Friday, 1 June 2012

Butterflies, Birds and the Beautiful British Countryside

After the rather gruesome tone of my last post this one returns to my gentler style. It has been so nice to be able to get out and enjoy the warmth and sunshine in the last couple of weeks but sad that we seem, in the last few days, to have returned to dull and rainy weather once again, such are the delights of living in the UK!

The following photo is one which was left over from a walk on one of the few decent days we had in April. I wasn't the only one who was enjoying a brief spell of sunshine.

Great Tit

Bluebells are well past their best now but were still looking lovely here just a couple of weeks ago when I photographed some lining each side of an old bridleway.


'There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.'
(Anne Bronte)

As regular readers will know, I love butterflies and with the spell of very early good weather in March my hopes were high that this year would be much better for them than last. However, with the dreadful weather throughout April and much of May those hopes were soon dashed. The sunshine and warmth of the last couple of weeks though has seen a rise in fortune for these little jewels of the air and, although I have not seen as many in my area as I would have liked, I have seen a few such as the lovely Orange Tip, one of the first butterflies to be seen in the Spring which hasn't overwintered as an adult. One of its main food sources is the Bluebell.

Orange-tip Butterfly (male)

And this lovely creature is the female, isn't she pretty?

Orange-tip Butterfly (female)

The countryside is looking beautiful after all the rain.

Another photo left over from the end of April is this one of a Blue Tit  with a caterpillar in its beak, I just managed the one quick snap before it flew off to feed it to its nestlings.

Blue Tit

'The little Titmouse! the little Titmouse!
What a comical fellow is he!
With his head awry, and his half-closed eye,
As much as to say "I see—
I see the maggot within the green bud;
You cannot, although your sight may he good.
I'm sharper than you, for I'm searching for food,
And I'm hungry very—chee! chee!"'

Everywhere I go at the moment I seem to flush Pheasants, sometimes I don't know who is the most startled! Just occasionally though I see them before they see me. It was nice to see this pair together but unfortunately they were at a distance and in poor light.

Pheasants (male and female)

This male was a bit closer. What a handsome fellow he is!

Pheasant (male)

A bird I don't see very often and which is on the red list of 'birds of conservation concern' is the Grey Partridge. I saw this one at the very end of a walk, I flushed it and its mate and they flew to the end of the field where I managed to get this quick photo just before it disappeared after its mate under a hedge.

Grey Partridge

Buttercups may be a common sight in the British countryside but no one can deny they are a cheerful sight especially on a sunny day with their golden heads nodding in the breeze.


'The buttercups with shining face
Smile upward as I pass.
They seem to lighten all the place
Like sunshine in the grass.'
(Sarah J. Day) 

The Speckled Wood is unique among British butterflies, it can overwinter in two stages as both a larva and pupa. This means there is a mixed emergence with adult butterflies on the wing from April to September, with a few adults being seen as early as March or as late as October, especially in the south. I saw this one appropriately, given its name, in woodland.

Speckled Wood Butterfly

I was hoping to get some photographs of the Brimstone Butterfly but although I saw several I couldn't persuade them to stop and have their photos taken. I did see this pretty little Green-veined White though.

Green-veined White Butterfly

'But lo! a white and spangled thing
Was sporting there on tiny wing;
In haste from flower to flower it flew,
And sucked from each the honied dew.'
(Louisa Segrave)

Finally another butterfly and this time one I had never seen before, the Dingy Skipper and in my opinion looking not at all dingy.

Dingy Skipper

Well that's all for now except to say that on the 23rd of May I heard my first Cuckoo of the year, they are so much less common than they used to be here so it was a real thrill to hear and get a brief glimpse of it in a tree just yards from me.

Until the next time...enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.


  1. such a collection of beauty! love the blooms and butterflies, but the canola fields are just gorgeous!

  2. Hi Songbird,
    Some lovely photo's today :-) Its been hard work finding the wildlife in the dreadful weather we had ( and its returning as I write!)

    Fingers crossed for the fledgling birds out there!

    PS: Lovely countryside photo, aesthetically beautiful, but much of it is useless for our wildlife, should it be left to to ''wild up a bit''? Or tidied to keep it traditional ? You know my thoughts :-)

  3. ShySongbird ,
    I can hear that Great Tit 'teachering' from here .
    Glad you found some butterflies and got very nice shots of them . Grizzled Skipper next ? The Grey Partridge , as well you know , is a difficult bird to get in the viewfinder , well done .
    Great read .

