For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009; 2008;
2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002; 2001. I seem to have
lost the file for 2000.
Some of my friends also keep, or have kept, online year-lists. Tim
living in the Monts du Lyonnais, publishes his list HERE
and Matthew Rowlings, who lives not far from me in Vevey, Switzerland,
has his HERE.
friend, Robin Fox, in Italy, keeps a regularly updated sightings diary HERE.
SCROLL DOWN for the 2020 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the
COMMENTARY for each month.
NOTE TO MY REGULAR READERS:
Following the death of my mother on 15th March 2018 I have moved to
England to keep my father company. My 2020 and 2019 diaries are
different from all my previous ones. No longer do I have alpine
species on my doorstep and purple emperor caterpillars in my local
woods. No more midwinter visits to Queen of Spain fritillaries in the
Rhône Valley or spring trips to nettle tree habitat in Italy! Thank you
to everyone who has followed the Swiss butterfly years with me. I will
try to keep some interest in these pages and hope to get some holidays
abroad, but in the short term my diary will record mostly the creatures
in and around Woodbridge, Suffolk. I will try to include at least one
photo, of nature or scenery, every day.
FOR THE YEAR 2020
Peacock (Aglais io) -
6th February - Suffolk, UK
Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
- 10th February - Suffolk, UK
Comma (Polygonia c-album)
- 8th March - Suffolk, UK
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
- 8th March - Suffolk, UK
Small tortoiseshell (Aglais
urticae) - 11th March - Suffolk, UK
Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus)
- 23rd March - Suffolk, UK
Small white (Pieris rapae)
- 26th March - Suffolk, UK
Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria
- 31st March - Suffolk, UK
Orange tip (Anthocharis
cardamines) - 4th April - Suffolk, UK
Green-veined white (Pieris napi)
- 11th April - Suffolk, UK
Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas)
- 21st April - Suffolk, UK
Green hairstreak (Callophrys
rubi) - 23rd April - Suffolk, UK
Large white (Pieris brassicae)
- 23rd April - Suffolk, UK
Small heath (Coenonympha
pamphilus) - 18th May - Suffolk, UK
Common blue (Polyommatus icarus)
- 20th May - Suffolk, UK
Little blue (Cupido minimus)
- 25th May - Suffolk, UK
Brown argus (Aricia agestis)
- 25th May - Suffolk, UK
Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina)
- 13th June - Suffolk, UK
White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium
w-album) - 18th June - Suffolk, UK
Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)
- 20th June - Suffolk, UK
Silver-studded blue (Plebejus
argus) - 25th June - Suffolk, UK
Small skipper (Thymelicus
sylvestris) - 25th June - Suffolk, UK
Marbled white (Melanargia
galathea) - 26th June - Suffolk, UK
Essex skipper (Thymelicus
lineola) - 26th June - Suffolk, UK
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)
- 3rd July - Suffolk, UK
Grayling (Hipparchia semele) - 4th
July - Suffolk, UK
Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus)
- 4th July - Suffolk, UK
Purple hairstreak (Favonius
quercus) - 5th July - Suffolk, UK
White admiral (Limenitis camilla)
- 11th July - Suffolk, UK
Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis
paphia) - 13th July - Suffolk, UK
Lang's short-tailed blue (Leptotes
pirithous) - 1st August - Málaga, Spain
Bath white (Pontia daplidice)
- 1st August - Málaga, Spain
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
- 1st August - Málaga, Spain
Clouded yellow (Colias crocea)
- 1st August - Málaga, Spain
Austaut's blue (Polyommatus
celina) - 1st August - Málaga, Spain
Southern brown argus (Aricia
cramera) - 2nd August - Málaga, Spain
Long-tailed blue (Lampides
boeticus) - 2nd August - Málaga, Spain
Wall (Lasiommata megera)
- 2nd August - Málaga, Spain
Striped grayling (Hipparchia
fidea) - 2nd August - Málaga, Spain
Southern gatekeeper (Pyronia
cecilia) - 2nd August - Málaga, Spain
Swallowtail (Papilio machaon)
- 2nd August - Málaga, Spain
African grass blue (Zizeria
knysna) - 3rd August - Málaga, Spain
Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra)
- 3rd August - Málaga, Spain
Dusky heath (Coenonympha dorus)
- 3rd August - Málaga, Spain
Sage skipper (Muschampia proto)
- 3rd August - Málaga, Spain
Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra)
- 3rd August - Málaga, Spain
Cardinal (Argynnis pandora)
- 3rd August - Málaga, Spain
Geranium bronze (Cacyreus
marshalli) - 4th August - Málaga, Spain
Mediterranean skipper (Gegenes
nostrodamus) - 4th August - Málaga, Spain
Desert orange tip (Colotis
evagore) - 5th August - Málaga, Spain
Commentary (Links in the
commentary are to pictures of the particular butterflies referred to)
January 1st: The year dawned hazy but bright. By mid-morning flies
were sunning themselves in the garden and it was not ridiculous to
wonder if a red admiral might take to the wing. But by lunchtime it was
cloudy and the sun never returned. Here is a robin bravely
singing in the new year through the gloom.
2nd: Grey and cold
all day. Here is a bar-tailed godwit on the Deben and here a little
group of bar-tailed godwits. These are black-tailed
godwits. An avocet was wading with them (and here). There
were plenty of redshanks, dunlin, wigeon,
teal, lapwings and all the usual winter estuary birds lurking in the
3rd: Grey and cold
most of the day, with rain early. It cleared up a little in the
afternoon and by night was quite clear, with just a little haze. Here
rising over the houses, and here the half-moon.
4th: A brighter
morning but still cold. Here is a ruff on the
Deben in the afternoon.
sometimes wet and generally cold all day.
6th: A cloudy start gave way to a pleasant but cold afternoon and a beautifully
clear night. Here is Orion
again (and here) and here
7th: In a reverse of yesterday, a beautiful morning turned to a mostly cloudy afternoon.
Here is a grey
plover, here a ruff (and here) and here a black-tailed
godwit, all on the Deben.
8th: Cloudy all
day, though warm.
9th: A beautiful
morning, leading to a beautiful but very windy afternoon. Minnnie
and I went out to wooded
heathland in the afternoon. The gorse
was in full blossom but seemed strangely unscented all the same. There
were no insects on the gorse, though in places I could see swarms of
flies or moths over the heath. This photo
was taken at a great distance, almost directly into the sun. Despite
the sun and these insects, the heath seemed barren
- this is midwinter after all ... Later it rained, then by our late dog
walk the sky was perfectly clear again, illuminated by a brilliant almost full moon.
Full moon is tomorrow at 19h21, when there will be a penumbral eclipse
(maximum at 19h10).
10th: A beautiful day. Flies
were around in the garden, though unsurprisingly no butterflies woke
up. Took a walk with the dogs along the Deben in the afternoon. Here is
plover (and here) I took for a golden plover until examining
the photos. The golden light deceived me! Here is a ruff and here
he is again with a redshank. The clear skies continued into
the evening. This is the rising moon just at the beginning of penumbral
eclipse. The colour is an effect of its low altitude in the sky. This photograph
was taken at 19h10, just when the penumbral eclipse was at its maximum.
The umbra is passing (out in space) to the bottom right of the moon.
photo was taken on our evening dog-walk, after the eclipse was
completely over and the moon was back to its normal brilliance.
11th: A grey day, all day. Here is Minnie
trotting along Martlesham Creek. The usual ducks and
waders were out in the mud but the light was awful, even though we
weren't late. Here are some teal and here a group of godwits.
12th: Alternately cloudy
rainy and sunny today, leading to a beautifully clear night. Here is
13th: The day began cold
but bright (and here),
becoming really warm and sunny by mid-morning before descending into gloom in the
afternoon and rain before evening.
15th: A cloudy morning gave way to a beautiful afternoon. Here is the river Deben in
full flood in the afternoon. Here are assorted waders
in the fields on the other side of the river, and here a close-up of the
flying ones - which I think are dunlin.
16th: Fen meadow
in the morning.
17th: The weather is now getting colder and brighter. Here is Fen meadow in the
morning, with Minnie.
18th: A beautiful
day from morning till evening, though cold, with frost still on the
ground when I took Boo for her morning run. Here is a buzzard on
Sutton heath (and here). On the way back from the heath I took a
walk along a reeded stretch of the Deben, where this female kingfisher (and here) was fishing, following the last of the sun
as it moved upstream.
19th: A beautiful
day. Busy for most of it, so couldn't get out to the woods or river.
20th: Mixed cloud
and sunshine during the day, leading to a beautiful, clear night. Here
is the evening
skyline with Venus.
21st: A lovely day, clouding over later. Here is the view at low tide
on the Deben. Plenty of avocets (and here) were
wading in the mud. Here are some brent geese on the water. Godwits
were grazing with a few pigeons in the meadows. Here is a godwit
with a pigeon. A seal was swimming at Kyson Point but spent almost
all his time underwater.
22nd: A grey and
misty day all day.
23rd: Morning today.
24th: Another cloudy
25th: A particularly dark day! It was the Great Garden Birdwatch, so my
father and I duly sat outside in the afternoon and counted, but few
birds were around. Here is a jaunty robin trying
to make the most of the weather and here a couple of blue tits.
27th: Morning walk.
No opportunites to get out into nature today.
28th: The weather has turned cold but was brighter, at least, today.
Here is an oystercatcher on a post (it was full, spring tide),
pretending to sleep. Here are waders in
flight on the other side of the river and here a rock pipit
on this side. In the evening, the old moon lay
in the new moon's arms, not far away in the sky from Venus.
29th: A bright
morning, leading to cold and grey by late afternoon. Here are snowdrops
in the cemetery at lunchtime. This is a great
spotted woodpecker in an oak on the heath and here is a rook.
31st: A grey day,
1st: Recent winds have brought a tree down across the path near Kyson point. Godwits
were scattered all around the water's edge, including this ringed bird.
Here is a turnstone,
rushing around on the mud and flipping over
clumps of seaweed. This duck teal was hotly followed by her drake. They
then dabbled together for a bit. Here is the view towards the church
across the school playing fields.
2nd: Another grey
3rd: A beautiful
morning, progressively becoming cloudier during the day but
followed by a clear night.
all day. Here are some dunlin on the grey estuary.
5th: A brightish morning gave way to a cloudy afternoon. Here is a local heath
towards sundown, and here a robin in the bordering woods.
