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post even longer ;-) I have compiled a collage of just some of the ones seen recently before they become hopelessly out of date.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.


  1. a nice collection of blooms and insects. i like those beetles and the beautiful moth, too. :)

  2. Butterflies at Xmas.....Mmmmmm sounds good to me Songbird.

    Lots of excellent camera work here, I think you are improving with every post :-)

  3. ShySongbird ,
    Like Warren , I would be well happy with 'butterflies in the snow' . Well done with your second purple of the year .
    Very nice Odonata shots , and you chose well with your Sthn.Hawker ID , an immature male .
    A couple of my favourite wild flowers amongst your collage .
    Would love to know what the MW on the right said to the one on top , it certainly got it excited .
    Would agree with your B/bee ID .
    Moat enjoyable post .

  4. Jan, are you a Purple Hairstreak follower, I have never seen one, yet you did, fantastic. The rest are so beautiful, you are a genius.

  5. Uwielbiam Twoje wycieczki w poszukiwaniu pięknych i ciekawych owadów, a przy okazji można zobaczyć polne kwiaty. Dla mnie wszystkie motyle są piękne, ważki i ćmy im dorównują, Wspaniałe obserwacje i piękne zdjęcia. Pozdrawiam cieplutko.
    I love your trip in search of beautiful and interesting insects, and by the way, you can see wildflowers. For me, all are beautiful butterflies, dragonflies and moths they are equal, Great observations and beautiful photos. Regards warm.

  6. A cracking shot of the Large Skipper, Jan - a real beauty!
    Like you, I haven't seen anywhere near so many Banded Demoiselles about this year. That said, your post shows me a lot else I haven't seen this year - what a stunning collection!

  7. Hello dear, what a wonderfull photographies. I,d like to know doing photos like yours. I ever am limited with my painting because I have little photos and a little bad. Congratulations

  8. You take the sexiest butterfly shots:) They've been a favorite of mine lately as well. SO MANY!!! Your several shots of the white butterfly are really wonderful with the wing action.

    I've seen the Comma in Wisconsin and got a shot of it. I remember this one because of the name and unique wing structure. I also discovered another called the Question Mark. Such funny names:)

    Your pictures are always beautiful captures from your area and I'm glad you were able to get out between the nasty rain events in your country. I know it's been trying for a lot of you. All my best. Chris

  9. Lovely post Jan with beautiful photos and verse.

    Well done on the Purple Hairstreak - another purple butterfly I've never seen!

    I love the flower collage - so many lovely species there :) and the beetles are amazing!

    I've hardly seen any commas this year - in fact the number of butterfly species I've seen is the worst ever in a year. Sadly, still haven't found the time to go to looking for Marbled Whites :( but its great to see some in your photos :) Look forward to the next post.

  10. What a lovely collection of butterflies, dragonflies and insects. They are are beautifully captured. I am glad the rain has let up some for you to get out and enjoy these beauties. Not to mention the fantastic photos. The Six-spot moth is very pretty and one of my favorites. I would not mind seeing butterflies at Christmas time. Great post and awesome photos. Wishing you a great week ahead.

  11. Reading your post is like going on a nature hike with a knowledgeable guide. Delightful AND enlightening. Thank you for the walk.

  12. This post was a thrill to "stroll" through! YOU've found some beautiful bits of nature to share...anc you've captured them in great light and with sharp focus! The flowers are just as remarkable!!! I think Butterflies at Christmas would be kind of neat!

  13. Hi Jan.... Splendid group of photo's,..real beauties every one!!
    I have to say I really like the first one of the Marbled White doing its Elvis impression ; } lol!!
    I have been trying to enjoy the beauty of nature, but it has been so blooming hot, then thunderstorm with downpours of was the first day in weeks that I was able to enjoy the day!!

  14. Excellent selection again Jan.
    Great to find the Purple Hairstreak; another that's eluded me.
    I've noticed the Six Spot more, just recently too.

  15. A beautiful post with wonderful pictures and well-chosen verses.
    "A forest is like an ocean; monotonous only to the ignorant" - Benjamin Disraeli.