  4. Always a pleasure to read your blog Jan. You have had better luck than I've had lately.

  5. Hi Jan...Phenomenal photo's ..oh goodness the butterflies are just gorgeous in these photo's !!
    I cannot believe the one of the Rape Oil yellow everywhere ?? it looks like a painting, and the other with the Bluebells along the bridle way even more so!!
    Lovely post I enjoyed so much !!
    Hope your first day of June was a good on!! I am of to do my probably 1 or more hours of mowing my lawns!!

  6. Lovely post Jan, well done with your first Dingy Skipper and the Grey Partridge would be great to see round here. I've had one record in 15 years :-)

  7. You have a genuine taste for the most things like the butterflies, they come out so brilliantly. And, the rest are equally as beautiful. Thanks Jan.

  8. Beautiful--interesting photography

  9. Jan, a beautiful post. The butterflies are gorgeous and the flowers are just beautiful. The countryside shot is lovely with the yellow and your birds are wonderful too. The pheasants are cool, they would have to hide around here. Gorgeous photos, have a wonderful weekend!

  10. Beautiful photos Jan - those and your words and poems capture the essence of the English countryside perfectly. A wonderful post. Well done on the Dingy Skipper - a species I've never seen!

  11. TexWisGirl

    Thank you Theresa, the yellow fields are pretty, maybe not quite so good for allergy sufferers though ;-)

    Warren Baker

    Hi Warren, thank you :-) I know, we really do deserve better weather than this...and the wildlife certainly does, it's getting really disappointing!! Yes, you know I agree with you and thankfully we also have lots of more unkempt places round here too which might not look as lovely but is much more beneficial. The land where I saw the Partridge is being managed in a very wildlife friendly way :-)


    Thank you Greenie. Yes, that Great Tit was having a grand time :-) Grizzled Skipper would definitely be good, I shall keep looking!

    Mike Atwood

    Thank you Mike. The weather doesn't help and the birds are disappearing into leaf cover of course which makes things more difficult.

  12. A very lovely post Jan, much prefer your gentler style.{:))

  13. Stunning photos! Like you, we also enjoyed some sunny weather which makes all the difference as is seen in your bright clear shots. Need it brought back! The orange tipped butterfly is a beauty ~ how wonderful that you were able to name them all!

  14. Jan, a joy to be here again. The countryside is beautiful..I love the Blue tit.The bluebells are lovely and lucky you getting such shots of those beautiful butterflies. Have a wonderful weekend!


  15. Lovely set of pics, Jan.

  16. Wow its a very good post. The information provided by you is really very good and helpful for me. Keep sharing good information..

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  17. Hi Jan,

    Welldone getting the Butterfly photos, I find early in the year they're very difficult to snap and don't hang around in one place for long! I've only managed a Speckled Wood so far this year but know by July and August I'll manage plenty (assuming the warm weather returns).

    So disappointing isn't it to return to grey weather - thankfully not much rain here so I can still get out and about.

  18. Gorgeous shots Jan, love the Grey Partridge! The countryside is looking stunning at the moment, we are having `real growing weather`, as my Grandad used to say. Young birds are everywhere and the `flutters` are just starting to become more abundant, long may it continue!
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  19. Oh so wonderful pictures!!!
    Nice weekend

  20. Such a lovely post, thank you.

  21. grammie g

    Hi Grace, thank you. The Rape Seed is growing everywhere here at the moment, it does make the landscape look pretty. Oh my, I'm glad I don't have to do the mowing here! I wouldn't be able to breathe for a week with my allergies, as it is I have to shut all the doors and windows to keep the smell out!!

    Alan Pavey

    Thank you Alan, it is a shame the Grey Partridge has become such a rare sight these days, I was really pleased to see them :-)

    Bob Bushell

    Thank you for your lovely comment Bob, you're very kind :-)


    Thank you very much Nava :-)


    Thank you Eileen. Oh, believe me, the Pheasants would be much safer hiding here too...unfortunately!!
    I hope you are having a lovely weekend. We have a long one here as it's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations!

  22. Such lovely photos of all the butterflies! We had so many earlier this spring, and I'm hoping for a banner year this year. I've been too busy catching up on garden work to take many photos, though. I've been planting many of their favorites, like lantana and zinnias, so I hope I'll get some photos later.

    I know all the rain you've had has made for a gloomy spring, but everything looks so lush and green now!

  23. Ragged Robin

    Thank you Caroline, There's nothing like the English countryside is there? Especially when the sun is shining :-) I had been hoping to see a Dingy Skipper for a long time, I'm hoping for a Grizzled next having already seen Silver Spotteds at Watlington Hill.


    Thank you very much Roy, so do I really :-)


    Thank you Glo, Yes, the Orange Tip is lovely. We get such a short time in the year when our weather can be good so it is such a shame to see it slipping away so quickly with only a week or two of sunshine here and there.