6th: Very cold at daybreak, 0-1°C, but a gloriously sunny day. In the early
afternoon this peacock
was sunning in my garden, apparently scouting for nettles,
and I found a second
peacock in local woods. We're off!
7th: Another cold day, with an increasing, bitter wind. But it was
sunny until after 15h00 and a single peacock flew in
the garden in the morning. This was a different individual from the one
I saw yesterday. Here is an early bumble bee, Bombus pratorum, and here a group of rooks
in the morning, deciding how they will spend this lovely day.
8th: A clear but cold day. Here is a little egret fishing on the Deben (and here). A kestrel was resting up on overhead wires not far
away while this greenshank was wading in the water's edge. I saw a
couple of kingfishers but only in flight. Here is an infinitely long train.
9th: Storm Ciara struck. This poplar in Fen Meadow was blown over.
10th: Winds all day. The morning was sunny but it was cloudy by
lunchtime and rained in the early afternoon. Despite the weather, this red admiral
got trapped in our porch. I popped it in a cardboard box
and took it into the garden, intending to let it climb deep into ivy.
Instead, it few up and off. I hope it has found somewhere to shelter
from the weather.
clear in the morning, but storm Ciara is still blowing and it was
very windy all day. This tree was freshly blown over across a track by the
Deben. It was high tide and the kingfisher
was fishing at one of her usual spots. Here she is hovering,
trying to counter the swaying movements of the branch in the wind.
12th: Cold, sometimes windy, and bright.
I couldn't get out properly until the late afternoon. On my afternoon
walk I saw a peacock caught in the wind. It nearly landed twice but
eventually flew off over the meadow and I got no picture. This is the river Deben then
- for once I saw no kingfishers. Here is a proud teal on the
water and here a passing buzzard.
13th: Sun and showers. Here is a rainbow in the afternoon.
14th: A beautiful morning but cold. Again, I rescued a red admiral from
our porch and let it fly off - no photo, so I don't know if it was the
same one as last time (10th February). In late morning I went to a local track
where butterflies fly early in the year, but there were no nectar
plants and no butterflies. By the afternoon it had turned cloudy. I
managed to relocate one of the white-letter hairstreak eggs I found
last August. They are much harder to get at now, as the branches have
risen up, relieved of the weight of leaves. I managed to get a few poor
photos showing that the egg has hatched (and here).
It is the same egg I photographed on 19th August last year (photo here).The
elm flowers are out, so if the caterpillar made it to one it would have
been able to feed. In the conditions, and with two dogs, I wasn't able
to locate it.
15th: A grey day,
with wind again.
16th: My birthday, but it turns out I didn't take a single picture
17th: The day began beautiful
but continued with mixed sun and cloud, with some rain.
18th: It looked promising in the morning but descended into grey again.
Here is an avocet on our river walk, and here a godwit. On the far side
of the river were two cormorants, one with more grey around the head
than normal and one with very much more - like the race sinensis. This is a closer crop of
one (and here).
19th: Bright but
cold (and here)
20th: Rain almost all day.
21st: Very grey all day. Here is an avocet
wading out deep. Passing one of the elms where I have found
white-letter hairstreak eggs, I saw a branch dangling by a thread. I
detached it and examined it for eggs. There was indeed one - hatched.
I couldn't find the larva. I took the spray home and put it in a vase
of water, in the hope that before long I can spot the caterpillar - if
there is one there - and return it to a safe part of the tree.
22nd: Bright, windy and noticeably warmer today. Here is a view along
the river Deben.
Waders were plodding around in the mud. This is an oystercatcher
and this a grey plover with a lapwing. The grey plover spent
quite a lot of time keeping himself clean,
though feeding in the mud like that it must have been an uphill battle.
Following advice from members of UK Butterflies, I am keeping the elm
spray with the hatched white-letter hairstreak egg in a vase of water,
over white paper. The paper is so I can tell where the caterpillar is -
if indeed there is one - by the frass beneath. When I find him, I will
return him to a living elm.
23rd: Mostly a grey
day with some sun. Here is a bumble bee
in the garden. The elm leaves are beginning to sprout.
25th: Grey and
windy in the morning but with some blue sky in the
26th: The dogs
on a bright but windy morning. In the evening, Venus lay above the
old moon in the new moon's arms.
27th: The first snow of the year fell briefly in the morning, without
settling. Here is an animated gif of it.
March 1st: March
began bright but
cold. In the afternoon I visited a reedy stretch of the
Deben (and here)
but saw very little.
overcast much of the day. Here is a blue tit
making the most of it and here a black-headed
gull, in almost full breeding finery now.
4th: The elm
leaf sprouts are fuller now - there will be leaves on the trees
6th: A much brighter day - it suddenly feels as if spring has arrived.
Here is a robin
in the meadow on our morning walk.
7th: Mild, but after a bright start mostly cloudy today. Here is a male kestrel.
8th: Much warmer today. In the morning, this peacock
was nectaring on hyacinths in the shade, briefly sparring with my first
comma of the year before disappearing. In the afternoon, before cloud
and rain set in, a male brimstone wandered through the garden and
- or more probably the same one - settled briefly in the back garden.
9th: Occasionally sunny, mostly cloudy and raining by the end of the day.
Here is a great
spotted woodpecker (and here)
right at the top of a tree in a local meadow and here a curlew
feeding in the mud of the Deben.
10th: A green shield bug in the garden.
11th: Intermittent cloud and sun during the morning. My father saw a
brimstone in the garden while I was inside working. When I was able to
get out, I quickly saw my first small
tortoiseshell of the year and three different commas (and
Walking the dogs after lunch I spotted a red admiral flying across the
road and then a peacock in the meadow. I saw another peacock in the
road while walking home. In the afternoon I took a trip out to woods
but clouds came over and there were no butterflies.
12th: Cold and windy, but often sunny. The only butterfly seen today
was this comma,
bravely sunbathing in the garden.
13th: Cold and rather windy again. No butterflies flew. Although full
moon was a few days ago now, the tide on the Deben was as full as I have ever seen
it. This is the view
across the Deben. All the birds were gathered on the green
field on the far side. For the first time this year, I think, there
were no brent geese among them.
14th: Arum italicum growing by the
wayside in Woodbridge. Sunset at Tesco.
17th: An unexpectedly sunny morning. This brimstone
was roding through the garden, regularly stopping to nectar or take
warmth. He frequently had intimate company (and here). Here
is a peacock
and here a comma.
21st: Bright and cold, with a stiff breeze. In the garden, only commas were
braving the chill. There were at least three individuals: here and here
are the other two. In the afternoon I visited some woods where peacocks
were on the wing. Mostly, they were on the move, looking for sun and
nectar spots, but I saw one stop. I also saw two small tortoiseshells,
getting just this record shot of one of them.
22nd: A very similar day to yesterday. In the garden, again, commas were
flying (here is another and here an underside)
but I didn't get out today and saw no other species.
23rd: Bright and cold again, with a stiff wind. In the morning, my
blue of the year - a female - was flying in the garden. Also in the
garden were a couple of commas and a peacock. An afternoon walk to a local green
hairstreak site (to see its current state) produced a further comma. Buzzards
were flirting in the sky and this fox was having
a scratch far down the track - he didn't hang around with Minnie at my
24th: Still bright but cold. At least three different commas (and
the garden, and a peacock.
25th: Same weather. Again, commas in the garden, as well as at least two male
and at least one peacock.
26th: Still bright, and feeling warmer. In the garden the usual commas were
defending their spots (here and here are two different individuals), a couple of
peacocks were present and this female holly
- the same individual as on 23rd - paused on the Lawson's cypress. I
saw a brimstone pass through on several occasions and spotted my first
female of the year. In the late afternoon, my first small white of the
year passed through and over the fence.
27th: In the morning, several small whites were passing through the garden and
occasionally stopping. I also saw brimstones, peacocks and commas. It
was warm and sunny, with little wind, all day.
28th: Colder, and cloudy much of the day. It seemed to clear up in the
evening, when Venus and the moon were beautiful together, but then
freezing rain fell.
29th: Cold, with snow
in the morning.
30th: The small
whites were on the wing again (and here) and I
saw a single comma.
31st: Clear but cold. Nothing flew until the afternoon, when first small whites
- still only males - and then this single, fresh, male speckled wood
1st: Cloud all day, and no butterflies. I took my single, legally
authorised walk in the evening. Minnie was wearing her luminous collar,
much to the fascination of this young fox, who stood and stared! I took that photo
with my iPhone.
2nd: Only butterflies seen were some small whites in the garden during
the occasional sunny spells. Here is a buzzard.
4th: First orange
tips on the wing in the garden (and here).
Also flying were the occasional brimstone, at least half a dozen peacocks, small
whites and a few commas. A hot day.
5th: Another hot day. In the morning, I took Minnie for our
government-authorised exercise/walkies to one of my best local green
hairstreak spots. None are flying yet - I didn't find any last year
until May - but the site looked very good. We saw a couple of commas
and several peacocks.
Here is a chiff-chaff
also looking for green hairstreaks. Back home in the garden, orange tips,
male and female brimstones, peacocks and commas were
6th: In the garden today: brimstones (males and a female), orange tip
(not sure how many - at least one ...), peacocks, small whites and commas.
Leaves on the elm trees have sprouted and some have been nibbled but I
found no white-letter hairstreak caterpillars today.
7th: A glorious, warm day today, with brimstones, peacocks, commas,
small whites and orange tips flying in the garden. On my evening
dog-walk I searched for white-letter hairstreak caterpillars in my
local meadow and found this freshly moulted third instar
(and here). I will try
and relocate it during the day, when I might be able to get better
pictures. Here is the supermoon rising in early evening, and here she is
8th: Again, just brimstones, peacocks, commas, small whites and orange tips
in the garden - no holly blues or speckled woods. This small white
was photographed on our afternoon dog-walk, when I also probably saw
green-veined white but it didn't stop for confirmation. Here is an orange
underwing, also on our afternoon walk. Here is the now waning supermoon through
the trees, and with some dark clouds across her face.
9th: An orange
tip in the garden, on greater celandine (and here).
In the afternoon we checked a green
hairstreak site, without expecting to see any as they didn't fly
there last year until May. In the evening I photographed this white-letter
hairstreak caterpillar under UV light - it was very easy to find,
as the picture shows.
