As promised, the butterfly collection for the last couple of months.
But first, a hay field. This picture appeals to me, it looks, so, country. Maybe the heat is getting to me. The bales are being collected now by an overheated and, I imagine, rather grumpy bloke with a tractor and trailer. I think he must be grumpy because it's so hot and because he's trashed a small willow tree that was close to the track and is now upon it. It happens, I'm only glad he didn't take the telephone line with it.
I like doing butterfly posts because the pictures are pretty and everyone loves a butterfly but of course, our charming darlings can be other people's pests. The Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus) has received quite a bit of attention in the UK recently as it's a rare migrant and is eagerly searched for by the butterfly equivalent of twitchers (what is that word, answers on a postcard?). However, it feeds on pea plants and when it can't find wild peas it's perfectly happy with the cultivated sort, which is where I found this one, happily laying eggs on my Carlin peas.
Still, it's a first for me and this garden as far as I know and I was as thrilled as any geeky lepidopterist has a right to be. I shall be keeping my eyes open for less raddled specimens in the future.
The current batch of Painted Ladies is considerably more glossy coated than the early ones. This one is enjoying some common knapweed which seems to be a food plant of choice, there were several in attendance.
Skipper - I think this is the large sort. Really must gather up all the pictures and spend a bit of time trying to establish exact ids for them, I'm pretty sure we have the small but do we have the Essex and Lulworth skippers (such imperious naming, they are both available overseas!)?
Of the usually more frequent and common 'garden' butterflies we have had examples of most but very few in quantity. It's probably nothing to worry about but it's surprising after the excellent warm spring we had. There are many Marbled Whites this year and plenty of Meadow Browns and Ringlets. Just becoming frequent, Gatekeepers, but almost no Peacocks, Red Admirals or Tortoiseshells. I spotted a Silver washed Fritillary half an hour ago but wasn't quick enough to get its picture.
And now, the jewel in the crown for this month - the Purple Emperor. We live in the perfect place for these magnificent butterflies and felt sure they were laughing at us from high in the canopy of the trees as we'd never made a certain sighting of one but this handsome chap deigned to come down and pose for a good 15 minutes while he gathered some salts from the mortar of our barn. It's been a good year for spotting and photographing new species for us, the Long-tailed Blue, the Glanville Fritillary on the coast and this fine specimen probably make a record.