    Nature Stop

    Hi Shantana, It is always a pleasure to have you here. I do love the butterflies but unfortunately the weather hasn't been good for them at all this year and we are back to dull, rainy and much cooler conditions again now. I hope you and the family have a lovely weekend too :-)


    Thank you Dean :-)


    Welcome! Thank your for visiting and for your comment.

  24. Some very nice butterfly shots there Jan. I particularly like the female Orange Tip.
    I know what you mean about the Pheasants, they're enough to give me a heart attack sometimes.
    Well done with the Grey Partridge, only ever seen one before, at a distance.

  25. Hi Jan,

    So lovely to pop over and read your cheerful post. I have just walked Nella and found a dead badger in the road, it really upset me, we do not get them that often. Sadly I think they are often shot :(

    I am so pleased to see so many butterflies, like you, I am concerned about them.
    I love the speckled wood and get them each year in the copse.

    You might like to know my daughter has many partridge near to her home. We often see them running along the road when we visit her.

    Love your post Jan and thank you once again for slowing down a busy day and giving me much to smile about, especially the little BT with the caterpillar.

    Have a lovely weekend :)

  26. Hi Jan,

    What gorgeous photos! Thank you so much for your comment on my blog. You and I already have a couple of things in common. We had older parents and we both love nature. Your blog is beautifully set up and I love your posts. Thank you so much for sharing. I am Canadian and so were my father's parents were born in Dartford, Kent.

  27. Hi ShySongbird, I'm enjoying your blog! Your photos are stunning - no bare branches here ;) Looking forward to another snoop round when I have more time.
    ps. love your quotes; Anne Frank - what an inspiration.

  28. gwirrel

    Hi Liz, Thank you, I agree they are very flighty at the moment...what few there are! I hope this weather soon improves, it really is so disappointing!!


    Thank you John. Well, according to the weeds in my garden it's definitely 'good growing weather'! Oh well, one man's weed and all that ;-) It's supposed to be a lot colder tomorrow, not good for flutters at all, roll on some better weather again!


    Thank you very much Crissi. I hope you have a lovely weekend too :-)


    Thank you Toffeeapple :-)


    Thank you Rose :-) It started well here too for the butterflies but rapidly went downhill. Yes, all the rain has made a difference after the very prolonged period of drought but we really could do with some better weather now especially for the butterflies and all the little fledglings. I hope all your planting pays off, I always look forward to seeing your beautiful butterflies.

  29. Phil

    Thank you Phil. I've definitely had some heart stopping moments with Pheasants :-) I was really pleased to see the Partridges, I don't know why it is but I often make some good finds at the very last minute of a walk.


    Thank you Cheryl :-) So sorry to read of your sad experience with the Badger, that is such a shame, I hate to see dead creatures on the roads and live in fear of something running out suddenly in front of the car, I would be distraught! Anyway, I'm so pleased my post cheered you up a little. Good to hear about the Partridges near your daughter's home. I do see Speckled Woods in my garden although I haven't spotted any this year so far.
    Enjoy the rest of the weekend Cheryl, I hope it isn't too busy for you.


    Hi Linda, Thank you for visiting again and for your kind comments. I've never been to Kent but quite a lot of my English blogland friends live there and being near the coast they see some wonderful birds which I don't see in my area.


    Hi Omi, Welcome, thank you very much for visiting and following and for your kind comments.
    Yes indeed, Anne Frank was a remarkable young woman! Such a terribly sad story but as you say so very inspirational.

  30. What a lovely variety of photographs, just loved them. Thank you so much!

  31. Lovely photos. Wish the butterflies would stay still in my garden, but they're very shy. I saw a pheasant on my neighbour's roof last year. I was so shocked, I didn't move until it was too late to get a photo.

  32. Another beautiful post, Jan. The English countryside is a joy to see. Enjoyed seeing the blubells and buttercups. I have never photographed an Orange Tip and I didn't know the female looked like that. The male pheasant is gorgeous! Lovely shot of the Speckled Wood butterfly too. I hope good weather returns so that you can go out and take more pictures for us to enjoy!:) It's raining here but with all that oppressive heat that we've been subjected to, I'm not complaining!

  33. Ale cudownie wiosennie jest u Ciebie. Zdjęcia kwitów, motyli i ptaków przeplatane wierszami, czyni post jeszcze bardziej ciekawym. Pierwsze zdjęcie jest cudowne. Pozdrawiam cieplutko.
    But miraculously wiosennie is with you. Photos receipts, butterflies and birds interspersed with poems, makes the post even more interesting. The first photo is wonderful. Yours warm.

