Common Blue

I only caught a fleeting glimpse of two small butterflies with blue upper wings before one of them settled on a dry stalk and displayed the patterned underside of the wings at rest – probably more beautiful than the plain blue I was hoping to photograph. You can see the pale blue hairs on the body, and I love the black and white striped antennae. From what I did see I am guessing that this is a Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) although I think there is more than one species of blue in the nature area.

Views of the Nature Area 1

While flying insect pollinators are all a-buzz in the sunlight over the wild marjoram, there are still small quantities of yellow Ladies’ Bedstraw, Toadflax is beginning to open, as well as a few remaining Knapweeds available for nectar gathering. Many of the flowers on taller stemmed plants from a month ago are developing seeds now.

14 Spot Ladybird

The semi-enclosed garden area behind Olympic Park in Charlton Down, where Buddleias growing along the side of the path and clumps of lavender and rosemary attract so many bees and butterflies, has a new attraction for wildlife. A group of small hazel bushes are providing not only a surprising number of nuts but also resting places and food for lots of insects. It is always worth a look to see what is on the leaves – like this geometrically patterned yellow and black 14 Spot ladybird (Propylea quattuordecimpunctata).

Robin’s Pin Cushion

A Robin’s Pin Cushion, otherwise known as a Bedeguar Gall, is caused when a minute gall wasp (Diplolepis rosae of the Family Cynipidae) lays its eggs in a wild rose, usually in the leaves. The plant reacts in this characteristic way to the insertion of the egg, and the response it is thought to provide more food and a better environment in which the larvae can develop when the eggs hatch out. The rose itself still flourishes, and its survival is not affected by the formation of these galls. The dog rose on which I found these brightly coloured specimens is beside one of the wooden benches that are placed around the cricket pitch in the village.

Looking at Nature a Different Way

I get enormous pleasure from being out in Nature. It is always good to look at things close-up and find out what they are. I also enjoy the wider perspective of the countryside, looking at the different kinds of habitats, and the expansive panoramas of countryside and farmland around the village. Natural patterns and textures, the finer details seen when you take time to pause, care to examine, delight me just as much. I often see fascinating small-scale structures and patterns in natural objects whether they are animal, vegetable, or mineral, and find that these natural designs resonate with me on a certain aesthetic level. This includes the silhouettes of accidental patterns made by plants against the sky. They can be difficult to discern as you walk along because of the wealth and complexity of the plant associations, but it is possible to enhance the significant features by digitally changing the image.

Wild Marjoram

Pictures of the Wild Marjoram (Origanum vulgare) at the Charlton Down Nature Reserve yesterday with a couple of the many insect visitors greedily supping up the nectar.

Skipper Butterflies

At least I think they are. And perhaps Small Skippers (Thymelicus sylvestris)? They hold their wings in an odd way at rest – unlike any other butterflies I can think of.

Large Red-tailed Bumble bee

Large Red-tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus lapidarius) going solo and filling up on the only nectar around in a field mostly containing dry grasses and docks bearing seeds. I expect this field to be cut for hay this week as it is usually the first thing to be done to ease access of machinery for harvesting the adjacent wheat.

Field in Evening Light

When the evening began to cool, the sun going down cast a rosy glow over the heads of ripe golden wheat, and made lengthening pale shadows over the crop from the trees and hedgerows, before sinking from view behind Charminster Down.

A Solitary Peacock

On my early evening stroll among drying grasses and thistledown there was just a single, solitary Peacock in the field, flitting through the tall stalks to reach the nectar in a few Ragwort flowers. This is a place where only three years ago there were clouds of many species of butterflies, bees, and other insects dancing in the air as they feasted on a profusion of flowers. I’d like to say that the scarcity of butterflies was due to the hot weather or perhaps something about that particular day, but it has been a similar situation every time that I have visited this summer, and I fear that it is more to do with the herbicide that was used two years ago.