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Butterflies, bees and hungry heron...

Date posted: Wednesday 21st April 2021

Butterflies, bees and hungry heron...

It’s said that one of the first five indicators that spring’s arrived is the Orange Tip butterfly and I was delighted to spot one on Sunday in Home Park, along with the first brimstone I’ve seen this year! The next day a Brimstone fluttered past at the back of my allotment, always a zing of vivid yellow to brighten the day, Peacock butterflies have been around for a good couple of weeks now and the present warm sun is bringing invertebrates and flowers on and out. The beekeeper showed me the location of what he thought was a fritillary in the beehive area, but it was the more common but still exciting first sighting of a Speckled Wood.

“Speckled woods have brown wings with creamy-yellow spots; there is one black and white eyespot on the forewing and three on the hind. The undersides are patterned orange, yellow and brown. This species is common in woods, scrub and tall vegetation throughout southern England and lowland Wales, and appears to be recolonising eastern and northern England and Scotland. You can often see males perched in pools of sunlight or fluttering upwards in a band of sunshine in an otherwise shady woodland ride. Females lay single, white eggs on a variety of grasses along the sunny edges of woods, rides and hedges.
The caterpillars are bright green with faint, darker green and yellow stripes. They pupate after about 10 days, with the chrysalises suspended beneath grass blades. Unlike any other British butterfly, speckled woods are able to hibernate as either a caterpillar or chrysalis. Adults feed on aphid honeydew. They are rarely seen on flowers except early and late in the year when there are few aphids. Caterpillars eat various grasses, including false brome, cock’s-foot, Yorkshire fog and common couch.” (www.rspb.org.uk)

In the beehive area the bees are buzzily active and they’ve been descending onto our pond to take minute amounts of water back to the hive. When they first found the pond there were a few casualties and I rescued one or two from a watery demise, but now they’ve obviously learned how to alight on stems of the water plants or debris to avoid drowning. Ponds are attractive to a range of wildlife but this heron was seen along the back of my plot with a small rat or mouse in it’s beak – that beak is a lethal weapon!