  16. An interesting post again with stunning photos throughout. The Purple Hairstreak in particular is superb, while I also enjoyed your Marbled Whites and Dragonflies. I look forward to your next post :-)


  17. Your photos are all so beautiful, I can't decide which is my favorite. I love all the damselflies, which you have captured so well, but I have to admit I'm intrigued by the Hogweed Bonking Beetles. I have never heard of these, but I won't forget them now...what a name:)

    We have had an abundance of butterflies lately, which makes me happy. I took some photos of them the other day, but I spent half my time chasing around an unusual swallowtail and never did get a photo of him.

    I won't mind a bit looking at butterflies in December:)

  18. TexWisGirl

    Thank you Theresa :-)

    Warren Baker

    Thanks Warren, I keep trying :-)


    Thank you Greenie, I was relying on you to come to my aid and I'm really pleased I was correct with the bee ID and that I was right about the immature dragon. You have now left me dying to know which of my flowers are the couple which are favourites of yours :-)

    Bob Bushell

    Thank you Bob, you are too kind :-) I had never seen a Purple Hairstreak before but will be looking for them every year now!

  19. Giga

    Thank you Giga. I am very pleased you enjoyed my post and photos.
    Dziękujemy Giga. Jestem bardzo zadowolony, że cieszył mój post i zdjęcia.


    Thank you for your generous comment Rob. I have still only seen the one Banded and worryingly, no Beautiful Demoiselle!

    Eva dē duenas

    Thank you for your lovely comment. I don't think you have anything at all to worry about, your paintings are absolutely beautiful! I wish I had your talent!


    Thank you Chris, so kind :-) I do love butterflies, as much as birds really and it is such a shame we don't see them in the Winter here. When the Comma rests with wings closed you can often see it has a comma shaped mark on the wing. We don't have the Question Mark here but I assume it is named for the same reason...there really should be an Exclamation Mark butterfly somewhere in the world too :-)

  20. Well Jan, what can I say that hasn't already been said?
    A wonderful post to read and view once again from you!
    Your images epitomise a typical British Summer, who would have thought we had had a washout summer?
    Thank you for sharing your delightful Nature sightings!

  21. Excellent post Jan, a great set of images.

    You know, we always complain about our weather it's either too hot, too cold, too wet or windy, but without fail nature takes it on the chin and produces a vast array of colourful marvels to brighten up the dullest of days, and you've captured it perfectly in this post, the only thing wrong is that you caught a Purple Hairstreak and I didn't![;o)

  22. ShySongbird ,
    The Ragged Robin and the Common Centaury are among my favourites .
    Forgot to mention your beautiful countryside shot . Just a shame the farmer had decorated it with his 'best friend' - baling twine , and orange at that , rather than moving the catch .

  23. Love the upside down Purple Hairstreak Jan! Very nice! It has been encouraging to see fairly healthy numbers of insects over the past week or so, this better weather is long overdue! Hopefully they will make the most of it and breed successfully!
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  24. Some absolutely wonderful images Jan and a great mix too, I'm waiting for my first Purple Hairstreak this year, hopefully soon.

  25. Ragged Robin

    Thank you Caroline. I was really pleased to see the Purple Hairstreak. I went back the next week and saw some more but still couldn't get one with open wings.
    I thought you might like the flowers especially your blog name's namesake :-)
    I hope, with the slightly better weather, we will all see a few more butterflies now...and many more next year!


    Thank you Eileen. It has been a pleasure to have at least a few sunny days recently, it really has been an appalling year. The Burnet moths are very striking, I always look forward to seeing them.
    Hope you have a lovely week too :-)


    Thank you for your lovely comment Barbara...and thank you for accompanying me on my walks :-)


    Thank you Sondra. Good light makes such a difference to photography but unfortunately it is something we don't get enough of in this country. You are so lucky with that but then I know I couldn't stand your very high temperatures :-)

  26. Lots of lovely images Jan, the collage is really nice.

  27. A fantastic series of shots! Loved seeing the Marbled Whites and the other butterflies. Although I see damselflies in my area, I have never come across demoiselles. They are very pretty indeed!! The Burnet moth is striking. I also liked seeing the different blooms in your collage.

