Monday, 2 June 2014

Brown Argus Butterfly, Newts Arrive In The Pond & Our Robin Eats My Moths!!!!!

So, on Sunday I saw my first Newt in our pond, which is just about to celebrate its First Birthday. I've been waiting for a newt for ages, so when it turned up I did my Newt Celebration Dance (which I had been practicing for just such a moment). L ran for cover and M grinned indulgently at me like I was some kind of pitiable idiot.

I can't be certain, because it hasn't yet deigned to show me its chin (which would be diagnostic, depending on the presence or otherwise of spots) but I am fairly certain it's a Smooth (or common) Newt, rather than a Palmate. Either would be fab, I'm not choosy: I am just over-the-moon that we have A Newt. Full Stop (although two newts would obviously be even better).....

This level of enthusiasm is not remotely shared by my family who, while pleased that a newt has moved in, do not understand my tiggerish-happiness at events like this. They exhibit a similar lack of willingness to leap about excitedly whenever I mention going Hunting For Butterflies, and so I went by myself on Sunday afternoon in what (for England) turned out to be blistering heat. I got burnt on my shoulders (cue near-panic from J who frets terribly about skin cancer) but that didn't matter, because I saw my first-ever Brown Argus butterfly and managed to get a picture too.... This is a male, judging by the number of orange spots.....Lovely, don't you think?

The Brown Argus is actually a type of Blue butterfly (just to confuse things), which is more apparent when the wings are closed when it very closely resembles the Common Blue. Although you can just about make out a Blue Dusting on the left top wing in the shot above.

It was a Good Day for flutters on the whole, the sun being out and the wind being non-existent, which is what they generally like. While out I also saw....

A Female Brimstone nectaring on some Ragged Robin

Common Blue

Male Orange Tip

Small Blue laying eggs on kidney vetch (the sole food plant for the pillars)
Common Blue at rest on some grass

Male Small Blue (note the dusting of blue scales on the wing, which the female doesn't have)

Small Blue at rest
Below is a shot of the habitat which was created two years ago from improved sheep pasture. The topsoil was scraped back to leave a chalk-rich environment which has naturally low nutrient levels (as loved by wild flowers). It now has an abundance of plant species such as ox-eye daisy, kidney and horseshoe vetch, white clover, ragged robin, ribwort plantain and self-heal, as well as a large variety of grasses, all of which are beloved of the various species of butterfly who call it home......Just shows how important habitat is....

The Meadow

Kidney Vetch

Horseshoe Vetch

The Meadow


White Clover

Ribwort Plantain
It isn't just butterflies that have benefited from the changes made on this strip of land. The whole area is absolutely buzzing with bees, such as this Red-Tailed Bumble who graciously posed for a few shots....

And this Plume Moth who fluttered down and landed more or less at my feet while I was thinking about taking another bee pic. I have been trying to work out which sort he/she is, but Plumes are a bit of a mine-field. If anyone knows please shout.....

Plume Moth

Back at home and Biodiversity is also Going Well, judging from the number of moths who've been visiting the Moth Box. 

The year's first Buff Ermine, Creamy Cousin to the White (watch out for this one in the next quiz!)

Pale-Shouldered Brocade, cousin of the Light Brocade we've seen before

Both types of Peppered- Darwin would be pleased

My Robin (who has children in the wisteria in the apartment above the Pigeon's Flat, which is just down from our bedroom window. The Pigeon's Flat is Very Noisy because as large birds they have a habit of Flapping About With No Consideration At All For The Neighbours when they come in and out through their front door- Lord Knows how the baby Robins feel about this, but then they are noisier than the pigeon smalls who don't breath a word in their nest, so it's all Swings And Roundabouts I suppose), where was I? Oh yes, our Robin has Cunningly learnt to associate me with the Moth Box, and the Moth Box with food...

I rose on Sunday morning (rudely early and somewhat bleary eyed after a Chinese and a bottle of Champers) in a vain attempt to beat him to the box, only to discover the usual casualties of Shredded Wings littering the grass nearby. To add insult to injury, there was even a Robin-Sized-Poo on the lid of the box. I brought the moths in and emptied a few out into plants on the patio, only to see him swoop down and pick them out! 

He must have been watching me :-(

See? That's a MOTH in his beak- caught red-beaked I'd say.

Anyhoo, I have foiled him, by not putting the box out until nightfall after he is tucked up asleep with all those noisy children of his :-)

Except that last night he was sitting silently in the Corkscrew Willow by the back door waiting for me, and as the moths started to wake up and come out of the box, he pounced and got another one :-( :-(

I am torn, because I love my birds and this little Robin is my pal, and is also feeding smalls, which is a Demanding Job as any parent knows and he has my sympathies on that score, seen as I am currently also having to Provide Food For Voraciously Hungry Teenage Boys, but I also love my Moths....

The Long And Short of it is, we have brokered a deal, me and Mr Robin. He has promised NOT to take any more of my moths and I've put an extra coconut half stuffed full of meal worms and fat on the patio table beneath his nest. I hope he will stick to his word....although judging from these pictures it's not looking good, is it?

No prizes for guessing where the Moth Box is in this shot....


Wishing you all a Lovely Evening

CT x


  1. Oh what a joy this blog is, someone on my wavelength for a change.
    I often go into raptures over all sorts of things wild life including the flowers and trees and nobody except Tom (husband) understands me.
    Robins are one of my favourite birds even though they can be little beasts and wild flowers are my delight.
    They have started grazing sheep on the chalklands of our downs to improve the grass for butterflies and wild flowers I'm please to see.
    As for newts, I haven't seen one in years. They used to bask alongside the walls of the streets when I was young but there were proper front gardens then, now decking and bark chippings.
    More please.

    1. That's great news about the sheep on the Downs- you'll get all sorts of flutters up there once the sward height is right for them. Look out for ant hills too- butterflies use them to sunbathe and warm up on, being that little bit elevated from the ground.
      Apart from a couple of weeks back when I was helping out with the college open day, I hadn't seen a newt since I was a little girl either, so it is a REAL joy to have them in our garden. I despair with the decking and sterile lawn revolution that's happened over the last 15 or so years, and I really really hope folk start to think more closely about what that's meant for wildlife and change their gardens back to nature spaces. Thanks so much for all your kind words about the blog- definitely kindred spirits x

  2. I remember the delight when we found newts in our pond too and still nearly 15 years later they are still there. It is always wonderful to see them. The meadows on the Downs look fantastic with all the flowers and butterflies! The robin is very clever to have discovered the moth box! Sarah x

    1. It's so great to know what a real difference garden ponds make to wildlife. I am hoping for many more newts and some frogs. We already have toads and grass snakes :-)

      Yes, NAUGHTY Robin indeed (but very clever) xx

  3. Me again. Did you see the chap that bought a bit of rainforest on the tv last night. It was about the chopping down of the mahogany trees and all the habitiat that is losing its home on just one tree. I couldn't watch it all it was so upsetting. But then I do cry at the drop of a hat. ha ha

    1. I missed that but it would have upset me too. An English Oak supports 400 different species, so lord knows how many a rainforest mahogany is home to. My long-term project here is to buy some ancient woodland.... x

  4. It's very difficult to know what to do sometimes. When you live close to nature you do see it in the raw.
    Great pics of the flutterers.

    1. Luckily, we have a healthy population of moths....for now :-)

  5. Great to know that you have newts! I remember how excited we were when ours first turned up (common newts but not common at all...). Our little pond has silted up with run off from the flooded fields this spring, so I`m not sure it`s deep enough for newts now. It needs a good sorting out in the autumn.

    Your Robin must think you are the kindest landlady to actually catch his moths for him AND buy mealworms :-)

    I love your butterfly photos. The Brown Argus is a beauty.

    1. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for more newts now.... :-)

      The Robin was perched on the moth box this morning, so my ploy of leaving him extra mealworms has fallen flat :-(

      Hoping to see more flutters as the year progresses, so far it's been a good one for them.

  6. Great wild flower meadow, and beautiful photos of the butterflies, I was sat in a meadow on Sunday too, managed to find a good patch of vetch , no blue. Found a blue lacewing ( see blog) you could sit in the meadow all day...great news about the newt, it's a hard decision to make..Robin or Moths...
    We had a Hedgehog in the garden last night, did a little dance ! Well we have enough slugs here...!
    Amanda xx

    1. A Hedgehog- now I am VERY jealous! I would have danced too :-) Don't think we get them here and I'm not sure why. x

  7. What a beautiful wildflower meadow - lovely photos of the butterflies,moths and flowers. Well done on the Brown Argus sighting and the newt arrival :)

    I've had huge problems here with the moth trap and robin in past years. I've had to move the trap into the garage to empty it. He/she doesn't seem to have cottoned on yet this year possibly due to the few moths I'm getting or there again perhaps there are few moths because he/she has already eaten them!!!

    1. It is a gorgeous place- I love going there and listening to the bees and seeing all the flutters and flowers :-)

      Robins are just super smart aren't they? You appreciate it all the more because the other garden birds take virtually no notice (except for maybe the Blackbirds). :-)

  8. Oh dear, it seems that Mr Robin is in big trouble!!! I hope that his behaviour improves very soon! xx

    1. It hasn't, but I do love him so I'm making allowances.... :-) xx


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x