I mentioned on an earlier post that we once planted some poppy seed in our vegetable plot and since then they’ve come up every year. So this morning the sun was shining just right and I couldn’t resist taking a picture of these which are growing at the end of a row of chard.
Twice I’d seen what I thought was a Fritillary up in the Sloe Field but either I didn’t have my camera with me or it had flown off before I had chance to snap it. As you will see, it turned out not to be a Fritillary but a Speckled Wood which was still good.
I had an idea. Usually I go up in the Sloe Field when the sun is bright and in the middle of the day because there are loads of butterflies flying around then. That’s the problem you see, the butterflies are warm and they just fly around all the time hardly stopping. What is more, when they do stop to rest they usually close their wings up. So my idea was to go to the Sloe Field early in the morning when the sun had just risen. The butterflies will need warming up after the cool night, so I figured they might rest longer with their wings open in order to soak up the sun.
And it worked. I went up this morning at 6:30. The Sloe Field faces south east as ideal to catch the sun in the morning. So here are a few pictures of some butterflies warming up in the morning. Most of them are Gatekeepers and there is one Ringlet. The last picture shows my “Fritillary”.
So here is the Fritillary which turned out to be a Speckled Wood. It’s not a very clear picture and the butterfly is a little worse for wear. (I almost said Moth Eaten)
The other important thing to remember when photographing butterflies is to not take a dog with you.
It is very hard to take a picture of a grasshopper,. They just, well, hop. I had my eye on one in particular which was clinging to a grass stem but the shot wasn’t clear so I moved around slightly and blow me down the grass hopper moved around the stem as if he were hiding from me. I moved again and so did he. And again. I gave up on that one. I assume there are different types of grasshopper in this country but all I know is Grasshopper. They are at least easy to find. If I walk in the long grass they ping away from me and I just have to keep an eye on where it lands. There must be thousand of them up in the long grass in the Sloe Field. I always think they look like machines rather than living organisms. Anyway I took a load of pictures and here are some of them.
I suppose we shouldn’t really count these as wildflowers since they are in our garden but it is true that we didn’t plant them. These are the offspring of Borage plants we planted years ago. There are hundreds and hundreds of honeybees feeding on them. The flowers point downwards so the bees have to hang upside down. You can see that the stems and leaves of the Borage are very bristly and quite rough to touch. They are very untidy plants and when they get big they flop down so if you want a tidy garden then Borage is probably not a good bet.
The flower are on long stems and they open from the lowest to the highest. This means that it has a very long flowering season which is good for our bees. It has the disadvantage that the seeds also ripen in the same order so at any one time there will be ripe seeds at the bottom while the top is still in flower. This makes them hard to harvest. You can buy large quantities of Borage seed but it is quite expensive because of the difficulty of harvesting. There is quite a skill in deciding when to harvest and I believe you have to allow many to drop before harvesting. When they are ready there are 5 black seeds in each flower head.
We like to keep the Borage because of the bees and we are happy to put up with a bit of untidiness. Here are a few pictures I took this afternoon.
This is a Comma sitting on a Delphinium and taken in our garden.
The Sloe Field is looking wonderful at the moment and my wife and I took time today to take pictures of some of the insects flying around.
Bumble bees are great pollinators. They start early in the year and work right through until the frosts are too hard. They also work long hours in the day, starting early and working late. Unlike honeybees which I think are a bit lazy. I understand that bumblebees are native to the UK and therefore used to the colder climate whereas honeybees are introduced and from hotter climates. We’ve tried to identify the bumble bees but some of them are hard to distinguish.
There are lots of butterflies in the Sloe Field and there are some pictures here. You have to be patient when trying to take pictures of butterflies. Unlike bumblebees which seem to work pretty methodically butterflies seem aimless. I often wonder what they are trying to do as they flit about among the long grass and flowers. There seems to be no rhyme or reason. They’ll flit past a dozen flowers before landing on one which is identical to the ones it’s passed. What’s wrong with those flowers I’d like to ask.
These are the fruit of the Cuckoo-Pint which I failed to take a picture of earlier in year when it was in flower. Its other name is Lords and Ladies but it has many names. Lords and Ladies refers to its similarity to the male and female sex organs and I believe even the word Pint comes from the old word for penis.
We always get one or two coming up in the sloe field. They are food plants for the caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth which are very striking to see with black and yellow or orange stripes.
It’s hard to miss these which look quite tropical. On this one the roundel on the lower wing is hidden by the upper wing. The caterpillars feed on nettles and we have plenty of those.
This is the dreaded Cabbage White butterfly. Hated by anyone growing brassicas. There’s a large white and a small white both of whom have catterpillars which eat cabbages.
Edit: 02 August: When I originally posted this I described this butterfly as a Small White but I now think it is a large white.