  28. grammie g

    Thank you Grace. Sorry to hear it has still been very hot there but glad you have had some relief at last. I know I couldn't stand your temperatures especially if it is humid.
    Haha, you made me laugh about the Elvis impression :-)


    Thank you Keith. I was really pleased to find the Purple Hairstreak. Have a good look around any Oak trees you never know, you might be lucky!

    John "By Stargoose and Hanglands"

    Thank you John and for the very profound Disraeli quote too :-)


    Thank you David, It would have been nice to get a photo of the PH with wings open but beggars/bloggers can't be choosers, I suppose :-)

  29. What a colourful post.. So much light and colours... Congrats!

  30. Rose

    Thank you Rose. Those beetles certainly live up to their name! ;-)
    I would love to have seen you chasing that Swallowtail. You do have some beautiful butterflies there, I will look forward to seeing some on your blog soon :-)


    Thank you Pam. I was thinking the other day that all the sunny photos on the UK blogs make it look like our Summer has been much better than it really has but then I don't suppose anyone wants to look at pictures of rain ;-)

    The Herald

    Thank you Trevor. Yes, you're quite right Nature is very resilient...thank goodness! I had to smile at your last sentence :-)


    Thank you for coming back and putting me out of my misery Greenie, I was dying to know ;-) They are both lovely flowers. I don't actually see Common Centaury very often in my area so it is always a pleasure when I do.
    I agree, the farmers do like their baling twine and it's always in quite lurid colours!


  31. Beautiful blog with a variance of differences critters. There is a butterfly that I really do not know the Purple Hairstreak Butterfly. I can therefore really geneiten.

    Greetings, Helma

  32. Another beautiful and varied post. I do so enjoy the poetry that you put in.

  33. John

    Thank you John, We certainly have waited a very long time for Summer, what a shame it's almost over before it really began. It will be interesting to see how much it has affected the insects next year. Let's hope next Spring and Summer is much better :-)

    Alan Pavey

    Thank you Alan. I hope you get your Purple Hairstreak soon and that you get some decent weather to look for it....a good, prolonged spell of decent weather is what we all need for the next few months :-)


    Thank you Roy :-)

    Nature Rambles

    Thank you Kanak. Damselflies are pretty, so fragile looking though. It was a pity, really that I didn't have the space to picture the flowers individually they are all very attractive. Maybe I can work one or two in on future posts :-)

  34. A very nice summery post Jan. I really like the upside down Purple Hairstreak, i've only found one this year. Also like the 4 Spotted Chaser, the Southern Hawker being another species which has eluded me.
    As for Bumble bees, I find them impossible to get right, thank goodness for Greenie, he has his uses!

  35. What a great selection of inverts and flora Jan. I love the first Purple hairstreak photop...absolutely stunning. I've still not managed to get a photo of one that I'm happy with!

  36. Lovely photos. Your photo of a Comma came just as I had seen one in my garden. Saved me from searching the internet trying to identify it. Good timing, thanks.

  37. Chris

    Thank you Chris :-)


    Welcome Helma! Thank you very much for visiting and for your kind comments. I'm glad you liked seeing the Purple Hairstreak butterfly.
    Welkom Helma! Hartelijk dank voor uw bezoek en voor uw vriendelijke reacties. Ik ben blij dat je het leuk vond het zien van de Purple Hairstreak vlinder.


    Thank you. So nice of you to mention the poetry. I do worry that it puts some people off but I feel the blog wouldn't be the same without it after all this time :-)


    Thank you Phil. I agree, bees are a nightmare to ID, at least I got it right this time though. Yes, good old Greenie :-)

    Jason K

    Thanks very much Jason :-) I'm glad I put that photo on now, I wasn't going to! I found it really difficult to get decent photos of it and wasn't too happy with any of them.

