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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Monday, 29 June 2009

The second bit; butterflies and the tree culprit.

So, after watching the raging Coots, I made my way to where the Butterflies would be; hopefully. This particular stretch alongside the south lake, is thankfully left to do its own thing for most of the year. And it does. Masses of wild flowers grace both sides of the footpath.

At the moment, Common Knapweed rules the roost,

and it attracts all kinds of insects. The bees love it,

drunkenly gorging on the nectar. And plenty of Butterflies taking their fill too.

Small Tortoishell, jockeying along with,

Gatekeeper. There were more Marbled White’s fluttering around, and every step produced Damsels taking to the air, briefly, before settling again. Not to be outdone, Six-spot Burnet Moths seemed to be everywhere.

I could have easily spent the rest of the morning just here, but I steadily made my way to the bottom end of the lake. A Little Egret flew overhead, and down amongst the grass I noticed a caterpillar.

The spines looked pretty lethal to me; no idea what it was, so I left well alone, and turned my attention to another first, for me.

A Ringlet. A beautiful dark chocolate brown, fluttering amongst the grass. And close by, a similar brown one, though not as dark.

Meadow Brown. And just ahead of these, a smaller brown chap,

Small Skipper.

I looked up towards the path, and a few people were out for a stroll. They were blissfully unaware of all the beauty just a few feet away from them.
I wanted to shout out, ‘Hey! Look at all this!’ but I didn’t; I’m not ready to be locked up yet as a madman. Instead I slowly walked on through the grass and flowers, towards the ‘horror tree.’

I left the Butterflies flying and gorging, and turned the final curve of the lake, back towards my starting point. It was getting very warm; no hot, despite the lack of strong sunshine. The lake looked inviting; a midday swim to cool off?
No, I decided against it. That would be madness.

A tall Orchid was growing by the side of the lake, the first time I’ve noticed Orchids here.

Name? Unknown to me; but a beauty.

And there, just ahead, stood the ‘horror tree.’

Now if you’ve read this far, and you’re beginning to think, ‘what’s he on about, horror tree?’ fear not, I’m not really mad. In a previous post, I’d mentioned a defoliated tree, covered in silk and caterpillars. It looked dead, like something from a horror movie, hence ‘horror tree.’ A couple of weeks later it had started to fight back, with new leaves, but still silk and caterpillars.

And today?

A brand new tree.

On closer inspection it still had some silk, but the caterpillars had turned into moths. Little white ones, with black spots.

Literally thousands of them. Some had fallen dead to the ground, around the tree, but the rest, an air force, waiting to take flight into the unknown.

Bird-cherry Ermine Moth.

They were everywhere; under the leaves, on the leaves, on the trunk, and on me. Most were content to just sit; while others were exercising their tiny wings, ready for their maiden flight. And some just dropped to the ground.
An amazing spectacle.

Glad I had cleared up my little mystery, I carried on my way, with a weary spring in my step, past another small group of Swans by the rowing club,

and eventually found the car.

But by way of proving to me, that Coots aren’t the belligerent birds we normally see, this parent was having a ‘tender’ moment, feeding one of its youngsters.



  1. Another great mixture of wildlife, Keith.

    I was interested to see Ringlet butterfly as the other morning I caught a glimpse of a brown butterfly with white edging as it flew past me and was wondering what it was.

    You wouldn't get me near that 'moth' tree. It makes me go cold all over just thinking about it!

    What a lovely tender moment to finish on.

  2. ...a really fun and interesting post. From the gorgeous field of flowers at the beginning to the sweet mama coot and chick at the end, I enjoyed it all. I guess you had arrived at the caterpillar tent just after the moths emerged. Very cool and perfect timing. I've seen plenty of the caterpillar tents, but I've never seen the moment of departure!! Those little moth are pretty with the black spots on their wings. (That spiny caterpillar looked pretty scary to me. I would have left it alone too! I wonder how many birds think twice before nabbing him! Or if they totally pass him on by.)

  3. When I read that the mysterious culprit was to be revealed I raced on ahead to see who it was. On the way your wonderful photos of pollinators slowed me down and made be back-pedal to take it all in slowly.

  4. Thanks John. I think the Ringlet is quite easy to overlook; just a brown butterfly, but the underside has lovely markings.
    Yea, the tree was kind of spooky looking with all the moths lined up everywhere.

    Kelly, thanks for your comment. I think you're right about the timing; a few more days and the moths will be gone.
    I think the caterpillar will turn into a Peacock Butterfly; very nice.

    Andrea thank you. Glad you enjoyed the pictures, and thanks for your comment.

  5. I wonder if those are gypsy moths that do a great deal of damage here in the states.

  6. You remind me of me..lol I too will be seeking the company of a butterfly over a group of people..and then I wonder why everyone doesnt see what I see? Its the best kept secret--right? All your photos are great and Im happy you've ID'ed them for us, I would have to pull out my Butterflies n Moths book! Today I picked up a whole bunch of wild turkey feathers! A bird met an unfortunate end last week and I saw the feathers scattered along the roadside.

  7. Nice selection of butterflies plus that metallic sheen on the 6-spot Burnet. Glad you solved the mystery of the 'horror tree'.

  8. Thanks Abe. It sounds very similar. I looked at quite a bit on the net, trying to find the 'culprits' name.

    Dixxe, thanks. Yea, nature or people? Not too hard a choice at times lol
    Glad you enjoyed the pictures.

    Cheers Frank. I'm glad that mystery is solved too. I'll have to check the spot next year, to see if they return.

  9. Had been waiting for your follow up on the "horror tree".Looks so different now.Was wising that the caterpillars would turn into butterfiles but the moths don't look bad.You really captured all the butterflies beautifully.The orchid is a beauty.Love the last image.

  10. All those beautiful butterflies in one place! I would have loved that, it must have felt like you were in your own separate little world, just lovely. It was interesting getting the follow up on the 'horror' tree too, I looked the moth up and thought you might find the following interesting. Lovely photo of the Coots too.


  11. The Small Tortoiseshell shows beautifully on the Knapweed - a stunning colour combination.
    The Ringlet is a subtle one - so much so I haven't seen one yet! Now I know what to look for..

  12. A really wonderful read Keith with some beautiful pics to go along with it.
    I'd buy your book if you release one mate :-)

  13. NatureStop, thank you. The moths certainly had a beauty all their own, and so delicate and innocent looking :)

    ShySongbird, it was great to see so many Butterflies out on the wing like that. It seemed every step produced more and more.
    Thanks for that link; really interesting reading. I don’t think I’d like to find my car covered like that though lol

    Cheers Rob. Yea, it was butterfly heaven for a while.

    Thanks Nick. If I ever do a book, I’ll sign it for ya mate lol

  14. Another wonderful piece, Keith. Full of wildlife and lovely pictures.

  15. Another great lot of images Keith. You would guess I like the Knapweed field. Best looking Ringlet I have seen this year. (The Caterpillar is a Peacock of the future. Is the Orchid a Common Spotted??)

  16. Thank you for your comment Emma. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

    Roy, thanks. The Knapweed looked great from a distance, but up close, there was so much to see in there.
    Thanks for the ID's. Always good to be able to put names to what we see.