Wildlife Wednesday  – Butterfly Blitz

I had only intended to post a single photo today, since we are on holiday, but it is raining hard and is forecast to do so all day. So I thought that reviewing last month’s wildlife would be a more cheerful activity than watching the puddles vibrate from the falling drops. I am new to iPad editing though and am finding it beyond frustrating compared to working on my laptop, so apologies for any odd formatting etc. you find in his post.

July was a good month for butterflies, so I’ll start with this ‘spot’ of a Dark Green Fritillary, which was very pleasing because it was completely new to me. When I first noticed the butterfly on a stand of greater knapweed on Therfield Heath, all that I knew was that it was a fritillary butterfly. Later, at home, I identified it as a Dark Green Fritillary, but I wasn’t certain. So I posted some photos on the ISpot website (an Open University learning resource) to ask for confirmation. Happily a number of agreements came in. This fritillary has a wide spread distribution in the UK, but it has seen big loses in a number of regions. It has been recorded on Therfield Common, feeding on thistles and knapweed.

In fact, I was on the Heath looking for Chalk Hill Blue butterflies. In season they flit across the grassland in their hundreds, but I never seem to time my visits to coincide with this peak. I did see enough to satisfy the walk’s purpose though.

Chalk Hill Blue butterfly on kidney vetch

Chalk Hill Blues are very similar to Common Blues, but they aren’t nearly as intensely blue. Here is a male Chalk Hill Blue with its wings open:

Compared to a Common Blue:

A Common Blue in our garden.

In our garden, the grassy meadow patch has been attracting lots of brown butterflies: Ringlets, meadow browns, gatekeepers and brown argus (prettier than it sounds).

Brown Argus butterfly

I’ve been joining in with the Big Butterfly count (ending this coming weekend). I’ve been able to add a good number of gatekeeper sightings (which were down last year apparently), because they congregrate on some ragwort in the meadow. One of the photographs I took included a different butterfly I’d not seen before. This turned out to be a Small Copper, which is common enough, but is again new to me. It has cute short tails on it hind wings.

Small Copper butterfly

The hot, dry days of July encouraged our resident grass snakes out in the open. Since we don’t see them around very often I typically jump out of my skin when I do see them. It’s not that they move suddenly of course, but more the way you gradually realise that a section of the ground is moving sideways …  quickly. 

The snakes tend to bask near the compost heap, but they can appear anywhere. A couple of weeks back they apparently made it to the alley beside the house where they scared a lady walking her dogs. During the very hottest days you can catch them in our small garden pond, terrorising the frogs.

Grass snake in the pond

And here is a worried frog:

Worried frog watching for the grass snake

We don’t usually see the frogs in the pond, but while the snake was around they were appearing all over the place!

Eventually, it slid into the ferns. 

I garden very carefully around here!

In the last couple of weeks the pennisetum macrourum clumps around the fish pond have become a favoured perch for a bright red Ruddy darter. This is a male, with brilliant scarlet colouring and a very pronounced waist. The female is a much plainer olive  colour. This species likes weedy ditches and, apparently, our pond.

Male Ruddy Darter

A final new visitor to the garden for this month’s post has been making the most of the multiple ant-hills that have been appearing in the lawn during the hot weather. This fledgling greater-spotted woodpecker spent half an hour hopping around the grass, eating ants from the soft, wet soil.

Fledgling greater-spotted woodpecker with mud on its beak

Adult colours are beginning to overwhelm the young bird’s chequered plumage, making a wonderfully attractive woven patterning.

Well it is still chucking it down, but I’ve reached the end of my photos, so I’ll stop here. 

Happy wildlife watching!
To see more wildlife spots from around the globe, please take a look at Tina’s monthly meme.


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in Nature, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Wildlife Wednesday  – Butterfly Blitz

  1. Fascinating. Thank you for getting to grips with the iPad.

  2. You are blessed with so much beautiful wild life. You have Captured them so well. 🤗

  3. You are blessed with so much beautiful wild life. You have photographed them so well. 🤗

  4. Tina says:

    Wow! Such great shots and gorgeous subjects. Your Ruddy Darter looks like my Neon Skimmer and your butterflies, so beautiful. Love the snake, sympathize with the frog. 🙂 Wonderful post, thanks for joining in!

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    Great images, Allison. I wish I had the patience to stalk butterflies. I really should try slowing down to do it some afternoon.
    Enjoy the rest of your holiday– I hope the rain stops!

    • Well it rained on and off until the end, but home is proving no better. We did have a great time though and the coast is wonderful in Dorset. Plus I can spend hours looking at rocks, search for fossils etc., in any weather!

  6. Anita says:

    Gorgeous photos! Well done!

  7. Shirley says:

    Beautiful butterflies especially the blue one. Your snake was a surprise since I don’t think I’ve seen one featured on a UK blog before. Silly woodpecker, but so smart to take advantage of the wet ground.

    • Blue butterflies are my favourites too (from way back in my childhood when I discovered a bank covered in them at my Gran’s). There aren’t too many reptiles in the UK and the grass snake is harmless. We are lucky that they breed in our compost and I add sticks to it to keep a fairly open structure, which apparently they like.

  8. What a fascinating post, Allison and superlatively beautiful photographs. They like rather well fed grass snakes (poor frogs!).

    • I couldn’t believe how many frogs suddenly appeared when the snake was about and it would have been interesting to know if the snake caught any. I think that the frogs survived that day, because I disturbed the snake.

  9. Brian Skeys says:

    You have a wonderful range of wildlife around you. iPad editing is not as easy as on the laptop!

    • Yes, it seemed to be clunky to work with pictures and select text on the iPad. Ah well, I learnt new things! We are lucky with the range of wildlife we see, because we back on to fields and have the river near by.

  10. Sue says:

    Beautiful photos of the butterflies and great to see a young woodpecker. Funny how we’re on opposite sides of the globe but in July we both spotted butterflies and snakes!

  11. You have some lovely butterflies! I’m especially taken with the Common Blue and the Brown Argus. Not sure how I feel about the snake, though I suppose they have a place in the scheme of things.

  12. I do like the sound of your relaxed wildlife-friendly style of gardening. I envy you your open fields at the back and that nearby river. Butterflies are such a beautiful ‘extra’ in a garden of flowers. I wish we had more of them here. Thank you for your fine photos of these restless beauties.

    • Thanks you Richard. The best thing about the fields immediately behind us is that they aren’t intensively farmed. Think I’d hate having machines around us regularly, where as sheep are therapeutic!

  13. birdlady612 says:

    Awesome pictures! I have the hardest time photographing butterflies.. They don’t land long enough for me to get a photo. 🙋🐦

  14. ocelotstudio says:

    Grass snakes! ❤ And that is one gorgeous fritillary photo.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s