  34. ...the British Countryside is so beautiful. I never tire of seeing those sweeping fields of green. I also loved all the butterflies. Lovely macros...

  35. Denise

    Thank you Denise :-)


    Thank you Crystal. Well, I'm not surprised it's just not what you expect to see on the roof :-)

    Nature Rambles

    Thank you Kanak. That's interesting, I didn't even know you had the Orange atop there! We still have miserable weather it really is so disappointing when we have such a short time in the year when we can expect it to be nice. I can imagine you are finding the rain very welcome there though.


    Thank you Giga. I must admit the first photo is one of my favourites. I think the Forget-Me-Not is such a pretty flower!
    Dziękuję Giga. Muszę przyznać, że pierwsze zdjęcie jest jedna z moich ulubionych. Myślę, Forget-me-Not jest taki ładny kwiat!


    Thank you Kelly. Despite all the abysmal weather it's a beautiful place to live :-)

  36. Lovely post, full of sunshine in words and pictures :) Good to see the partridge and the Dingy Skipper particularly.

  37. Lovely shots of the Great Tit and the Pheasants. Our countryside does look great at this time of year, when the Sun come out.

  38. OMG! Your pictures are beautiful....perfect! And I love how you intertwine the perfect verses throughout!! Well done!

  39. Beautiful selection Jan.
    I love that Bluebell bridleway.

  40. Jan, looking at this again, reminds me of what a butterfly and some sun etc. looked like!!!

  41. Marianne

    Thank you Marianne. I was pleased with those two myself.
    Sunshine! What's that??

    Midmarsh John

    Thank you John, it does indeed but will it ever come out again?!!


    Thank you Karen. I'm sure the verse isn't to everyone's taste but I do enjoy trying to find the right pieces to go with the photos, rather time consuming though!


    Welcome back Keith and thank you :-)


    Thank you Jerry. I'm getting very worried about what this weather is doing to the butterflies and the fledglings!

  42. What a lovely varied post.All the butterflies, especially the gorgeous female Orange-tip,and Dingy Skipper with the sun shining on their wings.The yellow fields, and the bluebells lining the bridle way,are a reminder of how beautiful the english countryside can be.
    The time and care taken with your
    posts is very much appreciated.:)

  43. From viewing your photographs, one can see that the British Countryside is indeed beautiful. This post contains a stunning collection of gorgeous nature captures! I oohed and aahed as I scrolled through each photograph. What a gifted photographer you are! How lucky you are to see such splendid butterflies and birds. This delightful post brought a big smile to my face. Thank you for sharing.

  44. Dear Jan,
    How did I miss seeing all your butterflies?
    Perhaps I have been outside too much playing with caterpillars! I am so happy you had a day of butterflies. They bring such joy to my heart.
    Birds, bugs and blooms...lovely. I think the bugs figure out the wet and dry....
    It sounds as if you have had enough rain for now....time for sunshine.

  45. I hope you get the sun back soon! These butterflies are so lovley!! I was thrilled to see these. The top shot is perfect!!
    The pheasant is also a beauty...glad you got to hear the Cuckoo...I heard a Bob White, or better known as a Quail, used to see many around here but the fields are not planted with pines and are becoming forests.... and it has changed the habitat so we dont get the Bob White Quail close by any longer.

  46. Breathtaking

    Thank you so much for your very kind comments, they are much appreciated :-) The English countryside is wonderful in the sunshine. Unfortunately we haven't had much of it at all this year, it is so disappointing and the effect of such prolonged bad weather on the wildlife is devastating :-(


    Thank you so much for your very sweet comments. Now the leaves are all on the trees again it has become much more difficult to find the birds and with the persistent, atrocious weather it is difficult to find butterflies too :-( It would be much easier if I enjoyed photographing buildings...but I don't ;-)


    Thank you Sherry. I'm glad you have been busy playing with caterpillars and of course dancing with butterflies :-) I do wish the weather was better here so I could dance with them too. After that very brief respite we are back to the bad weather, it is so disappointing and devastating for all our wildlife! We really have had enough of it now...please send us some sunshine for the butterflies (and me) to dance in :-)


    Thank you. I so hope we get the sun back soon!! I too thought the butterfly looked pretty on the Forget-Me-Not.
    We have Quail here but 'Bob White' is a new one to me! Such a shame it has lost its habitat.

  47. Love the closeups on the butterflies. Beeeautiful! And to see pheasants!!! What a treat!

  48. Wonderful photos. I didn't need to ask which of the pheasants was the male; it has to be the colourful one. :) Thank you so much for sharing your photos, it is always a delight to visit your blog!


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