It Started with A Comma
started with a Comma.
In early April, after the snows had gone and the weather started to be a little warmer and brighter, spring suddenly arrived with a rush and as blossom and fresh greenery began to cautiously emerge, so did the Butterflies.
Butterflies (amongst others) will find places to hibernate during the winter
months and can sometimes be seen on milder winter days. This was the
first one I saw this year, basking in the sunshine to warm up before fluttering
off to try and find food and a mate.
the same time, a small number of Small Tortoiseshells appeared, along with
One afternoon, I watched Small Tortoiseshells basking alongside Peacocks, every so often both species would flutter up and joust mid-air as they competed for a mate or territory. I would have to wait to see if any were successful in their searches for a partner.
As the month progressed, Holly Blues could be seen fluttering busily about with a few fresh looking Brimstone Butterflies also on the Wing.
May, in addition to occasional moments with Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells,
glimpses of Holly Blues and Brimstones, it looked like it was going to be a
good year for Orange Tips – usually I’m lucky to see one on my local patch,
however this year, there seemed to be quite a few about, patrolling up and down
in search of a partner.
afternoon, I was lucky enough to spot a male who was taking time out to refuel
Before he spotted a female, also taking a moment for herself, before they both flew off, tumbling along in the air.
now it started to warm up…
the fallow field where I walk, Burnet Companions began to chase back and
forth. I have found over the past few years that these pretty moths
herald the emergence of some of the summer species, so anticipation grew…
Sure enough some treats were in store as the month progressed!
afternoon as I watched Burnett Companions chasing through the long grasses, a
flash of tumbling blue caught my eye – a pair of courting Common Blue
As I watched, two or three pairs made their presence known and I watched transfixed as they chased around. Last year, I had only seen one pair mating, after that they had (again) vanished for the remainder of the summer, was this year going to see a return?
by to where I was watching the ‘Blues’ a further treat was had – five feisty
Small Copper Butterflies all in courting mode, settling only briefly from time
to time, before continuing on their quest.
along the same path there were also a few Brown Argus Butterflies fluttering or
settling in the grasses. It was beginning to look like a Lycaenidae
As the month went on I began to see Silver Y moths fluttering low down amongst the orchids and Stitchwort,
as well as Lattice Heath
and Mother Shipton Moths.
Large Skippers made an appearance, not in any great numbers compared to previous years, but they were definitely taking advantage of the wildflowers in bloom.
Over by the brook in a bank of stinging nettles, it appeared the Peacocks had been successful in their quest as there were a large group of black spikey caterpillars.
In the tall grasses Meadow Browns began to appear
As well as Ringlet butterflies – these would both roost deep in the grasses, taking to the air at the merest hint of disturbance.
Elsewhere Large White Butterflies and Commas were on the wing
And as the thistles came into bloom, Five Spot Burnet moths could be seen busily nectaring.
July it was incredibly warm and things began to quieten down as many of the
nectar bearing blooms faded in the heat.
were many Large and Small White Butterflies about, flying amongst the grasses
with the remaining Ringlets and Meadow Browns.
Small Skippers appeared briefly – as with the Large Skippers, they were low in numbers. (The fallow field was mown and flayed severely last year and as Skippers lay their eggs in the grasses, I strongly suspect this had a knock on effect).
New tones of brown and orange appeared amongst the grasses and around the remaining bramble banks – the Gatekeepers had arrived! I watched quite a few of these amongst the grasses and also nectaring on the available bramble blossom.
On one morning walk I had a few surprises. I have known they are here, but had only ever seen one before, however as I was watching a busy Whitethroat foraging, a colour and flight caught my eye, watching where it had settled I saw a Purple hairstreak Butterfly.
These usually live up in the tree canopy, usually in Oaks and feed mostly on the honeydew left by other insects. For that morning and a few others, I definitely saw three or four more on the wing.
and there I saw a few Red Admirals on the wing, these mostly were too busy to
stop, however whilst watching one, I learnt how easily they can be missed when
they do settle!
I also caught fleeting glimpses of two Silver Washed Fritillary Butterflies who were somewhat camera shy, however, coming across a patch of Forget-Me-Nots and thistles, a colour caught my eye – two pristine Brimstone Butterflies nectaring, in July!
Wood Butterflies began to emerge and I often saw them jousting furiously inside
the woodland. These, as always had made a late appearance – back in June
on a trip to the Forest of Dean, I had lost count of how many I saw out on our
By now, scorched by the heat, the Common Hogweed, St John’s Wort, Trefoils, thistles and other wildflowers across the meadow had all but expired, however one large patch of Rosebay Willowherb remained, a patch of shocking pink amongst the dried blonde grasses.
afternoon I had a tiptoe along the rabbit paths to see if any of the remaining
Butterflies were taking advantage of the nectar source. I was in
Butterfly heaven – I ended up standing in the middle of a roost of Common
As it was so warm, I visited the spot a few times in the late afternoons; during those visits I got to watch them settling to roost or if I was lucky the gentlest of courtships.
a while, the Blues mostly dispersed - their courtships done, but I had also
seen a few Brown Argus nearby as they went to roost.
one occasion when I was there, they as well as the few remaining Common Blues
were making the most of the Willowherb as a food source.
the behaviour of the Brown Argus Butterflies, I could also see that several
were in courtship mode, settling, summoning and dancing around one another.
and a wander closer to the brook gave me some beautiful views of a solitary Common Blue.
October. (During September I was away)
few wanders out and the Butterflies have mostly gone. It is still mild
though, so I went in search of the local Common Lizards.. Whilst watching
them, a few bright spots amongst the greens and bronzes of autumn foliage
caught my eye…
it started, It ended with a Comma....