshell, a pretty little butterfly that I don’t see very often, so a delight to spot one of these.
birding, birdwatching, British birds, British butterflies, butterflies, Cinnabar caterpillars, Comma, Cows, Glamorgan Bird Club, Green-veined white, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Red fox, Red kite, River Ely, Sand martin, Small tortoiseshell, Stock dove
Yesterday I enjoyed another wonderful, if rather hot day’s birding with my friends from the Glamorgan Bird Club, this time wandering a trail alongside the River Ely near Peterston-super-Ely and Pendoylan.
On the way there, my friend John and I had incredibly close views of three Red kites and more of these magnificent birds of prey were gliding overhead during our walk.
We saw Stock doves (one pictured above) sitting obligingly close to Woodpigeons so we could see the differences in the two species.
A Red fox was spotted trotting along in a distant field, its lunch in its mouth.
A large herd of large cows moved reluctantly away from the river so we could pass by. You’d have to be crazy to mess with this lady, who was keeping a steady eye on us in case we ventured too close to her calves.
The fifteen participants … well, fourteen really, as I was taking the photo.
The meandering River Ely was running low due to the recent drought conditions here in south Wales.
As well as birds, we also saw lots of butterflies, including these: Cinnabar caterpillars, Comma, Green-veined white, Meadow brown, Peacock, and more Small tortoiseshell than I’ve ever seen in one day before.
The highlight of the day for me was watching these Sand martins hawking for food over the fields and then returning to their burrows in the river bank to feed their hungry young. Magic!
I think it’s fair to say it’s not been much of a Spring so far, weather wise at least. It’s often been cool, frequently wet, and the sun has been elusive. I’m hoping Monday, the last day of April, was a hint of days to come – though there was a cool wind, the skies were mostly blue and it was warm in sheltered spots. Those conditions at Cosmeston persuaded the butterflies to come out to play, and I saw the highest numbers so far this year: 7 Brimstones, 2 Orange-tips, 2 Speckled woods, 2 Commas and 4 Peacocks. And it was such fun to be cavorting like a crazy woman again, flitting across fields and dancing along hedgerows to try to get photographs.
Aposematism: noun; from the Greek ἀπό apo meaning ‘away’ and σῆμα sema meaning ‘sign’; a term developed in the 19th century, reputedly by Edward Bagnall Poulton (a British evolutionary biologist), for the bright colorations or conspicuous markings that creatures use to warn or repel predators. Typical examples are things like bright yellow frogs or orange-and-black-striped caterpillars, whose colours serve as a warning to potential predators that they taste bad or might even be poisonous, and, butterflies, like the Peacock shown here, with big bold eye-type markings that make them look larger than they really are.
Spring came to south Wales on Saturday at approximately 3.30pm and lasted about 4 hours. (It’s supposed to return again next week and stay a few days but, in the constantly changing contemporary climate, it pays not to count your chickens – or, maybe that should be, your rays of sunshine!) Amazingly, as soon as the sun appeared, so too did the butterflies. It was like a door had been opened – where had they been hiding, I wonder? In the space of about 30 minutes, I saw Peacocks and Commas, several never-settling Brimstones, a distant large-or-small White, and my first Speckled wood of the year. Oh, and a couple of Bee-flies – not butterflies, obviously, but the cutest wee flying things you ever did see so I’ve included one here. It was delightful!