Summer is Creeping In!

 

Over the past few weeks, I've been taking a few evening walks on the Local Patch in the evenings after work.  Summer is slowly starting to make an appearance, although the meadow where I walk, is taking a while to get growing and flowering with the stop/start weather we have recently had. The first flowers to bring some colour, were the buttercups, which bloomed (and are still blooming!) in bright swathes and provided food for many bees and the occasional butterfly or moth.  

Through the Buttercups -  both the short and tall varieties grow in the meadow here.


 On one evening walk, I managed to spot a 'first' for me, a Latticed Heath moth, which would rest down in the grasses.  There have been quite a few 'micro-moths' about around many of the patches of nettles too. 

Latticed Heath moth

 

The first signs that things were getting busier has been the reappearance of many insects.  There have been an abundance of scorpion flies, soldier and cardinal beetles flying about, as well as the arrival, low down in the grasses, of numerous spiders.  Hoverflies have also been about as well as huge numbers of craneflies - I have to admit, they rather make me jump when they drift up out of 'nowhere'!

Cardinal beetle balancing on a grass head. 


With the abundance of insects, there has been plenty on the menu for the birds, which have been busy feeding youngsters.  They can mostly be heard from deep within the hawthorn and blackthorn 'hedges' which border the meadow.  I've been hearing Blue, Long and Great tit families and catching glimpses of the Long Taileds flitting along in the trees as they teach the youngsters how to fend for themselves.  

Young Blue Tit out looking for supper. 


Across the meadow, in amongst the buttercups and young thistles, the meadow orchids have put on an abundant and colourful display this year.  When they first flower, they are a rich pink, gradually becoming paler, it does seem to have been a good year for them, with even more appearing as the weeks go by.

Meadow Orchids


 So far this year, apart from the butterflies I saw back in early spring, they have been conspicuous by their absence (I realise this has not been the case for other parts of the country!).  Usually by now, I am seeing more Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells, Large and Small Whites than I have; however, I have seen more Brimstone butterflies than in previous years.  Usually I end up watching, frustrated, as they flutter past in a hurry without settling, however, one evening I was privileged to have this one settle long enough for a close up.

Brimstone butterfly nectaring on Red Campion

A brief glimpse of a Green Veined White


Meanwhile in the hedges I have regularly been hearing Whitethroats, particularly in a spot where I am certain they have nested in a previous year.  They often appear in the middle of summer in the midst of a stand of hogweed, glimpses can be caught of them foraging for insects there of an evening, however, the hogweed is late in blooming this year and so they have stayed the far side of the brook near a stand of blackthorn.  One evening, after waiting for a while, I was rewarded with good views of the female as she hopped around in the top of the vegetation, before being slightly more bold and briefly appearing in the open. 

Female Whitethroat getting curious! 

Just along from where I saw her, is a patch of lower vegetation which usually consists of thistles, vetch, dandelions, clover, lesser stitchwort and loosestrife, all of which are slow in growing.  On the off chance I had a little meander around it, as it is often a good spot for Common Blue and Brown Argus Butterflies.  Just as I was about to depart, something tiny fluttered up in front of me - an early male Brown Argus!  

Male Brown Argus butterfly, note the black spots on the wings. 


The closed view, for a long time I thought these were Common Blues!


The Chiff Chaffs around the Local Patch seem to be having a good year this year, with more being heard and glimpses caught of them than in previous years.  The males have been continually 'chiff-chaffing away around their territories, occasionally appearing to see if anyone is listening!  

Chiff Chaff, peering out during a break in calling.

 

I have also seen, for the first time locally, three pairs of Bullfinches.  They are incredibly shy and were off as soon as they spotted me, so I have not yet been able to photograph them, although I have been keeping a lookout in the areas that I saw them.  

Another elusive, but rather cheeky bird is the Blackcap; now this year, there seem to be a fair few about compared to last, distributed all over where I walk, instead of the one spot I found them in last year. I regularly hear them serenading from within the hawthorn and Blackthorn, only getting a rare glimpse from time to time.

 Male Blackcap, deep undercover! 


And finally!

Well I said that butterflies have so far been a little on the slow side in appearing here, but the other evening, I made my first ever acquaintance with a Painted lady, so I shall be hoping to see a few more as I believe that it is expected to be a good year for them! 

My first Painted Lady ! 


I regularly add more to my Nature diary over on Flickr in seasonal or annual sets for my Local Patch these are:

 Minibeasts and Local Birds and Wildlife 2015 : 

So do please pop over for a browse!

 


 









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