10th: The usual species in the garden - brimstone, comma (and here),
small white, orange tip and peacock. In the evening I relocated the
white-letter hairstreak caterpillar - if indeed it is the same one that
moulted on 7th April - and took some photos.
It seems to have some black markings at the tail end - I hope it isn't
parasitised or diseased. It is certainly eating well - many of the
leaves around it are munched through.
11th: First confirmed green-veined whites of the year seen on our
afternoon dog-walk. In the garden, orange tips, commas, peacocks and
brimstones, and commas and peacocks (and here) also seen on our walk.
Here is a swan
against an impressionistic background of reeds reflected in water.
After dark I located three white-letter hairstreak caterpillars (and here and
in local elms, using a UV flashlight to locate them.
12th: A sunny Easter
day until late afternoon, when the storms struck. Here is a kestrel in
the early afternoon. Riding back from our walk I saw a single speckled
wood in the woods. After dark, I found more white-letter
hairstreak caterpillars (and here).
13th: Very cold, and although it was sunny occasionally, no butterflies
flew. After dark another cursory search produced more hitherto unfound white-letter
hairstreak caterpillars (and here).
14th: Very cold but sometimes sunny. On our exercise walk we saw small
whites, peacocks and a comma, as well as white-letter
caterpillars on the usual trees (and here,
In the garden, orange tips,
small whites, peacocks and a brimstone all flew.
15th: In the garden, a gravid female comma feeding up on the Ceanothus,
plenty of small whites and orange tips, a few peacocks and a brimstone.
My first male
holly blue of the year, though it only stopped once, briefly, a
long way away. In the woods lots of peacocks and
a couple of speckled woods. In the evening, four white-letter
hairstreak cats quickly located low in the elms. This one,
I believe, has just moulted into 4th instar, after spending a few days
16th: In the garden in the morning, peacocks, brimstones, a single male
holly blue, lots of male orange tips and small whites. In the afternoon
I took Minnie for a walk in woods I considered good for possible large
tortoiseshells. We didn't see any large tortoiseshells but did see lots
and orange tips and a single comma. On the way, while cycling, we saw a fair
number of female orange tips and I photographed this female
in the woods. The fourth instar white-letter hairstreak caterpillar has
zoomed off - probably higher up the tree. I found two third instar
caterpillars tonight in exactly the same places they were yesterday - I
think laid up for moulting (here is one of them). I found another caterpillar
I don't think I've seen before. I only took this one shot of him under UV
17th: Saw at least three male holly blues in the garden (and here), as
well as my first green-veined white for the garden (a female). Also
in the garden: smalle whites, orange tips and peacocks. In local woods
on our afternoon walk, peacocks and commas were
competing for top sun and nectar spots and I found a single speckled wood.
There are no small coppers yet - nor any large tortoiseshells, the
species I have been looking for this last couple of days! In the
evening, I (re-)located three white-letter hairstreak caterpillars.
One, first seen on 10th April and identifiable by his wonky tail end,
remains in exactly the place I found him on 12th April. Either he
hasn't moved or he returns to the same spot. I'm surprised if he spends
this long laid up for his moult but it is possible, as he had done a
lot of eating prior to this rest. I'll check his position again
tomorrow. I didn't take any photos, so as not to disturb them every
are two different white-letter hairstreak caterpillars, laid up for
their moult from 3rd to 4th instar. In both cases you can see the silk
they have used to bind themselves to the leaves and stems. The second
one is the one I call 'Willy Wonka' as he has a damaged or diseased
tail. He has been laid up since 12th April.
19th: Here is a male holly blue in the garden. Numbers of this
species are growing, with up to five being visible at once around our
holly tree. This
was taking minerals at damp earth in the morning, where my father had
watered the potatoes yesterday. In the evening, I found Willy Wonka -
the white-admiral caterpillar with the wonky tail - just after he had
moulted, now turned round so his head was where his tail had been, and
where his shed skin was. This very poor
was taken by iPhone light. I can't tell whether his tail is still wonky
- but I didn't want to disturb him, as at the time I wasn't quite sure
if he had finished moulting. Here is another photo,
also by iPhone light, of a different 4th instar caterpillar.
20th: The holly blue females in the garden are getting broody! Here is one
checking out suitable holly flowers. Here is a male
lurking near flowers in the hope of catching a female, and here is
sunning himself. Other species in the garden are orange tips,
small whites, green-veined whites, brimstones and still the odd
peacock. During the day I went to check on Willy Wonka, the
white-letter hairstreak caterpillar who moulted into 4th instar last
night. He was looking good (and here, and here)
- no wonky tail any more! He is about 8mm long and will grow to double
this length by the time he is ready to pupate.
21st: The female holly blues are now laying eggs. Here is one
in the act of laying and here is the egg
she laid (and here, with more context). On the heath, small coppers
are now flying (and here). Here is a 4th instar
white-letter hairstreak caterpillar - now c. 12mm long.
22nd: Cycled to the Tunstall/Snape region to look for walls. I found a
site that looked absolutely perfect for them but saw no walls - perhaps
it is still too early. Instead, I saw comma,
peacock, small white, green-veined white, orange tip, holly blue and small
tortoiseshell. On the way home a red admiral crossed my path.
23rd: On the heath, saw my first green hairstreaks of the year - two
(or possibly three) males, occasionally sparring high in a hawthorn
tree (I saw them appear three times), but only settling out of view.
Other species seen on the walk: peacock, speckled wood, comma. In the
garden, the first orange tip eggs are on the garlic mustard. Some were
so laid today (and here) while others were orange.
flying in the garden: green-veined white, holly blue, brimstone and my
first large white of the year. The largest white-letter hairstreak
caterpillars are now 13-14mm.
24th: Visited a different heath in the afternoon, where again the first
hairstreaks of the year were flying. Here is a more distant shot of
one showing a
little of the all-brown upperside.
Little else was flying on the heath, though a red admiral passed me at
speed and I saw a male brimstone too. I didn't expressly look for small
coppers because I was hunting hairstreaks, but nor did I see any. In
the garden, holly blues, orange tips
(lots of eggs now) and green-veined whites were prominent, and a single
speckled wood flew through. I haven't seen a comma in the garden for a
while now. The holly blue egg
I photographed three days ago is now surrounded by what looks like a
spider's snare. I hope it is not there to catch the larva on emergence.
Here is a male
holly blue higher up the tree, feeding on holly flowers.
25th: I relocated Willy Wonka, the white-letter
hairstreak caterpillar, during the day. He is exquisitely
camouflaged, as this picture
shows, and has no signs of the damage or disease apparent when he was
in 3rd instar. I couldn't hunt for others, or dwell long with him, as
there were many people about in the meadow. Holly blues
and orange tips in the garden, and a single peacock. Here are the moon and
Venus, with Aldebaran to the left, in the evening. Orange tip eggs
laid on 23rd April, and still white on 24th, are now orange.
26th: On a heathland walk in the afternoon, to the site where green
hairstreaks were flying on 23rd, I saw no green hairstreaks. Their
numbers are evidently still low. Small coppers
were flying, as well as speckled woods, peacocks and a red admiral.
This is a maiden's
blush moth. Back home, I photographed the spider in
attendance on my holly blue egg (and here).
Here is a male
holly blue - males still outnumber females - and here a female
orange tip, supping between bouts of egg-laying, I hope. This is a dock bug
(Coreus marginatus) on the
wall of the house. In the evening, the moon and
Venus were again prominent in the sky (and here).
27th: Willy Wonka, the white-letter
had packed up his bags and was on the move when I found him tonight in
the meadow. For the first time, he was on a stem instead of a leaf, and
obviously going somewhere. In the past, I have found 4th instar
caterpillars to wander widely. While I was there I recorded both
serotine and common pipistrelle flying around the trees. Here is an orange
tip egg in the garden, earlier in the day.
28th: It rained today. The holly blue egg is still unhatched, though
by the spider's web.
The spider itself was nowhere to be seen. If it doesn't return to the
egg I will probably clear some of its web, so I can observe the
caterpillar when it hatches.
29th: Another rainy day, though orange tips flew briefly during the
rare spells when the clouds parted. The spider guarding the holly blue
egg was again nowhere to be seen so I did clear some of its web from
the holly flowers, revealing the egg
and I hope allowing it the opportunity to emerge and live. I don't know
if the spider had deliberately ensnared it - but it does seem a long
time to wait for a very, very tiny meal ...
30th: Mostly a cloudy day, with short, sunny breaks. Here is a
in the Deben. A few green-veined whites flew along the banks during
warmer spells, even when the sun didn't shine. Here is an orange tip
in the garden. The holly blue egg still hasn't hatched.
May 1st: A mixture of cloudy and bright. Here and here are views
along the Deben in the afternoon. Little was on the wing. Here is a speckled wood
from near the river. Orange tips were about the only thing flying in
the garden. Here and here
are a couple of photos of a white-letter hairstreak caterpillar taken
after dark. The holly blue egg still hasn't hatched.
2nd: Bright and breezy, with a lot of cloud at times. In the afternoon
I had a look for green hairstreaks on the sandlings. I saw just one, at
some distance, nectaring
on hawthorn. Lots of peacocks
were skulking down among the dead bracken and only speckled woods were
flying normally, as if it were a warm day. In the garden, the holly blue
egg still hasn't hatched. Finally, here is an orange tip
in the garden.
3rd: A cool and windy day. In the early morning I found this orange tip
on a garlic mustard in the garden. It had evidently roosted there and
was far from being ready to fly. In the afternoon I headed out to a
site near Tunstall where I thought walls might fly. It was cloudy and
windy and in the end I saw just whites, speckled woods and a peacock.
Here is a whitethroat
singing from a telegraph wire (and here).
4th: A beautiful day
but I didn't go far. Butterflies seen included small white,
green-veined white, orange tip, speckled wood and holly blue (lots of
these in the garden).
5th: Took a new walk in the afternoon, hoping to find honeysuckle and
white admiral caterpillars. I found just a little honeysuckle and no
caterpillars. It was warm and sunny but a little windy. The only
butterflies flying were speckled wood and peacock, and a single comma.
I had hoped for green hairstreaks too at this site, but saw none. In
the morning, one of my orange tip eggs looked as
if it would hatch soon. By the evening, the caterpillar
was visible inside, fully formed, with his head at the pointy end
of the egg.
6th: When I checked in the morning, the orange tip caterpillar still
hadn't hatched. But after lunch, there he was, munching
away on his egg. By the time I returned from my afternoon walk he
had eaten all he wanted and moved to the tip of a
fruit body. Here is what remains of the egg.
I have named him Nachiketas. Our afternoon walk was on the sandlings,
where we found just one green hairstreak (and here), as well
as plenty of peacocks
and speckled woods.
7th: Just a quick afternoon walk round the local meadow, when I saw my
first broad-bodied chaser of the year - a female. I popped into some
local woods, though, on my way to the shops later, and found a small
colony of green hairstreaks. They weren't very amenable, but here and here are proof
shots. Otherwise, the only notable species were speckled wood
copper, which now seems to be out everywhere. In the garden,
another orange tip egg looks close to
8th: In the garden, two more orange tips hatched. One,
I found too late, after he had left his egg and migrated to a
fruit-body (the egg is near the bottom of the picture, on the left). He
is henceforth called Yama. The other was busy
eating his egg when I found him. His name is Śvetaketu. Nachiketas
has been moving around during the day, trying different fruit bodies -
or perhaps keeping out of the sun. He is now two days old. In the
afternoon Minnie and I went to a local heath, where we saw at least 7 green hairstreaks
at several different points around our walk (and here, and here). Little
else was flying, despite the lovely weather, but I did see a very few small coppers.
This is a viviparous female Thelaxes dryophila
under an oak leaf with her babies.
9th: Trip to a local little blue site, as one had apparently been
sighted. Despite it being a lovely day, I saw none - only a holly blue
and assorted whites. On the cycled ride, however, I did see a couple of
green hairstreaks sparring above bramble by the side of the road (near
heathland). The holly blue egg hatched today. I didn't get good photos,
as at first, when I looked at the camera screen, I thought my naked eye
had been mistaken and that what I had taken for a caterpillar was just
a bit of plant. But on examining the photos I realised I had been right
at the start. Here is about the best picture I got of him. There
is very little for this caterpillar to eat. I hope
it feeds up and moves on to a better flower head. Here is an orange
12th: A goldfinch
by the Deben, and a copper
underwing caterpillar nearby (and here).
15th: A local heathy clearing where bramble grows beneath hawthorn
produced several green hairstreaks this afternoon. They were very
inaccessible but here is a proof shot of one. There are still orange
tip eggs in the garden.
17th: Brimstone and peacock in the garden, as well as the usual holly
blues and orange tips. Here is an orange
tip caterpillar freshly moulted into 2nd instar. His old skin is
behind him and his old head in front.
18th: First small heaths of the year at two sites near
single small tortoiseshell on the wing, as well as a few peacocks.
Holly blues common, as were small and green-veined whites.
19th: Only time for a quick trip out to a local heath. Small coppers
are now common there, some looking rather worn.
It was a little too windy for the green hairstreaks, though I didn't
stay long so they might have flown. A red admiral was my first for a
while. Here is a female broad-bodied chaser (and here).
20th: Trip to the coast in the afternoon, where the first common blues
of the year were flying, in the company of holly blues. I also saw
small heaths, small coppers, small and green-veined whites and
peacocks, though on the whole little was on the wing. In the garden I
am following 8 orange tip caterpillars now. This
is the biggest of them and this
one of the younger ones - recently 2nd instar. Just one is still 1st
25th: A hot, sunny day. I the morning, I cycled to a local little blue
site, where I saw at least half a dozen individuals, including one female.
Here is another male.
There is no doubt these insects were introduced, but they are
apparently thriving and a delight to see. Also flying were common
blues, brimstones, my first brown argus of the year and small and green-veined
orange tip caterpillars in the garden.
31st: An afternoon trip to local heathland. Surprisingly little was
flying but I did see several green hairstreaks, including at least
three females apparently looking for places to lay on bramble. I'm not
sure, though, as I didn't find any eggs and they were poking the
unopened bramble flowers with their probosces. Here is one,
who soon flew
away, and here another. I think this is a male
(his proboscis is visible in other pictures - it only appears to be
missing here!). Other species seen on the heath were a single holly
blue and a couple of small coppers. Earlier in the day I found this brown argus
in the garden.
1st: A 7-spot ladybird pupa in the garden.
2nd: A 7-spot
ladybird pupa (and here) on nettles in the garden. There are dozens
of these all over the nettle patch.
4th: The moon over
the meadow on our evening walk. It is still daylight after 21h00.
5th: I have installed a cage for the only orange tip
caterpillar still surviving (Śvetaketu). So far, he doesn't seem to have noticed what
I have done for him and has just carried on
eating on his newly potted garlic mustard. 8th: Śvetaketu was still
feeding this morning. By afternoon he had begun wandering in his
new environment, I hope looking for a place to pupate. Here is a female
emperor dragonfly, photographed in the woods this afternoon.
spent all day silking up a place on a dry twig I had put in his cage
with the garlic mustard. By 17h30 he had done the hard work and let
himself go, suspended around his midriff by silk. His
embryonic wings are already clearly visible, as shown in this closer
crop. I hope he will pupate tonight or tomorrow.
10th: Śvetaketu this morning,
and this afternoon (with a close-up of his future
wings). By evening he still hadn't pupated, so I think he is
waiting for cover of darkness. This is the latest
picture I took of him, at about 17h00.
11th: A wet night. Shvetaketu was still a (very wet) caterpillar
this morning and remained so all day.
12th: In the morning, Shvetaketu
was still a caterpillar, though noticeably different from before. His
wing buds had glassed over, his prolegs had retracted and he had begun
to split at the tail end. A little after midday, he
shed his skin. In this
photograph the skin is half-way down his body and in this one it is dangling off his tail end by a silk
thread. After the skin had dropped off completely, a small, red-banded insect (and here)
crawled onto the pupa. I blew it off in case it was a parasite but
later learnt it was a thrips nymph and quite harmless to him. By 13h30
the transformation was complete and Shvetaketu was a fully formed pupa.
13th: Shvetaketu today. The first meadow browns were on
the wing in the garden and there were small coppers
on the heath - no green hairstreaks, nor yet any silver-studded blues.
admiral was in the garden at lunchtime.
14th: A meadow
brown in the meadow.
15th: Shvetaketu today, now subtly but noticeably a
18th: I've had glimpses of probable white-letter hairstreaks darting
around with the flies and beetles at the top of the local elms for the
last couple of days, but today I saw two unmistakable males briefly
sparring. They landed out of sight in the canopy and I couldn't locate
them on photos. I can at least confirm they are on the wing.
19th: Śvetaketu has now turned completely beige. The
transformation has been taking place incrementally over the last few
20th First ringlet of the year, in Woodbridge. My bicycle is being
serviced so I am unable to travel for the time being.
22nd: Meadow browns are now common. Here is a female.
23rd: Fresh, hutchinsoni
commas are suddenly everywhere. It has been hot and sunny every day for
a while. Here is the new moon this evening.
24th: Every time I pass the master elm in the meadow, I look for
white-letter hairstreaks in the canopy - and invariably see between one
and four. They always seem to land out of sight. I point the camera and
shoot, but until today nothing was visible in the picture. Today, by a
similar blind point-and-shoot, I photographed a male
25th: In late morning, about 4 white-letter hairstreaks were sparring
for sunspots in the canopy of this elm. The arrow in that last picture
shows where one landed, sufficiently visibly for me to get this shot.
It is a male. I have yet to see a female. In the afternoon, I walked to
Martlesham to pick up my bicycle, continuing on to the heath, where I
looked for silver-studded blues. I saw at least half a dozen males. All
of them, like that one, had very narrow borders on the forewings. Here
is a different
individual - much more worn. Also flying were my first small
skippers of the year.
26th: The day began with rain but this cleared and I cycled to Ipswich
to see marbled
whites at site where although introduced they are now breeding
naturally. Here is a female.
This has not been a Suffolk butterfly since the 19th century, for no
obvious reason, but I suspect this colony will thrive and spread more
widely. Here is another with an Essex skipper. Essex skippers were
locally abundant at the site, buzzing around many of the concentrations
of wildflowers. Here and here are
two shots of a different individual, and here another one.
Other species seen included large white, small white, meadow brown,
ringlet and small copper. I saw another lycaenid disappear into a low
bush but the view was too brief and not good enough to identify it. In
the garden, at least two hutchinsoni
skipper in the local meadow.
3rd: Windy but mostly sunny. My first gatekeeper of the year flew
through the garden in the afternoon, without stopping.
4th: A walk on local heathland/woods. Although it was overcast and
windy - even raining as I left home - plenty of species were on the
wing. These included my first grayling of the year (and here),
spotted high in an oak tree (it never came down) and my first large skipper
- which had evidently been on the wing a while. Other butterflies were small white,
green-veined white, red admiral, peacock, comma (at least four hutchinsoni individuals), small skipper,
and small copper. I saw a holly blue flying as I cycled to the woods
and a large white in the front garden in the morning making this a
fourteen-species day, despite the awful weather. Cinnabar
moth caterpillars were abundant on the ragwort.
5th: Sunny but mostly very windy on the heath today. I saw several
purple hairstreaks high in oaks - at least half a dozen and probably
more - but photography was very difficult with the branches blowing all
over the place. Here
is the only half-decent record shot I got. I was surprised to see just
one silver-studded blue. It was a female, skulking around low in
undergrowth, near heather - but not laying (nor ever opening her wings
very much). She was strikingly blue on the upperside hindwing. The
colour extended to both sides in the same way, and her body was quite
blue too. Other butterflies flying were small skippers, large skippers,
lots of small coppers and some meadow browns.
6th: Poor weather has now settled in.
8th: Here is a female, second generation holly blue, settled on ivy near
the river. It was cloudy and she never opened her wings. Here is a ringlet
from the same walk.
10th: Mostly cloudy with sunny intervals. In the afternoon I took
Minnie to the Deben. High in an ash tree near elms (where I had been
looking for white-letter hairstreak caterpillars earlier in the year) I
could see hairstreaks, some of which looked from their flight and
behaviour to be white-letter. Lots of 60x photos later, more or less
pointing and clicking at where I saw things land, I confirmed female
(that was the best proof shot). I saw probably half a dozen in total,
as well as several purple hairstreaks and holly blues. There, as well
as a little closer to the river, lots of commas, large skippers,
red admirals, large whites, ringlets, meadow browns and gatekeepers
were on the wing, despite the very iffy weather. Walking back to where
I had left the bike I found another place where about half a dozen
purple hairstreaks were flying. This is a spot I have found eggs in
previous years (2010 and 2011) but not recently. This is a female
full of eggs, who seemed to be intent on laying, though she was far
away and it was very windy, so it was difficult to study her.
11th: Partly sunny, partly cloudy, but no rain. It was cloudy during
our morning dog-walk, when I photographed this gatekeeper
and this brown
argus (and here)
in the meadow. Later in the morning I cycled to Tunstall to look for
white admirals. As I reached the forest, I spotted a purple hairstreak
flying into the trees. When I arrived at the first likely spot for
white admirals it was cloudy and I saw very little, but as soon as the
sun came out all sorts of butterflies emerged from the woodwork. These
included large skipper, small skipper, large white,
small white, gatekeeper, comma,
peacock, red admiral, meadow brown, ringlet, small copper (though that photo was taken before
the sun came out) and - I'm happy to say - white admiral.
That one was in quite good condition. All the others I saw were very
much the worse for wear, suggesting they have been on the wing a while.
Here, here and here are
some photos. Elsewhere on the walk, small coppers were very common, as
were ringlets and meadow browns.
12th: In the morning, in a meadow by the river, I watched a female purple
hairstreak oviposturing on sweet chestnut (and here). It
was cloudy and windy, then as soon as the sun came out she paused and sat on a
before disappearing out of sight, higher up the tree. I couldn't see
any eggs, but all this was taking place some distance above my head and
it was impossible to search. For the moment, I can't say if this was
ovipositing or merely oviposturing. This was the same site where I saw
white-letter hairstreaks on 10th, and I had come to see if any would
come down in the morning. None did - but the weather was not very
suitable. However, I went back in the afternoon and at 14h45, female white
letter hairstreaks did start coming down to feed on bramble. I saw
at least half a dozen and photographed four different individuals (here, here and here are
the other three I photographed). Other species seen there and nearby
included holly blue, gatekeeper,
meadow brown, ringlet, small and large skippers, peacock, red admiral
and small and large whites. In the meadow in the early morning I saw
brown argus and small copper.
13th: Visited local woodland in the afternoon. Along the bramble rides,
peacocks were nectaring
in their dozens, along with red admirals,
- huge, golden
hutchinsoni commas zooming
around like fritillaries), small coppers,
small and green-veined whites, meadow browns and ringlets, a few
gatekeepers and a good numbers of small skipper. At one point, I saw a
purple hairstreak disappear up into an oak, but otherwise these were
surprisingly absent. Finally, as the sun went in, I spotted a male
silver-washed fritillary (and here)
nectaring on the bramble with peacocks. I got a couple of
'through-the-vegetation' shots before he was up and off. It was cloudy
by then and I didn't see him again.
14th: An afternoon trip to the same site as yesterday produced another
At the time it was cloudy and he was nectaring in the shade, hence the
poor quality of photo. But he is clearly a different individual from
the one seen yesterday. I also saw a white admiral at the same site.
Other species flying and/or nectaring were red admiral,
peacock, gatekeeper, meadow brown, ringlet, comma, small copper, brown
argus (on a different part of the site), small skipper and large
15th: Before breakfast, I cycled out to where a friend had found a
fledgling turtle dove. He was there to meet me, and showed me the bird
- which I would have had great difficulty spotting on my own. Here, here, here, here
are some shots of it. A silent adult - which we presumed to be the proud
mother, as the father has been heard purring in recent days - arrived
while we were there.
16th: Revisited the silver-washed fritillary woods without seeing one.
I did, however, see another white admiral, albeit briefly. It was
mostly cloudy, though warm, and less was flying. Here are two peacocks
17th: An afternoon trip to the woods where I have been seeing
silver-washed fritillaries. I briefly saw a single one, but not at
rest. Other than that there were again lots of huge hutchinsoni commas pretending
to be fritillaries (and here),
as well as peacocks, red admirals and all the species seen yesterday
except for white admiral. In addition, I saw a lot of purple
hairstreaks. Many were high up in the oaks or flying across the rides
then up into the trees, but one came briefly
to ground, to take minerals, then spent a little time nectaring at
(rather inaccessibly, unfortunately for the photos!). I searched again
for white admiral eggs on honeysuckle but found none. At one point I
had a magnificent view of an emperor dragonfly, but just as I clicked
the shutter he swivled round the bramble stem he was on and I got a photograph
of his underside!
18th: In the morning, found a white-letter
in the local meadow. I still haven't seen any adults come low at this
site, though I saw one high in the tree both times I passed today. I
didn't get a photo and don't know the sex. In the afternoon I visited
my other Woodbridge white-letter hairstreak site, hoping to see them
come down again. In about 30 minutes of watching, none came down. I saw
at least one and perhaps more high in the ash tree, but there were lots
of purple hairstreaks in the same tree, as well as holly blues flying
around up there, so I couldn't assign every fleeting view of a
is a very poor photo of one of the purple hairstreaks, high in the
canopy. The brambles were covered in red admirals, peacocks, large and
small skippers, gatekeepers, meadow browns, ringlets and commas, as
well as large, small and green-veined whites. There were a few small
coppers there and in the meadow.
19th: Cloudy all day and raining all morning. I found two more white-letter
hairstreak eggs (and here
- a different egg) in the local meadow. It cleared up in the evening
and I went out to photograph comet Neowise. It is faint, and the sky
was still bright while it was high, but I got a few record shots. Here
is a wide-angle
view of the comet over Woodbridge, from the Deben. Here it is
St Mary's Church (illuminated, on the right), and here it is over the Old
Rectory. This shot was taken from Fen Meadow
20th: Largely sunny but cooler - and cloudy for most of my woodland
walk in the afternoon. The brambles are mostly over there and much less
is flying. Still good numbers of peacocks - but not crawling over every
bush as they were recently - and red admirals, but fewer of most
things. Here are a mating pair of gatekeepers from our garden, a ringlet
from the woods and a hutchinsoni
comma in the garden.
21st: In the woods, a female purple hairstreak came low and settled
briefly on bracken. She then dropped
to the ground, where I could see she was carrying an acarian
parasite. I don't think these do them any harm. This is a forest cuckoo bee
22nd: This female
was flying in the meadow this morning. I visited a silver-studded blue
heath in the afternoon, in case I should be granted a last audience
with one. No! They seem to be finished there ... Hutchinsoni
commas are still abundant everywhere there is bramble. I filled up
the garden pond in the evening and found it full of frogs (and here) -
trying to get out, I think, as the level had dropped below where it was
easy. When the pond was full again, this frog
took advantage and was the first out!
23rd: A river walk in mixed weather. Meadow browns, ringlets and
gatekeepers, small and green-veined whites, red admirals and peacocks, hutchinsoni
commas, small coppers and small
skippers were all on the wing.
24th: This pair of mating small whites was in the meadow in the
morning, as well as this small copper and this male
25th: A heathland/woodland
walk in the afternoon. In mixed weather, a fair few butterflies were
flying and nectaring on the bramble, including meadow brown,
gatekeeper, ringlet, grayling (just one - and it didn't pause or
nectar), comma, red admiral, peacock, small skipper, large skipper, small copper
and the usual whites.
26th: Mixed weather again: warm, but with mixed cloud and sun. In the
woods the usual mix of species was flying, including this single grayling,
admiral and this ringlet. Common
darters are now becoming common. This female
gatekeeper was in the garden in the morning.
27th: Grey weather, with occasional rain. Here are a few goldfinches,
including one of this year's youngsters, by the river.
29th: Often sunny, especially in the afternoon. I visited a good
white-letter and purple hairstreak site in Woodbridge and saw plenty of
purple, as well as at least one probable white-letter - all distant, at
the tops of trees. The only hairstreaks I could see in my max. zoom
point-and-shoot shots were purple. Here is
one, heavily cropped (she was in a corner of the picture - I was
focusing elsewhere). Still lots of hutchinsoni
commas about and lots and lots of holly blues, but generally
butterflies much reduced from before the cold weather.
30th: A last trip to my favourite woodland site,
before leaving on holiday tomorrow. It was a lovely, hot day, but very
little is now flying in comparison to even a week ago. The thousands of
peacocks are reduced to a handful. There were very few skippers flying,
and most of the meadow browns were looking rather worn. Graylings
becoming commoner and commas are still common. I saw a few purple
1st: Arrived in Málaga at 13h00 (on time) and reached the hostal by
14h30. I immediately set off for some city flower beds to see what was
flying in town. The answer: lots and lots of Lang's short-tailed blues.
For the most part, they weren't settling at all but I did spot this female laying.
Here is her egg. It was very hot and butterflies in general
were hiding. Along the river, monarchs
were roosting in deep shade and I saw little else, apart from a few
Bath whites, a clouded yellow, some small/southern small whites, a few
Austaut's blues and some possible Mediterranean skippers (never
settled). As I climbed
up into the hills
it was 37 degrees and by the time I came down it was 38. Butterflies
don't fly in these temperatures! I'll be up into the hills tomorrow
morning to see what is really here.
2nd: The day was forecast to be hot and really was! It was 33°C when I left the hostal in the morning, 36°C as I climbed into the hills and 41°C
for most of the afternoon. Nevertheless, I walked over 30km in search
of butterflies and found a fair few, despite the disabling heat. Before
heading up I saw a couple of monarchs in town. During the climb it was
brown argus, Austaut's blue (Polyommatus
Bath whites and clouded yellows, with a female meadow brown seen near
the bottom. But when I reached my hilltopping site, lots more appeared.
- at least half a dozen and perhaps more. They were zooming around,
often checking me out, but occasionally resting too (on the qui vive!) Also hilltopping
scarce swallowtails, walls and long-tailed
blues. During the walk I saw a few southern
gatekeepers, quite a lot of striped graylings and lots of small coppers
and southern brown arguses. At my lunch stop - when I thought I would
have to give up and go home, because of lack of water - I found a fig tree laden
with delicious, ripe figs and a small stagnant but
from which I purified a litre and a half of water, so I was safe for
the rest of the day. At the same site were small coppers, southern
brown arguses, Austaut's blues and two Carcharodus
skippers (and here)
that to the naked eye looked very reticulate beneath. I took them to be
southern marbled skippers - they never showed the uppersides. However,
examining the photographs, I can see I was overambitious - they are
false mallow skippers. I didn't realise the veins on this species could
be so bright.