  38. Dear Jan who sings in the sunshine,
    Oh Joy! I love seeing your butterflies. Knowing they are re-bounding after such a dry spring and a wet summer is encouraging. Thank you!
    I love love love your photograph of the Banded Demoiselle. She reminds me of the Ebony Jewelwings in our country. Of all the bugs the Jewelwings have taken my heart...
    but I do love all the bugs...Miss Bumbles is lovely too....bugs, butterflies, bees and blooms...a perfect post for any time of year...I love your birds too! Day 85 of drought here. We are now in a fire advisory. This too shall pass, while I wait I will delight in your beauties.
    Sherry, who dances with butterflies

  39. Crystal

    Thank you Crystal :-) They're unmistakeable so I'm sure you will know it if you see it again.


    Thank you Sherry...who dances with butterflies :-) Yes, I think our Banded Demoiselle is quite similar to your lovely Ebony Jewelwing as is our Beautiful Demoiselle which I know you would love too.
    I am so sad your severe drought continues and that you have the threat of fires to contend with too, it must end soon I'm sure, it has to!
    Enjoy your sabbatical Sherry...enjoy a quiet and peaceful time :-)

  40. Jan, I stopped by to tell you about a video that I posted on my blog yesterday. It's an Assamese rock number and my younger son plays the drums there. I hope you enjoy watching it.:)

  41. Jan...I had to come back here!! So thrilled to read your comments! Now that Nishant is based in Delhi, he may not be able to play for all the shows with M-Sonic. Although he had done shows in the major cities of India, being with M-Sonic gave him the opportunity to travel abroad. Last year he performed with them in Bangladesh, and towards the end of the year, in Singapore. There,they were guests at Singapore's most luxurious hotel, the Marina Bay Sands.

    In Delhi, he has joined the college music society. He did very well in his school-leaving exam and got a seat in one of India's best colleges, the Hindu College. When he was still in school, my husband took him to Swarnabhoomi, a music school in South India to attend a drum camp. The classes were conducted by the German drummer, Benny Greb. This camp influenced him a great deal and Benny Greb will remain an eternal favourite. When he's not busy with his studies, he watches drum videos and tries out all the tricks that his hands can possibly manage. We have a jamming pad at home and that's an added advantage. And of course, every new trick with the drumsticks is first shown to me!:)

    Thank you once again...for finding out the details about him...and for all your good wishes!


  42. Nature Rambles

    Thanks so much for the extra information Kanak. What an interesting and talented young man he is and how lovely that your husband, who I remember is also very musical, has encouraged him so positively. It sounds like Nishant is certainly making the most of his opportunities and he has such a lot to look forward to in life. I am very impressed that he is keeping his feet on the ground and persevering with his studies and I look forward to the day when I can tell people that the famous musician on the TV is the son of my friend Kanak :-)

  43. These are fantastic Jan,the best collection of Butterflies I've seen this year,we have had a poor year down in Cornwall,also i would like to thank you for your comments on our Blog,last year in Ethiopia Sue had a fall,which gave her discomfort from time to time,then afew weeks ago,her back gave out,after many
    visits to the Osteopath,Sue is now on the road to recovery.

  44. Absolutely beautiful pictures.

  45. Hi Jan seemed to have missed this post, and my you have been a busy little bee with all those images.
    Hard to pick a favourite, but I think the Southern Hawker just pips it for me.
    Lovely post, Great images.

  46. Hi Jan
    What beautiful pictures! I love the Large Skipper Butterfly's glossy eye, the Marbled White Butterflies that I've never seen before, and the delicate wings of the Damsonfly and Four Spotted Chaser. What a beautiful post!
    I read (and was very upset by) an article last week about the lack of flowers in this damp summer, and the possibility that many bees may starve. Can wild bees be fed with honey to give them a helping hand? I tried to look it up but got lost in beekeepers' forums. Any ideas?

  47. A brilliant variety of insect life there Jan. Larger ones are few and far between here - plenty of house flies though.

  48. Beautiful selection of pictures!
    Have a nice weekend
    Yvonne & Raphael

  49. Hello ShySongbird
    Having been away for several weeks, I've missed some of your posts, but hope to catch up, starting with this delightful post.
    I haven't seen a Marbled White all summer, and your photos are specacular with lots of wing action. Good shot of the Four Spotted Chaser, and the Damselflies, not to mention the Six-spot Burnet Moth and the Purple-Hairstreak which I have never seen.Great finds!!

