Sunday, 19 August 2012

Catching up with Summer and Another Purple Butterfly!

On the few sunny days we have been lucky enough to enjoy recently and with the birds being mainly in hiding while enduring their seasonal moult, I have concentrated my thoughts, in the main, on butterflies and other insects. This post is a bit of a catch up of just some of my sightings from the last few weeks.

It has been heartening to see that, at least in my experience, the Marbled White Butterflies seem to have done well this year despite the constant downpours. I have seen them in at least five separate locations. The ones below were engaged in a bit of a battle for the same flower! 

Marbled White Butterflies

'And where the pretty butterflies
  Their glancing beauties show;
It always makes me glad to think
  All things with beauty glow.'
(Lizzy: 1857)

To the victor the spoils :-)

On a visit to a small, local lake, a few weeks ago, I saw this Four-spotted Chaser. I intended to post it last time but the Purple Emperor took precedence.

Four Spotted Chaser

There were lots of Blue-tailed Damselflies enjoying the warm and sunny day.

Blue-tailed Damselfly

And a walk along the canal towpath produced just one Banded Demoiselle. In previous years there have been lots of them and also Beautiful Demoiselles which I haven't seen at all this year although to be honest I have avoided water a little this Summer to protect myself from the infamous and extremely vicious Blandford Flies which I fell victim to last year and the year before!

Banded Demoiselle

An insect which seems to be everywhere which isn't surprising given their common name and obvious desire to constantly ensure the continuation of the species, is the Hogweed Bonking Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva). Apparently, they are very good at predicting thunder storms, when some hours beforehand they will all retreat to the undersides of leaves!

Hogweed Bonking Beetles

'And through the wide meadows a murmurous humming 
Of insects too happy to sleep.'
(Abba Goold Woolson)

I think I have been remiss in not showing any wildflowers recently so rather than devoting a whole post to them or making this post even longer ;-) I have compiled a collage of just some of the ones seen recently before they become hopelessly out of date.

Clockwise from top left: 1. A mixture including Musk Mallow, St. John's Wort and Self Heal.
2. Common Centaury. 3. Foxglove. 4. Common Spotted Orchid. 5. Ragged Robin. 6. Hemp Agrimony 7. Wild Marjoram. Middle: Clustered Bellflower.

I saw this day flying moth,  the Six-spot Burnet, in July when they seemed very few and far between but happily, I have seen many more in the last few weeks.

Six-spot Burnet Moth

Back to butterflies and, again despite the abysmal Spring and Summer, the skippers seem to have done well.

Large Skipper Butterfly

'On the gay bosom of some fragrant flower
They, idly fluttering, live their little hour;
Their life all pleasure, and their task all play,
All spring their age, and sunshine all their day.'
(Mrs Barbauld)

Small Skipper Butterfly

I was very pleased to discover another  butterfly I have never seen before and the one with which I started this post. Like the Purple Emperor (featured on my last post) it spends much of its time in the canopy of Oak trees but unlike its imperial relative it is much easier to find if one only looks. As mentioned in The Magazine of Natural History in 1837 and still true today:

'A person may walk though a wood which abounds with the little brilliant purple hairstreak, and yet not see a single individual, unless his attention is drawn to the right quarter. These insects keep hovering about, and settling upon the summits of oak trees; in which situation they sometimes absolutely swarm. They rarely approach the ground; and even in a cloudy day, if disturbed by your shaking the trees, they settle again in the same place. This insect then, though common and abundant, is not obvious.'

I was fortunate to see it lower down in an Oak but not fortunate enough, on this occasion, to see it with wings open to show the purple which gives it its common name.

Purple Hairstreak Butterfly

A butterfly I have seen many times before but worryingly, only once so far this year, is the Comma. I have seen it featured quite often on other bloggers' posts recently though so maybe I have just been unlucky. I do think it is a beautiful creature.

Comma Butterfly

This magnificent dragonfly was seen quite a distance from water. I am sure it is the Southern Hawker although I was a little confused as to why the head doesn't show any blue but perhaps it was the way the sun was shining on it or was it rather immature? 
EDIT: Thanks very much to Greenie for confirming that it was indeed immature.

Southern Hawker Dragonfly

'Till the dragon fly, in light gauzy armour
burnished bright,
Came tilting down the waters in a wild,
bewildered flight.'
James Whitcomb Riley

I will finish with this photo of a Bumblebee on Yellow Flag Iris which should have been posted a few weeks ago. It is so bright and cheerful that it seemed a shame not to share it. I had difficulty in deciding whether it is Bombus Terrestris or Bombus Lucorum but have opted for

Bumblebee (Bombus Terrestris) 
EDIT: Thanks again to Greenie for confirming my tentative ID.

I shall post sooner next time as I'm building up rather a backlog of photos and am in danger of still posting butterflies at Christmas time!

So, until then...enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.