3rd: After such a heavy day yesterday in the heat, and with bloody,
blistered feet (from boots a size too small!), I decided to take it
easy today. In the morning I had a wander around Málaga, including the
old town - here is a squirrel in the castle grounds. As before, there
were lots of Lang's short-tailed blues and also a few African grass
blues in flower beds in the city. Here is an Iberian
scarce swallowtail. Everyone is masked, even the statues!
In the afternoon I took the train along the coast a little to try a
different walk. It was the heat of the day and little was on the wing,
but I did see my first sage skipper
- a rather worn individual - and several dusky heaths, none of which
stopped for proper pictures. There were quite a few speckled woods in
the shadier parts of the walk and several walls. Striped graylings and
small coppers were common throughout. I spent a lot time trying to
string a meadow
brown into an oriental meadow brown, but it resisted and is
definitely a male meadow brown! There were several Cleopatras
drifting around, males and females, and I saw a single cardinal
nectaring in the shady part of a bush - and constantly moving, so no
opportunities for good shots. The few low nectar plants attracted a lot
of small coppers, southern brown arguses and Austaut's blues.
4th: My only cloudy day of the trip. I revisted the site I had visited
yesterday, seeing mostly the same insects despite the cloud - but some
of them actually opened up! Here is a wall, here a
small copper and here a much fresher sage skipper. This is a striped grayling,
and this an Austaut's
blue (and here).
I also tried a new track I hadn't walked down before, and as I walked
back up it the clouds suddenly cleared and the sun came out.
Immediately, I found geranium bronzes, African grass
blues, southern brown arguses, small coppers and best of all,
skippers. Here, here, here
are shots of male Mediterranean skippers. Here is a female.
These were amazing butterflies. The males perched on rocks and stones
at ground level, zooming off at incredible speed after any passing
insect and usually returning to the same spot, or somewhere near. The
single female I saw briefly did the zooming off bit but not the
returning! Geranium bronzes were mostly engaged either in courting
or nectaring - I think this must be the equivalent of a lek. I have
certainly never seen the species so active.
5th: Revisited yesterday's area and also took a cablecar onto high
ground to see if anything different flew up there. First, I called into
the Mediterranean skipper spot, where I found them again. This one
- and here face on!)
shows pale spotting on the underside of the hindwing and near the costa
of the forewing. Walking in the lower hills, I saw lots of striped graylings,
speckled woods, walls and dusky heaths. The main Lycaenids were
southern brown argus and small copper. Near the peak, after taking the cable car,
I saw many more of the same, but including also more southern
gatekeepers. There were sage skippers up there and I briefly saw
another Carcharodus species -
presumed tripolinus. Right at
the peak, swallowtails
and Iberian scarce swallowtails were hilltopping, with a couple of
long-tailed blues. I encountered these spiny-footed
lizards everywhere (and here).
Back in Málaga, I decided to try once more for desert orange tips.
Again, despite finding the foodplant and suitable habitat, I drew a
blank, and concluded I was in the wrong place or there at the wrong
time. Then amazingly, I suddenly spotted a tiny, white butterfly
motoring up the hill and past me. I sprinted after it, convinced it was
desert orange tip, even though the orange was not visible, and so it
was - a beautiful, fresh male! It only posed for a short time, and
rather inaccessibly, some distance off the track, but I got a few shots
before it continued on its way and disappeared into the trees. So desert orange
tip (and here)!
6th: Had a morning search for desert orange tips, finding none but
locating a lot of their foodplant, caper.
Afterwards, I did a small climb locally (the structures in this picture show
there used to be a river here), finding very few butterflies in the
heat but locating a small group of false mallow
skippers (and here). They were active as I climbed up but
nowhere to be seen as I came down again, when it was hotter.
7th: My last day in Spain, so despite blisters and bloody feet I set off into the hills for a 40km
walk, taking in all my favourite places (here and here, for
example). Lots of southern gatekeepers (and here) on
the way up and at the top, and again lots of striped graylings
lurking by the tracks and in the shade. Here is a Bath white
- the commonest Pierid today. The second commonest Pierid was clouded
yellow: I managed to catch this fluke upperside
shot of a male. The commonest Lycaenid was small copper, with
southern brown argus a close second, but I also found a couple of Lang's
short-tailed blues up in the hills. I explored some grassy areas,
hoping for a few different species, and found my first (and only) lyllus small heath of the trip.
Near a water trough were some dragonflies, including this mating pair
of mating epaulet
skimmers, Orthetrum chrysostigma,(and here) and
dropwing, Trithemis kirbyi.
This is essentially an African species but seems to have colonised
southern Spain recently. It is only shown for North Africa in the
books. Other species included hilltopping two-tailed pashas (in context),
and Iberian scarce
swallowtails (that one a bit worse for wear!). There were a few
sage skippers and I was happy to see a chamaeleon
very briefly, before she (I suspect it was a female, on the ground for
laying) disappeared into an olive tree. Back down the hill, I went for
a final desert orange tip hunt, to the same place I saw the male two
days ago. No more adults, despite an extensive search, but I was very
happy to find this egg on the upperside of a caper leaf. I know where
to look in future visits and will spend more time on this lovely
8th: Up at 03h00 to be at the airport at 04h00. We were instructed to
be there 3 hours before our flights because of security delays, but
there were none and the flight left on time, arriving in the UK half an
hour early. Now house arrest for 14 days!
10th: Day three of house arrest! A hot and sunny day. In the garden,
holly blues, meadow browns, gatekeepers, small coppers
whites were all flying.
13th: Day six of house arrest! It has been hot and sunny since my
return. Most butterflies have been hugging the shade. A female holly blue
has been on the ivy, deep in the shade, every day for the lst three
days, and I hope she intends to lay there: there are lots of ivy
flowers to lay on.
14th: Have been using quarantine to update all species pages on my site
with descriptions and maps. In the garden, holly blues, large and small
whites, gatekeepers and the occasional small copper are the only
hasn't had a walk away from the house since I got back from Spain.
Fortunately, she is a small dog and the garden is big. Just large
whites, small whites and holly blues in the garden.
18th: Here is a small white in the garden. 11th day of quarantine.
19th: An immature
male common darter
in the garden. In the evening, completed last species page, so all now
have a description and map, as well as more recent pictures.
20th: A sunny day. In the garden, on day 13 of house arrest, I saw holly blue,
small copper, large white, small white and speckled wood. I Also found
holly blue egg on ivy. Several of the ivy buds nearby had been nibbled,
but one seem to be tunnelled. I imagine (hope) there is a tiny holly
blue larva in there. Here is a migrant hawker from the morning.
21st: Last day of quarantine. In the morning, I was very happy to find
a freshly moulted 4th instar holly blue caterpillar (and here,
on ivy in the garden. He (or she, of course) spent all day gently
wandering from ivy flower to ivy flower, all in the same flowerhead, nibbling
at each of them in turn. This picture shows the effect
of his feeding
on the flowers (he is on one of the flowers towards the back). After
dark, I searched for more by UVA torch and found two more: a large, 4th instar
caterpillar (and here) and a tiny, 2nd instar
22nd: Yesterday's first holly blue caterpillar
had moved to a different crown of ivy by this morning and had moved
again by this evening, to a flowerhead some distance away. The 2nd instar
caterpillar was in the same place this morning as last night. The
late 4th instar caterpillar I found last night was on the move
this morning. Over the course of about half an hour I followed him as
he wandered, looking for fresh flowers, trying some, rejecting them,
moving on and finally settling on a small but tender and fresh head of
young flowers. Here,
are some pictures illustrating his quest. He ended up very close to the
2nd instar caterpillar. Here are the two of them
in the same shot. And finally, the path he
followed while I watched.
23rd: In the morning, I could locate just two of my holly blue cats:
instar (the first I found) and this 3rd instar
(which was 2nd yesterday). The largest 4th instar caterpillar had
disappeared. Interestingly, he had been reflecting deep violet under
UVA last night, while the younger ones reflect bright white-green. I
suspect he has gone off to pupate. By this afternoon and evening, I
could still locate only the 3rd instar cat, but after dark found a
further caterpillar I believe to be freshly
moulted 4th instar. Of the four holly blue caterpillars I have
found, three have been on this ivy bush. A few rather worn holly blue adults
flew through the garden - this is a male.
Here is a small
copper on what used to be our lawn - now a dusty prairie of dead
grass - and here a small white
from the garden. It was mostly overcast today, raining later, but in
the woods in the afternoon a few species were on the wing, including
small white, red admiral and meadow brown.
24th: Three holly blue caterpillars still locatable this morning. Here
is one of them, perfectly camouflaged in an ivy crown (and here),
and here another.
Too a walk along the river in the afternoon, where small whites were
the commonest butterfly. Here is a female laying an
egg - you can see another egg on the leaf above her. She laid a lot
of eggs very raidly while I watched, some on or near
flowers and some on leaves. There were lots of other, older eggs on
the plants too, identifiable because they were already yellow.
Some leaves had more than one egg.
I think the plants were some cultivated brassica gone wild and to seed
along the river. The only other species flying was small heath.
25th: After storms and heavy rain last night, continuing into today, no
holly blue caterpillars were to be seen this morning. Instead, here is
hairstreak egg, from our morning dog-walk, and a gleaming small copper
in the garden during one of the afternoon sunny spells.
26th: More heavy rains and high winds overnight, bringing down our
beanpoles. Repairing these in the afternoon, I noticed a female
in a weedy vegetable bed near the tomatoes. She was repeatedly laying
on some small crucifer - I couldn't see what at the time as I was
working with the beans. But I had a look afterwards and found plenty of
fresh, white eggs
on what I think is shepherd's purse. As it is likely this patch will be
reworked before the summer is out, I decided to repot a few plants with
eggs on and keep an eye on them. Here are the
potted plants - 5 eggs in total, 3 on the upperside of leaves and 2
on the underside.
