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 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:
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).
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.
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.And here is a worried frog: 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.
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.
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. 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.