The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!

Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.



Saturday, 12 April 2014

All the right signs

The weather here has been a little disappointing recently. Nothing unusual, but I am always impatient at this time of year, because as soon as it warms up I know we will see more butterflies.
The Butterfly Transect Surveys are meant to start the first week of April, but we haven't had good enough weather here yet to make a start. Today I walked my transect route, just in case there were any butterflies there, but I didn't hold out any hope as it was quite cloudy and there was a cold wind at lunch time when I could get out of the office to do it.
Things started off reasonably well with bumble bees feeding in the willow trees. I think this one is a Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

A little later I saw my first Red-tailed Bumblebee of the year.

The clouds kept breaking, revealing large blue patches of sky. As I reached the river I saw a flash of blue as a Kingfisher flew past me. A little further upstream a Heron was looking splendid with its plumage blowing in the wind.

Ladybirds seem to have survived the mild winter in great numbers. The foliage next to the river was littered in them.

As I climbed the fence into a meadow a Peacock butterfly, Aglais io, flew up in front of me. These butterflies over-winter as adults, hibernating in sheds or log piles.  This one seems to have come through the winter in lovely condition.

I noticed some Sand Martins flying over the river. They have spent the winter in Africa, but they spend the summer over here, breeding in sandy river banks. Their arrival is always a sign that the weather is about to improve. As I watched them flying low over the river, catching flies, I noticed that there was a Swallow amongst them. It briefly stopped on a dead tree for a rest.

While I was watching them I heard the squawk of a buzzard and I looked up to see it flying overhead.

Shortly afterwards some grey clouds blew over and I thought that I had no chance of seeing any more butterflies. However, all the signs are there that the weather is about to improve and I shouldn't have too long to wait.

As it turned out, I only had to wait about ten minutes! On my way back to the office I saw a white butterfly flying along the edge of the meadow. I followed it for a while until it stopped, allowing me to identify it. It was a Green-veined White, Pieris napi. The first one I have seen this year. It would have spent the winter as a chrysalis and probably only emerged today.


There were plenty of signs that the weather may be about to improve, so I hope it won't be long until I see several more new species of butterflies for the year.

16 comments:

  1. Yay! That's exciting news. I am so ready for the season. We are also have a late Spring and bad weather, but just yesterday it may have turned as well. So glad you got these two unexpected guys. You've inspired me to get out hunting as well. Looking forward to experiencing your season with you.

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    1. Hi Sylvia,
      I hope you manage to find some butterflies soon. This is such a good time of year!

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  2. Great to hear that Spring is finally around the corner.

    The Green Veined White is a wonderful butterfly.
    I can't wait to see what else you bump into this year.

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    1. Hi Jonny,
      The Green-veined White is probably our most common butterfly, but I really love their markings. If I am lucky I should see 20, maybe 21 different butterfly species around here this year. I may be able to see a couple more species down in the Borders. We are going on holiday to Spain later in the year, so hopefully I may see a few new species there. I hope to visit the Sierra Nevada where there could be some interesting butterflies. My aim this year is to see my 100th species. I am currently on 95!!

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  3. Yes Nick, we are really at the opposite side of the seasons, you are right! Our butterflies arrive mostly in June at the start of our rainy season, but those ladybirds i still see now because they have a lot of food, the mealybugs, haha!

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    1. Hi Andrea,
      I have never seen so many ladybirds. It isn't going to be a good year for the aphids, I think! Actually, I am beginning to wonder if there will be enough food to go around all of the ladybirds!

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  4. Hello Roy,
    I just love your header!
    It is one of my very favorite butterflies!
    I am hoping to see them again soon on the Cuckoo flowers around here!
    Back to your post... quite an array of interesting critters you are showing us!
    I have though a slight doubt about your Buff-tailed Bumblebee...
    The last light ring of its abdomen is orange instead of white; I wonder if it is not a cuckoo of the subgenus Psithyrus... What do you think?
    It is a good thing the ladybugs are in great numbers.
    Lovely shots!
    Keep well!

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  5. Hi Noushka,
    The Orange Tip is certainly my favourite butterfly that occurs here. Not only is it beautiful, but it is often the first species to emerge in the spring. Other species over-winter as adults and make an appearance earlier in the year, but the Orange Tip signifies the true start of the butterfly season for me. I saw my first one this year two days ago. :)
    I am not very good at bee ID! I have had a look at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust's web page, and I don't think it quite matches the Cuckoo, but I could be wrong. http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/identification/less-common/ I will need to do some more research.

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  6. Great pictures, Nick! There seems to be an orange-black explosion in your garden, from those bumblebees to the ladybirds to the Peacock butterfly . Very eye-catching!

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    1. Thanks Sunita, This is definitely my favourite time of the year. There is the appearance of so much wildlife, wild flowers and trees coming into leaf, but with the promise of so much more to come.

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  7. Its delightful to see forms of life returning and stirring. The bumblebee is more photogenic than the Carpenter bees in my garden. Its such a furry critter and labouring over the pollens.

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    1. Hi Elsie, Yes it is lovely to see the plants coming back to life and the appearance of butterflies and migratory birds. I am not keen on the winters when the trees are bare. I love this time of year, as it is so full of promise.

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  8. The ladybugs image is brilliant; and so is the bumblebee. Your camera takes great macros; those ladybugs came out amazing! The Peacock butterfly has so much color! Happy Springtime!

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    1. Thanks Maria, I am really enjoying spring!

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  9. Lovely images! I, too, am anxious to see the butterflies. I hope I will see some in a few weeks.

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    1. I am sure they will be back with you soon! I am looking forward to reading about what you see.

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