Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Sunday, 17 May 2009

Horror tree, and butterflies with attitude

Or part two of Saturday. Warning. Picture overload, and probably way too long.

I left the empty post, where the Kestrel had stopped for a brief rest, before the pigeon decided it would be fun to move him, and walked back to the lake edge. The wind was still cutting across the water, and the Swifts were slicing their way through it all, in their search for insects. A Mallard swam past with her family obediently following.

I was now just over half way round the lake, passing the pub on my right, (good boy), and passing by me, on my left, three Greylag Geese, with I presume a combined family; judging by the number of young.

More Greylag and Canada Geese were milling around outside the pub on the grassy slope, waiting for the tit bits freely given by the punters. I passed under the road bridge, and headed for the expanse of grass, that separates the lake from the River Ouzel.

In a few weeks this will be a mass of flowers, and a hive of activity for the visiting damsels, dragons and butterflies. For now, just a few plants, emerging to grace a new summer.
At the side of the lake, Ragged Robin, nodding in the wind,

Red Clover underfoot

and Oxeye Daisy, shining in the sunlight.

I made my way over to the rivers edge, bordered with Cow Parsley.

Usually a good place to see Banded Demoiselle, and I wasn’t disappointed. Clinging to the grass, in the strong wind, I found some.
As soon as they took to the air, they were quickly knocked back down again.
Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil was glistening in the grass,

and more Ragged Robin and Buttercups, were reaching skyward.

I turned at the top of the lake, to make my final part of the circuit.
Yellow Iris, or Yellow Flag as it’s also known, were beginning to make their show, lining the edge of the lake, throwing splashes of colour with the reeds as a backdrop.

More yellow, as a carpet of Buttercups lay before me,

And then, up ahead, the Tree.

Stripped of all its leaves, it stood looking like it had been wrapped in cling-film; all over the branches, and even the trunk. Dressed for Halloween?

And amongst all this cling-film, thousands of tiny caterpillars.

I’ve no idea what they are, but if anyone does, I’d love to know. The trees around it, didn’t seem quite so affected, but they hadn’t got away scott free.

Quickly moving on, I made my way back towards the car park, and an area that frequently plays host to more damsels, dragons and butterflies.

A Common Blue was drinking the nectar from some Cow Parsley

Whilst a Green-veined White preferred Buttercup.

A Damsel I’m not too sure of, was hanging on to a leaf, in this fairly sheltered spot

I think, maybe, an Azure Damselfly? Probably wrong though.
And then it was ‘fight’ time. A couple of Orange Tip butterflies decided they would both prefer the same Common Vetch plant. One got there first, and despite the efforts and barging of the second, wasn’t giving in. The pictures tell the story better than me.

He won in the end


  1. Keith - that's one amazing post but from a literal and photographic view point! Once started I just had to keep reading.

    Whilst all your pictures are wonderful, I have to say I really love the Common Blue on the cow parsley.

  2. Amazing photographs of the orange tip altercation! You hardly ever see butterflies photographed in flight. Many years ago I read a fascinating book about butterfly behaviour called Bright Wings of Summer by an artist/naturalist called David Measures, which is a good read if you can get hold of it. I think the caterpillars defoliating the tree might be small ermine moths (Yponomeuta) - we get it up here in the north east, defoliating bird cherry trees in hedgerows but I've never seen such a thorough job as they've done on your tree!

  3. Thanks Tricia. Just a bit on the lengthy side lol Thanks for sticking with it though.
    The Common Blue is a real stunner, especially when the sun shines on him.

    Greenfingers, thank you, and the probable culprits of the tree bashing. I'll look into that. I'll do a search for the book too, thanks.

  4. Nice looking set of photos in this post. Some butterflies I have never seen before.

  5. God is really wonderful, making flowers and butterflies work together, they seemed made for each other,their color combinations,so perfect! i always mesmerizing! thanks Keith!

  6. That Green-veined White on the Buttercup is a masterpiece.
    And the Orange Tips in aerial combat - a great observation, Keith.

  7. Felt like I spent a wonderful afternoon with you! Those butterfly photos were all ridiculously beautiful!!!

  8. Abe......Thank you. They really brighten the countryside on sunny days; like flying jewels.

    lolit.....Perfect combination aren't they.

    Rob......Thanks very much. Appreciated.

    Shellmo, thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.

  9. A really wonderful post Keith. The Butterflies are spectacular mate.

  10. We also enjoyed this part of your walk.You managed to capture the butterflies beautifully.

  11. Wow!! What a wonderful post with such beautiful photography. The third photo in of the mama with her massive brood of babies is very cool. Also......your flower photos are very artistic. I love them...the colors and the positioning of them in the frames. That little blue butterfly on the white blossoms...beautiful!

  12. What absolutely gorgeous photos and a beautiful post altogether, I loved every bit of it, thank you Keith.

  13. Thanks Nick. I think I spent more time watching them later in the day, than I did the birds.

    Thank you NatureStop. The flying ones were a bit of a challenge :)

    Kelly, very kind of you, thank you.

    ShySongbird, thank you. Appreciate your comment.

  14. Not too long at all - I looked at, and enjoyed every one (well, maybe not so much the bagworms). Beautiful post.

  15. Thanks Birdlady. I must try and keep them a bit shorter though, I think :)

  16. I hate to think how long this took you to publish..another late night?
    Anyway, great post with lots of interest. Loved the flower pics, something I need to work on.

  17. We have the Eastern Tent Caterpillar here in New Hampshire that look and operate just like those of your horror tree. There is a small scab of eggs that hatch in the spring and they defoliate the tree if left undeterred. If you notice them early enough you can crush the scab or later squish the rotten devils and clear out the tents. Good news...the tree is usually okay even if completely defoliated. The next year leaves should return but be vigilant about watching for new egg deposits in winter/spring.

  18. Hi Keith, Glad I checked back and found this post...Awesome work with the butterflies in flight. We have a catepillar called the spice bush it makes a beautiful butterfly and the leaves of the wild cherry grow back soon after they leave...

  19. Frank, thank you. I took just over 300 pictures that day, (400 on Sunday),not all keepers though, but it did take an awful long time to do; :( I need to ease off the shutter a bit at times.
    Glad you enjoyed it.

    Andrea, thanks. I've had a look on the net about these, and I think Greenfingers was right about the ID for this particular one. They also favour the 'spindle' here; although some similar caterpillars seem to do the same thing in various countries. Fascinating stuff.

    Dixxie, thanks for checking back. Seems this sort of thing is fairly common all over, but to be honest, the first time I've ever noticed it like this. Always something to discover in nature.