I'll keep a careful eye on the caterpillars. If the potted plants don't
thrive, I'll transfer them to wild plants. If they do, I'll try and
follow them through to pupation, sourcing more plants as required. Also
in the bed while I did the beans were two small whites
- a female who looked as if she was laying (but on what?) and a male
who was interested in her. Earlier in the day I watched geriatric
holly blues (and here), apparently seeing out their dotage in
27th: The potted crucifers survived their uprooting and seem to be
thriving. All five eggs are still white, confirming (I think) that they
are all green-veined whites. In the meadow, I found a new white-letter
hairstreak egg. Mostly overcast today, with rain in the afternoon.
28th: A day of rain and sun. A few butterflies braved it, including
copper (and here) and this speckled wood.
In the weedy flower patch, a female small white
was laying eggs on the same plants as the green-veined white yesterday.
I think they are not shepherd's purse but some kind of rocket - only
the basal leaves are on show at the moment. I took one plant with a
small white egg and put it with the others. I also collected some more
plants without eggs, so I would have more to feed the caterpillars when
they get bigger - leaving enough for any wild caterpillars if the patch
survives. A female large white was laying eggs on our curly kale. I
encouraged her to move off but will protect the few eggs
29th: Cool all day, with quite a lot of rain. I moved the potted
crucifers with eggs (9 eggs, of which at least one is small white and
most green-veined whites) to a breeding
cage, which in turn I put in the current cage. It will get plenty
of sunlight there. The plants are annual wall
rocket. Few butterflies braved the cold - mostly whites - but I
found this 22-spot ladybird (and here)
in the fruit cage.
30th: Again cool, with a little sun and a little rain. The green-veined
white eggs are currently a delicate yellow colour (and here).
The one I believed to have been laid by a small white (she was
definitely a small white, and I thought I'd found her egg) is still
white. Because of the cold I don't expect them to hatch quickly. A few
whites were on the wing today, whatever the weather, and I saw a single
red admiral by the river.
31st: Mostly overcast with some sun. This is the view over the heather and bracken
in the afternoon. Little was flying but I did track down a single grayling
resting at the base of a tree trunk and a few small coppers.
None of the green-veined white eggs have hatched yet.
1st: The month began bright and sunny but it was cloudy by the
afternoon. This fresh comma - the offspring of the summer's abundant hutchinsoni
brood - paid a brief visit to our back garden. He will be in
hibernation soon. Otherwise, whites and a red admiral were on the wing.
The green-veined white eggs haven't hatched yet. Here and here are
two shots of the same egg. The full moon
shone bright during our evening walk and Jupiter and Saturn lay low in
the east. When I got home, I went out to see if the superzoom camera
could resolve Saturn's rings - and discovered to my amazement it could.
Here and here are two
different crops of the same photo.
2nd: Mostly a working day - unfortunately, because it was sunny much of
the time. Here is a comma in the woods, feeding up on blackberry juice
before hibernation, and here a 22-spot
ladybird, also in the woods.
3rd: Still no eggs hatched. It was warmer today, but cloudy and mostly
rainy too. Here's Minnie on her evening walk among the peaceful
4th: In the morning, no eggs had hatched, though one looked damaged and
probably won't hatch. Others looked ready to hatch.
By late afternoon, several seemed to have hatched. I could find just
on the underside of a leaf (I didn't look hard, as I didn't want
accidentally to squash a caterpillar while handling the leaves - they
are really tiny). The pitting is his feeding marks. Here is where his egg was:
he has completely eaten it. There was an egg beneath the same leaf,
which has also gone, but just the one caterpillar - so I don't really
know which egg he came from. In the afternoon I went looking for white
admiral caterpillars, without finding any. I did see this strange
in a silked-up fold in a honeysuckle leaf though. I respected its
privacy, so don't have any better pictures. Butterflies flying included
a single peacock and probably a grayling. Here is Minnie in the
here and here
are three first instar green-veined white caterpillars. I think only
one egg still has to hatch, apart from the damaged egg. This is the larva
of a 22-spot ladybird
- I removed it from the cage with the larvae in case it preyed on them!
In the morning, speckled woods and red admirals were flying in the
meadow, and the usual whites and a holly blue or two in the garden. In
the woods I saw a single grayling and a few small coppers,
though at that stage of the afternoon it was mostly cloudy.
6th: Mostly sunny. Still holly blues, speckled woods, red admirals,
small coppers and whites (here is a male small white)
around, but butterflies are thin on the ground. Here and here are
some green-veined white caterpillars this morning, and here one freshly hatched
and eating its egg in the afternoon. This is a goat moth
caterpillar, seen on a road near the river.
7th: A green-veined
white caterpillar this morning (and here).
These first instar caterpillars achieve their camouflage by being
transparent, so the green leaf they eat shows through them.
8th: Of 7 green-veined white eggs hatched, I could find 5 caterpillars
today, of which one is here. Not far away, on the curly kale, these large
white eggs were maturing - and three more here.
By the river, there are still a few small heaths
around, as well as green-veined whites, small whites
9th: At least some of the green-veined white caterpillars have moulted
into 2nd instar. This one is sitting by his moulted skin - and a
great deal of frass. This one looks similar in appearance but there is
no moulted skin nearby. Here and here
are some freshly hatched large white caterpillars. It was mostly a
lovely day today, with some cloud.
In the garden, small, green-veined and large whites were flying, as
well as a single red admiral near the house. Speckled woods were still
sparring on the meadow and there were commas
flying in the woods. I searched for purple hairstreak eggs on trees
where I had seen females in good numbers earlier in the year but saw
none. Perhaps they lay higher up the trees in England than in
Switzerland, where they are easy to locate on low, accessible branches.
10th: A beautiful day but I had very little time to enjoy it. Here is
one of the green-veined
photographed late in the afternoon. Earlier I did get out to the heath,
where few butterflies were on the wing but lots of dragonflies,
When I got back to the garden I saw a dragonfly on the wing I could not
identify at all: not big, but slim and dark, with a pale tip to the
abdomen. I watched for a while in case it would stop, then turned to
get my camera and never saw it again.
11th: For the record, here and here
are two of the green-veined white caterpillars. They are now about 5mm
long. In the afternoon I took Minnie to wooded heathland, where the
only butterflies flying were a few very aged
graylings (and here, flat against birch bark to get the sun) and
coppers. Common darters were everywhere, but no other
dragonflies so far as I could see. This very distinctive tree
must have a history!
12th: A beautiful day, though unfortunately we were not able to get out
until late afternoon, when the woodland rides were already in shade.
This world-weary holly blue was flitting about the track (and here)
but there were few other butterflies flying apart from whites. As
always, I examined accessible oak buds for purple hairstreak eggs and
as usual found none, even where I saw lots of females earlier in the
summer. Instead, I came across several pine
ladybirds, Exochomus quadripustulatus
(and here). This is a small ladybird, as can be seen in
this wider crop,
showing it in comparison to the lobes of an oak leaf. In the garden
during the day there were whites, a rather persistent red admiral and
in the evening a peacock. Here is one of the green-veined
white caterpillars. They are now munching bites out of the leaves
rather than grazing on the surface, as can be seen in this shot.
13th: A hot, sunny day. I cycled Minnie to the coast in the morning,
where the first thing we noticed were hundreds of house
martins gathering on a Martello tower, preparing to leave (and here,
Here is a short video of them. It was windy and few butterflies
were flying. Most conspicuous were the whites - small and green-veined.
There were also a fair few small heaths and I saw a peacock and a red
admiral too. This painted lady
was only my second individual for the year, I think. In the afternoon,
there was a brown argus in the garden, but it had flown by the time I
had gone in and got my camera. I was able to find 4 of my green-veined
white caterpillars. I think they are now 3rd instar.
14th: A beautiful,
warm day - but sadly I had no opportunity to get out. Here are two
of the green-veined
white caterpillars in my garden.
15th: Another hot, sunny day. I couldn't get out in the morning, but in
the afternoon took Minnie
to local heathland. There, graylings were out in force - many
dozens of them - some wooing in the shade, some sitting out in
the open. Small coppers were also abundant. Here is another male, and
here a female.
I saw a few peacocks,
a single brown
argus, a single small heath and a single comma.
Back home, the single mother of a couple of fledglings was drinking at
the water butt with them. A third fledgling had been killed in the
garden by a dog - not Minnie, I think - and one of the parents was
killed the day before yesterday. Here is one of the fledglings
drinking, and then on the roof. This is the proud - but bereaved - Mum, and
here she is rubbing
shoulders with the second fledgling.
16th: After a cloudy start, mostly a lovely day. Here, here (with
3rd instar head capsule still adhering), here (the
3rd instar head capsule is on top of the leaf at the left of the
are 6 of my green-veined white caterpillars in 5 pictures. I think they
are all 4th instar.
17th: Another cloudy start, opening up into a beautiful day.
Butterflies on the wing included large, small and green-veined whites
and speckled woods - I didn't get out to any butterfly sites. Two of
the green-veined white caterpillars were munching seeds
rather than leaves today. One of the two fledgling
in the garden is strong and independent. The other spent much of the
day on the lawn, appearing unable or unwilling to fly (though both were
18th: Still lots of graylings (and here) in
the sandlings. Also plenty of small coppers
(many much fresher than that one) and a few peacocks, as
well as a single brown argus, a single small heath and a single female common
In the garden, I repotted the three small annual rocket plants in a
larger bucket, taking four green-veined white caterpillars with them (I
think). All four were in fact in the same small pot, so I hope this
gives them more room and fresh leaf to eat. These two
were up a stem, having polished off the seeds and flowers on that stem.
was nearer the ground and got some debris on him during the move. The
fourth was beneath a low leaf. There are two more in the other big
19th: I took Minnie to the river this afternoon, and on return to the
bike found it had been stolen. Until I can get a new one, our
butterflying on the local heaths and sandlings are sadly put on hold.
Somebody must have picked up the bike, put it in a van and driven off
with it, as it was chained to itself. Although it was a sunny day, I
hadn't photographed any butterflies along the river. Here is a single
shot of a green-veined
white caterpillar this morning, perfectly camouflaged as a seed
head of annual wall rocket.
20th: One of the green-veined white caterpillars is now 5th and final
instar. Here is its shed 4th instar skin, and here is the caterpillar,
looking all fresh and hairy in a skin as yet several sizes too big.
Here is a 4th
instar caterpillar, ready to moult.
