Feeling better with butterflies

It’s been a stressful week and I was already feeling fragile when I woke up this morning. Then I went and logged into twitter, saw stuff that made me feel even worse and, by 8.00am, I was in tears #selfcarefail.

Determined not to spend my day off crying, I decided to go out and buy a new kettle because the old one no longer makes good tea. I walked to the supermarket and got the kettle, but I was still crying.

Luckily, we live close to an old cemetery which is also a lovely nature reserve. If there’s one thing that can usually improve my mood, it’s looking for wildlife. This is probably because it puts me back in touch with the happiest times in my childhood. It worked and I came home feeling much better.

Here are a few (not very good) photos from my nature walk.

Common Blue butterfly

So beautiful and even bluer in real life.

Image shows a British common blue butterfly sunning its wings while sitting on some dry grass. The butterfly's wings are bright blue with white edging.

Speckled Wood

Image shows a speckled wood butterfly sunning itself on a green leaf in a leafy hedgerow. It is a brown butterfly with pale yellow spots on its wings.

Gatekeeper

There were lots of these guys fluttering around, but they were very difficult to photograph. This was as close as I could get.

Image shows a gatekeeper butterfly sunning itself on a plant with yellow flowers. The butterfly is a bit distant from the camera but you can see it's orange and brown wings and brown spots on the tips.

I also saw plenty of meadow browns, large and small whites and one small skipper.

Cinnabar moth caterpillars 

There were plenty of cinnabar moth caterpillars enjoying the rag wort plants in the cemetery.

Image is a close-up of several cinnabar moth caterpillars feeding on ragwort. The caterpillars have yellow and black stripes around their bodies.

 

Home

In spring we watch for the first snowdrops. Then daffodils appear and, miraculously, the bluebell woods.  Trees bud and blossom (elderflower for the wine).  Frogspawn glistens in ponds. Magpies nest in the pine trees.  The rich smell of muckspreading carries in from the fields.  Baby lambs, chicks and calves. The swallows and swifts return.

Summer brings a floral riot: ragged robin, red campion, blue scabious, buttercups, foxgloves and queen anne’s lace. Thick, luminous green moss covers the trees that fall over the streams.  Wild strawberries and blackberries appear in the hedges; blueberries on the hills.  Mushrooms in the early morning, but do be careful.  The scent of new mown hay

Purple heather signals autumn. The scent of bonfire drifts over the first hint of frost.  Acorns, pine cones, and conkers.  People bring in sacks of apples, potatoes, swedes and turnips.  Buzzards and kites soar, watching for the young rabbits that seem to get everywhere.  The swallows and swifts take their leave of us and rain sets in.

In winter the thick mud that tourists never see.  Holly, ivy, mistletoe in the trees (it’s illegal to pick mistletoe, but somebody always does).  The frozen ponds (don’t skate on them if you value your life).  And the dark: those who grow up in the city don’t know what dark really means.  Snow in January, always.  

We wait for the first snowdrops.

A very hungry caterpillar

One thing we’re trying to do for the environment is encourage butterflies, moths and caterpillers to use the garden. 

I count this as evidence of success:

The biggest and most beautiful garden tiger moth caterpiller I have ever seen.  I’m allergic to these things so I’ll probaly regret doing this later.

Shame about the fox glove, but it’s worth the sacrifice if he grows up to become one of these: