Friday, 29 August 2014

Autumn Butterflies And Ted Receives A Text

Teddy got a text message today. He often gets messages and emails from his doggy cousins (Dougal and Dylan) telling him about their day, and he sometimes gets them from his doggy pals Oscar and Lucie, and occasionally he gets one from Coco, his horse-cousin, but this morning's message came from someone who doesn't fall into either the family or friends bracket, and as such I am pretty sure it is a first.

It came through on my mobile (Ted not having his own phone yet), but it was addressed to him: "Ted it's time to visit the vets for a vaccination and health check! Book an appointment now," and it gave the telephone number. I am wondering whether the exclamation mark after the health check was designed to make dogs feel excited and encouraged about the prospect of a trip to the V.E.T.? Ted generally looks forward to everything in life (not quite on a Poppy level because that would be hard for anyone to replicate), but I suspect even he would put a visit to the dog doctor quite low down on his 'things to get excited about' list. He's never fooled by the biscuit they give him afterward either. He usually accepts it (being a polite sort of chap) then very pointedly puts it down on the bench, sniffs it, stares at it for a moment before finally looking solemnly up at them as if to say you can't bribe me with a biscuit, you know.


He's booked in for next Monday, which means he gets to go in with his little sister who yesterday came hurtling into the room chasing Ted, skidded round the corner on two paws and crashed into her crate. Sigh. At least the pyjamas are staying on and I don't think she's scratched the stitches since Monday. I feel I should make a chart like we used to when the kids were little and pin it to the fridge, crossing off the days till we can be back to normal.

I took L and his mate Will butterfly surveying today. Despite dire predictions of doom as we drove there they loved it, largely because I left them climbing trees and making dens in the wood instead of forcing them to come and count colourful flying people with me. That way everyone was happy. When I got back it was to discover Will up a tree while L sat beneath it whittling a sharp stick and trying to smoke a reed he'd cut from the hedge. Apparently it tasted disgusting. A mix of simple childhood pleasures and teenage rebellion.

Surprisingly, there were quite a few insects about. As well as the flutters, I was pleased to see this Rather Splendid hoverfly, one of the Volucellas, most likely inanis. It's a parasite of wasp larvae, including hornets....


There were several Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta) a migrant species who often has a surge in September when they can be seen slightly inebriated imbibing from fallen apples.....



Unexpected was this stunning Comma (Polygonia c-album), which a hundred years ago was considered a rarity. They are one of the few British flutters that hibernate as adults and therefore are one of the earliest flutters to emerge in the spring. 


There were lots of Brimstones (Gonepteryx rhamni), the original 'butter-coloured fly' that gave butterflies their name. This is a single-generation resident that lives for such a long time (comparatively speaking) that adults can be seen on the wing in the UK in almost every month. They hibernate over the winter but warm winter days can bring them out.



Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria) were also abundant. This is a common flutter throughout the UK and is the only British butterfly to hibernate both as a chrysalis and a caterpillar. The adults drink honeydew high up in the tree canopy, but in late August, when they are at their most prolific, they can often be found sunning themselves along the edges of woodland rides and glades which is where I found them this morning.


I found a couple of Green-Veined Whites (Pieris napi). They are one of the world's most successful butterflies and have adapted to suit a range of habitats.


In addition I also found a couple of rarer flutters. This is a male Brown Argus (Aricia agestis), a butterfly of Chalk Downlands who was in trouble until twenty years ago but numbers seem to be recovering and it is slowly spreading northwards....


And this one is a relative of the Brown Argus, the Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus). Occuring in many small colonies throughout the UK, this little flutter is closely monitored because it is a good indicator of biodiversity. Its second and third broods can be badly affected by drought, which reduces numbers for the following year.


I saw some other lovely things after I'd finished the survey, collected the boys, removed the inventive ciggy from the chops of my youngest and herded them back through the woods. I found a huge Red-Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius). This must be a queen given the size and sadly they die in the Autumn, so she was probably on her last legs.


This Sika (Cervus nippon) was interested in us...


Spindle (Euonymus europaea) berries are on the bough, a sure sign of Autumn's approach....


And this tree fungus was growing out of a dead tree near the top of the wood....


I'll leave you with a shot of one of our Robins. He and another one were having a terrible fight in the hedge this morning, proper tooth and claw stuff (well, beak and claw). One was hanging upside down and the other was stuck to him like glue and the pair of them were making a right old racket. No real harm was done, just ruffled pride. He's been sitting in the tree surveying his territory ever since. The Victor, clearly.



Have a peaceful evening all. I'm off to start packing up L's old bedroom in preparation for him moving into his new one. Something of a Rite Of Passage now he is a teen, away from a little lad's room stuffed with lego and toy cars and remote control helicopters, into something a bit more sophisticated. It feels right.

CT :-)

14 comments:

  1. Ted looks sooo cute sat there... Another of great collection of Butterflies, beautifully photographed. We had our first Robin back in the garden this week as well as a family of six Blue Tits, they come very early to feed.
    Weather not looking to good this weekend, so what every you are doing have fun.
    Amanda xx

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    1. He is a sweetheart, is our Teddy :-) Thanks re the photos- I was pleased with them. I've noticed the birds returning and becoming more present in the garden here too just as the insects start to decline. Always something interesting to look at :-) Hope college return went OK. Forecast not too bad here- off bat surveying tonight again. Have a great weekend yourself xx

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  2. Oh bad luck Ted. I get texts like that from the dentist. :(

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  3. I love your description of the way that Teddy declines the biscuit! So polite and yet making his point. Most dogs would eat it anyway! xx

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    1. He is very sweet about V.E.T. visits generally, but I know he doesn't much like them! x

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  4. Ted I believe you are a social sensation soon worthy of your own phone :)
    Clapping wildly over the Sika (that would have scared him away though wouldn't it) .

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    1. Hee hee, Teddy with his own mobile would be something to write about! Yes, beautiful Sika boy, he stood and watched us for ages :-)

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  5. We saw a huge red tailed bumble in our garden the other day. She was a beauty. I tried smoking tea bags once.
    Leanne xx

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    1. I tried Nicotiana, figuring it was a Tobacco plant so should be fine. It wasn't. xx

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  6. I saw that hoverfly (or similar) yesterday! First time too. You are having a great butterfly year and the photos are wonderful. Good luck to Ted. :-)

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    1. A few more surveys still to do -at present the sun has returned so should be good news for the flutters :-)

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  7. Great butterfly images - you are having a real good year with all your sightings :) re: previous post - well done on the Balsam Carpet. Mothing very quiet here - mainly numerous Yellow Underwing species and Flounced Rustics :( Good Luck at the vets tomorrow!

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    1. Lots of Yellow Underwings here too :-) V pleased with Balsam Carpet- hoping for some more new ones this week. Hope your catches improve with the warmer weather x

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