21st: Speckled woods and a single small copper in the meadow in the
afternoon, and whites in the garden. I will very soon have to think
about what to leave in the green-veined whites' cage for them to pupate
are two of the caterpillars. The second one is 5th instar and almost
22nd: In the morning it looked as if two of the green-veined white
caterpillars might be thinking about pupation, as they were clinging to
the side of the bucket
- the first time they had left the plants. By later afternoon, however,
both had gone back to leaves. In the other bucket, this one seemed to
a taste for flowers. There are three
caterpillars in this picture (one is half hidden, beneath one of
23rd: Rain all day. For the record, here are three of the
green-veined white caterpillars, and here a closer shot
of two of them. The fourth in that bucket was high up a stem,
apparently eating flowers.
24th: Rain and sun all day - raining in the evening. There is very
little rocket leaf left in the bucket with four caterpillars. This
picture shows all four of them.
The other bucket, with three caterpillars, has lots of lush rocket
leaf, so I moved three of the caterpillars into that. They are all over
an inch long and not far off pupation.
25th: Torrential rain most of the day, and cold with it. Twice, I had
to empty the swimming pool at the bottom of the green-veined whites'
cage, in case they should leave their buckets and drown! The
caterpillars themselves seemed OK, mostly lurking on or under leaves
(it's not obvious, but there are 5 of the 7 in one bucket visible in this picture).
The sole occupant of the other bucket spent most of the day up a stem.
There is just enough rocket left to keep him fed until pupation.
26th: A grey and mostly rainy day. I took this photo
in the early evening, in a dry moment. The caterpillars looked pretty
dejected most of the day but were eating and obviously alive! In the
morning, I went to the meadow without a camera because it was pouring.
A friendly squirrel sat on a log eating an acorn just a few metres away
from me and a delightful rat was scurrying around in the open. I will
make sure never to leave the camera at home again.
27th: Another grey
day (and here).
At least one of the green-veined white caterpillars is now seriously
restless and ready to pupate. I found her (it is a she) on the mesh
flap door of the cage during the day, so moved her to another part
of the mesh.
She climbed straight down and went back to the side with the door on.
Not wanting pupae on this flap, I stuck a sturdy branch in one of the
buckets and put her on this. She climbed straight down, jumped out of
the bucket and began exploring the mesh again! When I checked in the
evening she was on the clear
plastic side of the cage
(the leaves are on the other side of the clear plastic, illuminated by
the flash). I hope by morning she has settled down somewhere to pupate
... Another caterpillar seemed set up to pupate on the inside of a
bucket (and here) but had disappeared by later. Here is a male,
with his future testes visible as pale kidney marks on his
28th: A mostly beautiful
day. Here is Minnie,
taking her own time along the river wall. The wandering caterpillar
spent all day today wandering too. I place some logs vertically in the
cage, to give her something natural to pupate on. No other caterpillars
seemed to be wandering.
29th: I suddenly have doubts about whether my caterpillars are
green-veined whites or small whites. The first egg I collected was laid
but a green-veined female - I saw her lay it. The others were on the
same species of plant in the same patch. The final instar larvae,
however, all resemble small white larvae. Perhaps I will find out for
certain in the spring ... Today, all 7 of the remaining larvae were
either on the move or definitively laid up for pupation. This one
was past the point of no return. There is obviously a chrysalis beneath
that larval skin. Others were wandering alll over the buckets, the
netting and up the sides. Here, here, here, here and here are
some of them. This is a harlequin ladybird, form conspicua, from our lunchtime walk.
It was mostly a grey and sometimes wet day, though with the occasional
burst of warmth.
30th: Most of the caterpillars are still wandering over the netting and
around the buckets, with just one settled and on the verge of pupation.
her this morning and this
her this evening. Her wing cases are now visible on the thorax and the
skin behind her head is ready to split. A little sun today between the
cloud and rain, prompting a few whites and speckled woods
to fly. Along the river, birds were active in the mud, including this curlew,
and these teal.
1st: At least three caterpillars have decided where they will pupate. This one
is demonstrating the contortions required to attach the silken girdle. This one
has attached the girdle and is now producing the chrysalis within. This is the
caterpillar that has been fully silked up since 29th September,
photographed this morning, and this is the
same one at 22h00 this evening. Finally, this one,
I think, still has the option of moving somewhere else. I was able to
locate six altogether this evening, in various locations around the
cage. There should be seven in there.
2nd: Rain all day, with just occasional dry (and cloudy) spells. No
butterflies at all. The caterpillars just sat around rather miserably
all day - none had pupated by the evening.
3rd: One caterpillar has now pupated, and 6 others are scattered around
the cage. Here is the pupa. This caterpillar has attached itself to one of the
buckets. The remaining 5 (here, here, here, here and here) are all attached to the sides or ceiling of
the the cage. It means I'll have to leave it up all winter!
4th: Rain almost all day. Two more caterpillars pupated, this one
on the side of the bucket and this one
on an upright of the cage.
5th: Some long, dry spells today, and even some blue sky (and here)! One more
caterpillar pupated - here is the pupa. Here and here
are two shots of the a pupa that pupated on the evening of 3rd, after I
had already written this log. The first photo was taken that evening
and the second today. The colour difference between the two is
striking. An expert has said he thinks they are all small white, not
green-veined. I had also wondered about their identity. But the first
six were on three plants where a green-veined white was laying, and I
actually saw her lay one of them ... A female small white was laying in
the same patch.
6th: The final two caterpillars pupated today, bringing the total of
pupae to 7. Here is one, photographed during the day on the roof of
the cage, and here is the second,
photographed in the evening, by flash. The frog's eye is a water
droplet - we had torrential rain and flash floods this afternoon.
7th: Sunny most of the day. Sadly, I had to stay home, waiting around
for plumbers ... This large white passed through the front garden and
there were a few small whites around too.
8th: Another day I had to stay around the house. Cloud, rain and a
little sun. Finally, I have ordered a new bike, to replace the one
stolen on 19th September: apparently so many people took up cycling
during lockdown there were virtually none left in stock anywhere. It
may take up to two weeks to arrive, but then I will be able to take
Minnie out to the woods and coast again.
9th: The day started bright and cold but turned grim. Godwits
slept with one eye open on the estuary, while this little egret
hunted fish in the shallows.
10th: Another fairly grim day, with a torrential (but brief) hail storm
while I was out walking Minnie (the hailstones were very painful
on my head and I had to protect Minnie's head in case she got injured).
No butterflies and no photos ...
11th: Sometimes bright
in the morning but mostly cloud and rain today. No news on when the new
bike will be ready, so for the time being I can't take Minnie further
than the meadow and river.
12th: View across
the water meadows towards the river Deben, on another grey day.
13th: Grey all day, with sometimes heavy rain. No opportunities for
photos, as all my dog walks were in downpours!
14th: More grey, with some sun and some showers. Had three dogs to
walk, so no hands free for photos ...
light on the river this afternoon (and here). Here are a
and a redshank. Still no bike, so no chance of getting further
16th: All seven pupae are fully coloured up - none green any longer -
and all seem healthy. Here they all are, in no particular order: pupa 1,pupa 2,pupa 3,pupa 4,pupa 5,pupa 6,pupa 7. Their cage would be in full sun if we had any warm
weather, so I will shortly move it into the shade for the winter.
17th: I moved the cage with the pupae into a permanently
shady spot between a conifer and an evergreen (in the shadow of
both), to make sure they don't emerge early in the spring.
19th: Occasionally sunny, and a degree or two warmer than recently. I
very briefly saw what I am sure was a holly blue through the window,
but leaves were flying everywhere in the wind and I could have been
mistaken. Here is a hawthorn
shieldbug in the garden. This species hibernates as an adult and
should soon be tucking in for the winter.
22nd: Warm again, and often sunny, in stark contrast to the downpours
yesterday. In the afternoon, this peacock settled briefly in front of me, near the
recreation ground in Woodbridge.
23rd: Mixed sun and grey, with a little rain. Some birds on the river: teal, wigeon, little egret,
and lapwing, herring gull.
24th: Cloudy all
with strong winds and some rain. Along the river, I spotted a
greenshank fly over to the far bank and turned the camera on the bit of
mud where it seemed to land. The first thing I saw there, though, was a
wind was blowing so hard at that point, and it was so far away, I
couldn't relocate the ruff for a better picture, but I did pick up the greenshank
confirming the flight ID.
26th: Lovely clouds
and light over the river (and here). Here are a grey plover,
and a lapwing. November
2nd: I spotted another ringed godwit
on the Deben today (see February 1st). I sent in the last record and
was delighted to find my bird had been a regular on the Deben and in
Iceland for at least 8 years! So I have now sent in this record and
should soon learn a little more about this new bird's history. Like the
last one, this bird was feeding happily in a group.
4th: For the first time in ages, a really lovely day, though cold. I
briefly saw a red admiral in the garden, but I only spotted it as I
disturbed it and it flew over the fence. Here is a view across the Deben
from inside the water meadows, here a shot of the water
meadows and here Minnie trotting along the track behind me. On the
far side of the field away from the river a young fox
was exploring his surroundings.
5th: Another beautiful
day, but again very cold. No butterflies. Here is the moon this
6th: A glimpse of Mother Nature calling her children. And here is a rook, also on
10th: As I sat in the garden in late morning, reading, a small white
flew over and disappeared into the next-door garden. Minnie spotted a squirrel
feeding on maple seeds and clambering over the skinniest twigs. She
was sure it would fall and she could eat it but it didn't, I'm happy to
11th: Finally, I have a bike again, so Minnie and I took off to the heath this
morning, returning in time for the Armistice service. She has been wearing her
poppy all day.
14th: Light on the
river this afternoon.
19th: Low light on
Martlesham Heath this afternoon.
21st: A white-letter
hairstreak egg in the meadow this morning. In the afternoon I
spotted this kingfisher
quietly fishing in the shade, well away from the river wall where
hundreds of people were passing and walking their dogs. When it sat in
the tree it was perfectly camouflaged against the autumn leaves
23rd: Bitterly cold
in the morning (and here),
but mostly a bright, sunny day. The sun was already low by the time we got out to the
heath for our afternoon walk.
24th: Warmer today. Again, the sun was low by the time we got out for the
afternoon walk. Minnie enjoyed the smells on the heath and in the woods.
26th: Clouds over
the Deben (and here).
A little egret
with wigeons and a black-headed gull.
light over the river and an avocet in
28th: Even more
beautiful light over the river and a grey plover
on the mud.
30th: Full moon