Well, it is that time of the year again and it is with much regret that I must say my goodbyes until next season
. I'd like to thank everyone who has taken an interest in my diary, whether this has been just to enjoy the images or perhaps taking the time to comment or give advice. It has been a difficult season in more ways than one – health issues, essential house maintenance and too many animal problems, all of which have resulted in a very fragmented season for me. However, the enforced ‘down time’ has given me the opportunity to reflect on the last few months, the challenges and achievements, the exciting times, various findings, learning opportunities and the inevitable battles with the British climate. I have enjoyed meeting new enthusiasts and seeing new places, not least Bookham Common, unfortunately seen on a cold, cloudy day, thankfully with Martin as my guide.
I was a little disappointed to effectively ‘miss’ the Purple Emperor season but it was my choice to take on the rearing of those tiny hedgehogs (all of which have recently been successfully released), which I found to be a very rewarding and educational experience. However, as a result, I only saw a handful of PE in flight and no photos or close-up views. Likewise, with the Small PBF – domestic issues kept me grounded. Nevertheless, I was fortunate enough to discover a 2nd brood Dingy Skipper which was a first for me. Other ‘firsts’ included watching a Gatekeeper and Brown Argus ovi-posting and managing to get images of that Brown Hairstreak laying an amazing 4 eggs!
On the rearing front I was surprised to realise that I have reared 5 butterfly species and a few moths. This is an aspect that I find more interesting year on year although once I have reared any particular species I find that I subsequently prefer to attempt to monitor them in the wild in an endeavour to make comparisons,. In the case of the Small Copper, Brown Hairstreak and White Admiral this has demonstrated to me just how many of the immature stages are ‘lost’. I have surprised myself at how my interest in the immature stages has expanded, happily spending a great deal of time just watching – perhaps it is an age thing!
I have not made as much progress on the moth front as I hoped. A lack of time coupled with their sheer numbers and the fact that I often struggle with identification leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed. I appreciate the help I have received in this area and continue to be inspired by Neil’s wonderful images. Hoping to encourage more moths I was very pleased to find that only weeks after planting a Mullein plant in the garden the Mullein moth had laid eggs on it. For 3 consecutive years now I have had Hummingbird Hawk-moths nectaring at my Phlox so the next mini project is to plant some Bedstraws around it.
It has become something of a tradition to end my season with a summary of images so without more ado but with some brief explanation ……….
I have been puzzled and quite disappointed by the apparent total disappearance of all those dozens of Small Copper discovered very late last season on a small site carpeted with Sorrel. As I posted their images earlier this year I decided to compile a summary of the shots I took as a reminder of some remarkable sights:
Over the Winter months there were some opportunities to see birds I have not seen before so I have tried to summarise a few of these. It is clear that my bird photography needs some work but with the advice I have received from Mike and others I hope I can improve on this over the winter and into next season:
Hairstreaks remain my favourite group so it goes without saying that they have to have their own category:
At random I pulled out a few of my favourite butterfly shots of the season. They may not be the best images technically but have been selected on the basis of the memories they evoke:
The time I spend on the immature stages, both at home and in the wild seems to increase year on year and to that end I have included 2 compilations which I hope reflects that. My camera is not the best to take shots of tiny subjects so I hope the images are clear enough – they will never be in the same league as the jaw-dropping images Pete has recently posted:
Likewise, butterfly behaviour continues to fascinate me so my summary would not be complete without a few shots relating to this aspect. I suspect this is why I enjoy rearing a few species each season – I do spend a lot of time just watching them whenever possible and so I am including 2 of the species reared this year (Holly Blue and Comma):
On the moth front I think the most exciting moth in the trap this season for me was the Lobster moth, closely followed by the Puss moth, although I only put it out 4-5 times. In the garden it has to be the Hummingbird Hawk-moth. Whenever I see it, I just have to stop and watch:
I can’t deny a developing interest in all things insect related even though I find some of them distasteful – not those gorgeous Demoiselles though or the Glowworm larva which I have never seen before. To that end I have included a new ‘category’ to reflect this:
It really is time to go now. As well as all the usual outside maintenance I have plans to learn some new skills this winter and re-upholster all my dining room chairs which Jaffa has torn to shreds. If I am successful, perhaps I’ll post a shot in the Spring. In the words of Wurzel ‘have a goodun’!!