Moth contact has been fantastic over recent weeks but my interaction with butterflies by comparison has been sadly lacking this year. I decided the only way I was going to see any was to go to our local wildflower meadow up on Broughton Down.
Saturday was Kayaking Day. I remained sensibly on terra firma photographing the hundreds of damselflies who were unashamedly mating all around me, as well as F and M who were deliberately falling out of their kayaks and bobbing about in their life jackets on the lake, and L who was paddling serenely about.
Wild horses wouldn't have dragged me from the house on Sunday afternoon. I have invested a great deal of emotional energy in Andy Murray winning Wimbledon (hooray he did), so that left Sunday morning free for the butterflies.
We went early and tramped the (what feels to me pre-historic) ancient compacted chalk trackway up to the down. I wasn't disappointed: there were lots of butterflies. I saw fritillaries, chalk blues and marbled whites to name but three, but it was so bloomin hot (despite our early start) that none of them were landing and sitting still, so photographic opportunities were limited to say the least.
I did manage (after half an hour of doggedly following various small brightly coloured flapping things around the meadow in an aimless zig-zaggy path that would have done Ted-on-a-scent proud) to get one of a Marbled White at rest...
And a Speckled Wood...
And I just about managed to snap this orchid before it high-tailed it...
Actually, the meadow was stuffed full of orchids, all of them mercifully stationary...
By this time we'd been out on the down for about 45 mins and we were all feeling hot and sweaty. L, who had already laid his cards on the table before we even got in the car to go to the down ("I do NOT want to walk up a steep hill for an hour to look at flowers and things that look like fairies. I am NOT a six year old girl. I am a teenager, and what we like is swearing and eating sugar") voted with his feet at this point and headed back down the hill towards the distant car in the now familiar stance of grumpy teen: head down, shoulders hunched, skull candy headphones clamped firmly over ears in order to avoid being able to hear instructions such as "COME BACK!" bellowed at full volume. Ted wasn't doing much to further the "let's photograph butterflies" cause either- he'd super-glued himself to my leg and panted violently at any butterfly that looked like it might come remotely within lens shot.
It was hopeless, so I gave up.
I've decided I prefer moths: they are far more sensible and quite happy to sit still for a photo and have a chat and be generally admired (well, most of them are, especially if they've been fridged for an hour or two before hand).
Sensing my despair, M took me to see the view, which was indeed lovely....
In fact, all the views were lovely. The English Countryside In Summer is indeed a beautiful place.
We headed home and I consoled myself with my moths, who were all sleeping peacefully in the moth box in the shade waiting to astonish me with their variety and beauty. I'm getting some crackers and have now reached over 100 species. I'm going to put a post together this week to showcase the best of them.
The funny part is, that moths are coming into the house all the time now, upstairs and down, regardless of the time of day or whether the box is out. M thinks I have become a "moth magnet" and am communicating with them on an ESP level. I just think my awareness of them is there now in a way that it wasn't before and so we see them more as a result. They are absolute masters at blending in with their background for certain (it's one of the reasons I am full of admiration for them) but once you become aware of the various shapes of moths and their colours you can spot them even when they are doing a great job of hiding in plain sight.
Anyway, we got back from the Disappointing and Silly butterflies, had lunch in the garden and then settled down to watch Andy. I'd made a schoolboy (school girl?) error and had a pint of ale with lunch so fifteen minutes into the match I fell quietly asleep and would have missed the whole thing had M not leapt up off the sofa yelling at some point or other. Luckily, no one noticed and I pretended I'd been awake the whole time, shaking my fist and going "Grrr" which I thought was quite convincing and not bad given I'd been asleep a second before.
The tennis was superb and worthy of a Wimbledon final. A chunk of my family are Wimbledonians, and used to rent out their house to the players for the fortnight (very glamourous I always thought) while an Uncle was for many years a steward there, so I feel a kind of proprietary interest in it (which is ridiculous, but there you go). Imagine how thrilled I was when he actually won! He thoroughly deserved it. Go Andy!
L is not a tennis fan, and spent the duration of the match skyping with his mates in the study. Such unlikely phrases as "it's a shame we can't transmute iridium" and "I need to get to the obsidian generator" punctured the spaces between sets.
M and I stared at each in open mouthed shock.
"He's a genius" I said in awe.
"He's playing Minecraft," said his brother dismissively.
Oh Well. One can live in hope.
This was juxtaposed beautifully later on. F, inspired by the tennis, dreamt up a new form of badminton called "CrotchBall." This involved gaining points for lobbing the shuttle cock at different parts of your opponent's anatomy. Goodness only knows what the neighbours thought as we all yelled out "CrotchBall!" each time we got a point.
"I never expected to be asked how to spell crotch by one of the boys," M mused later that evening as we relaxed by the pond with a glass of wine. "I feel it's marked a whole new stage of parenting."
"I bet Andy Murray would be really proud," I replied. "Just think: his career high of winning Wimbledon has directly inspired a game called CrotchBall."
I'll get off that subject and finish with the Greenfinches' Child who has finally made a proper solo appearance in the garden. Yay! All speckledy like a siskin, he (I think) has the characteristic GF golden yellow band on the wing and is BEAUTIFUL. Dad was feeding him earlier but after lunch he was busy working out the feeders all by himself, which largely involved him landing on top of them and sliding slowly off several times.
Adorable. I am a total sucker for baby birds (and moths).
I also saw the Nuthatch Parent this morning (but no sign of any children yet). He was looking thin, bedraggled and frankly knackered. So unfair, all that hard work and you produce plump fluffy healthy babies and end up looking like a tattybogle in comparison. I do hope after all this effort they bring their Children into the garden.
I'll end with the Chaffinches' Child, who has also made an appearance today (in fact there are two), and was busy getting Dad to do all the hard work for her, even though she is a Big Enough Girl To Be Feeding Herself.....
Hope you all have a good week.