Monday, 22 October 2012

Still Catching Up!

'Real life' rearing its troublesome head has left me with little time or enthusiasm for blogging recently but in an effort to get back to some sort of more regular posting I am aiming to publish a series of catch up posts in an attempt to get through a backlog of photos, some dating back to August, I hope that won't be too boring! This post and probably the next will still be concentrating mainly on invertebrates simply because that is what occupied me on outings the most during our (so called!) Summer but lest anyone should think otherwise, my enthusiasm for birds has not lessened at all and they will feature more strongly in future posts :-) 

My love of butterflies has, in recent years, turned from admiration of their beauty to a deeper interest and desire to actively seek out ones I have never seen before and despite the mainly awful weather we have had in the last few months I have been fortunate to see several this year for the first time. Two of them were shown in earlier posts, the most notable of course was the fantastic Purple Emperor, an amazing and probable once in a lifetime encounter. The Purple Hairstreak was also a first. Another butterfly I very much wanted to find was the Dark Green Fritillary but despite visiting several places where it should apparently have been, including a number of attempts at a location very close to home, I was unlucky this year. However, I was more fortunate in my quest to find the Silver-washed Fritillary but although I saw several on the wing only one posed briefly for the camera and unfortunately what had previously been a sunny afternoon suddenly turned dull and spots of rain were falling as I snatched a very quick photo before it flew off to seek shelter among the trees. Maybe next year I will manage to get a better photo of this striking butterfly.

Silver-washed Fritillary Butterfly

Another butterfly I was pleased to find for the first time this year was the White Admiral, this one, like the Silver-washed Fritillary, looking rather worn at the end of its season.

White Admiral Butterfly

Despite the weather it seems to have been a good year for skipper butterflies, I have certainly seen a lot of Large and Small Skippers (as seen on the previous post) but also some Essex Skippers distinguished from the Small Skipper by the black tip on the underneath of the antennae as shown here.

  Essex Skipper Butterfly

' "Just living is not enough,”
said the butterfly,
“one must have sunshine,
freedom and a little flower." '
(Hans Christian Anderson)

When passing Ragwort plants I always look out for Cinnabar Moth caterpillars but this year they didn't seem anywhere near as plentiful as usual. Ragwort is poisonous to livestock particularly horses and there has been a concerted effort in the UK to control this native plant resulting in a dramatic reduction in the number of Cinnabars. The caterpillars are not affected by the toxins in the plant and indeed store the poison in their bodies which still remains when they become moths. If predators are not deterred by their bold colouring they will very quickly be repelled by the obnoxious taste!

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

I used to think that we in the UK have Grasshoppers while our American friends have Crickets before realising that we have them both here and that the latter can be identified by their much longer antennae. In order to show them more closely I have 'cropped' the antennae on both the photos of crickets below.

Dark Bush-Cricket

There was a little sunshine on the day I saw the next one!

 Roesel's Bush-Cricket

'Twas sweet to see the tiny things,
So bright of garb and so small of size,
But howsoever that might be
Each seemed of perfect symmetry.'
(Thomas Jeffrey Llewelyn Prichard)

 Back to butterflies and all of these I have seen many times before.

Gatekeeper Butterfly

Meadow brown Butterfly

Green-veined White Butterfly

The final butterfly for this post and one of our loveliest I think. 

Peacock Butterfly

'Her slender form, ethereal light,
Her velvet-textured wings unfold:
With all the rainbow's colours bright,
And dropt with spots of burnished gold.'
(William Roscoe)

I always find it difficult to get a photo of a Brown Hawker as they are usually encountered busily patrolling their territory but I did manage to photograph one which was settled and sunning itself on a tree trunk. Not the best of places to show its wings but beggars can't be choosers.

Brown Hawker Dragonfly

 This pretty little damselfly is always a pleasure to find.

Emerald Damselfly

Finally, I will finish as I started (and thank you very much for making it to the end!) with this female Ruddy Darter...I don't think it's a Common Darter? which posed nicely for the camera, it is just a pity that the sun wouldn't pose nicely for so many of these photos...Oh, the joys of living in the UK!

Ruddy Darter Dragonfly (female)

Before I finish, just a quick word to say I have very reluctantly decided to watermark my photographs, not because I think they are worth stealing, I know there are far, far better photos out there than mine and I also realise that once anything is placed on the Internet we, to some extent, surrender ownership but I do think it is worth trying to protect our work and the considerable time and trouble we take to produce it. There are some very unscrupulous people out there and one blogland friend of mine had her entire blog stolen a couple of years ago and passed off by the thief as their own! I recently noticed some slightly odd activity in my blog stats which might be perfectly innocent but I have decided to be safe rather than sorry. I have placed the mark across the middle of the photos, as it would be very easy for someone with ill intent to crop it from the edge but I have tried to make it as unobtrusive as possible.

Again, thank you so much for sticking with me to the end of this rather lengthy post. Until the next time...enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.