  50. JRandSue

    Thank you John, It really hasn't been a good year for butterflies here either, most noticeably the Common Blue which has sadly been very scarce.
    Sorry to hear about Sue, that sounds very unpleasant. I know how excruciating back pain can be. I hope she will soon be fully recovered.


    Thank you very much :-)


    Thank you Monty :-) I was pleased to see the Southern Hawker, I haven't managed to get many dragons on camera this year.


    Thank you Dan, you're too kind :-) As far as I know it isn't advisable to give bees honey as it is processed and will contain impurities. I know bee keepers will feed sugar water in certain circumstances but it has to be in specific proportions and a particular type of sugar so it's probably not advisable for us amateurs.
    Strangely, I read that it has been a really good year for wildflowers! In the long term of course the best thing to help them is to grow native flowers and not to use pesticides which I read is the biggest threat. Sorry not to be more helpful, maybe Cheryl might know more :-)

  51. A most delightful post filled with gorgeous insect and wildflower photographs, interesting information and lovely verse. Your beautiful posts always bring a bright smile to my face. I love the colors and markings on the Southern Hawker Dragonfly. I am fortunate to see Comma Butterflies in our area. Your photograph of it is stunning! Very cool looking Six-spot Burnet Moth. Such a great variety of beautiful insects you have seen this summer. A pleasure to visit your wonderful blog!

    Also, an appreciative thank you for the kind remarks you left on my recent blog post.

  52. It's nice to see so many butterflies. I haven't seen so many this summer because of all the wet wheather, but over the last week there have been lots more about. I saw lots of lovely Speckled Woods at Anderton Nature Park this weekend. From Findlay

  53. Apologies for the late replies!

    Midmarsh John

    Thank you John, Always plenty of house flies about :-)

    -Yvonaut-Das sind Raphael und Yvonne

    Thank you, hope you are having a good week -:)


    Thank you and welcome back after your Summer break. I hope the commission went well! Despite the truly appalling weather we have had the Marbled Whites seem to have been everywhere :-)

    Julie G

    Thank you for your sweet comments Julie, you are too kind :-) It is nice to think we both have the Comma butterfly in common across all the miles.
    I am still thinking of you at this difficult time...

    Findlay Wilde

    Welcome Findlay! Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. It sounds like you have done better than me with Speckled Woods, I have only seen three or four all year!!!
    I will be over to visit your blog very soon :-)

  54. A lovely collection Jan. A reminder of a lost summer.

  55. Lord Moore

    Thank you Trevor...or perhaps I should say your Lordship :-) Lovely to see you here again, I hope all is well with you and yours.
    Yes, the Summer that never was, unfortunately.

  56. Thanks for such delights! As always a wonderful mix of images and words Jan!

  57. Jerry

    Thank you very much for your kind comment Jerry :-)

  58. What beautiful photos! My 9 year old was asking me about some beetles we spotted on a walk earlier in the summer. Thank you for educating me...I now know that they are Hogweed Bonking Beetles. I shall tell her the Latin name, I think!

  59. carpe diem

    Welcome! Thank you very much for visiting, commenting and following :-)

    The Gardening Shoe

    Thank you for your kind comment :-) Yes, I think the Latin name might be safest and should avoid any awkward questions!! ;-)

  60. A first class showing of nature at its best. Just amazing photography and lovely presentation! All things bright and beautiful... :)

  61. city

    Welcome and thank you.


    Thank you for your lovely comment Glo :-)

  62. Hello ShySongbird,

    you do not really sorry to hear zeeggen, because I understand very well that it is sometimes very difficult to keep everything. I did myself. I think it's very sweet of you to respond.

    My pneumonia is still Neit all over but I have no fever. Sorry to read that your job even also have been included in eht hospital for pneumonia.

    The dragonflies are sometimes difficult to distinguish from each other but I find them fun to shoot. Thank you for your lovely comment.

    Kind regards, Helma

  63. Helma

    Apologies for the very late reply and a big thank you for your lovely comment :-) I hope you will be fully recovered from the pneumonia very soon, it does take a while though!


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