Environment Magazine

A Walk Amongst The Butterflies

Posted on the 21 July 2016 by Ashley Crombet-Beolens @Fromanurbanlake

We have just had the two hottest days of the year, back to back, and let me be honest with you here, with temperatures hot enough to soften the black, sticky, tarmac on the local roads, a slightly chubby (I'm being polite here) lad like me often finds himself melting like the ice lollies I wish I was eating.

Today however the heat had dropped off a little and the warmth was as pleasant as you could like without it being too hot to walk, and without the humidity that sees me "glistening" the second I make any kind of physical movement.

And so it was that today I headed out onto the patch for a walk amongst the butterflies, dragonflies and birds of a British summers day.

A Walk Amongst the Butterflies

Now my usual walks have been slightly disrupted of late as I "try to catch the all", yes I have fallen fowl of the Pokemon Go craze, well my name is Ash and I did spend many hours trying to catch them in the original Nintendo games as well as watching the cartoons on hungover weekends of my youth. I now of course plan my patch walks to take in a couple of Pokestops and gyms, but thankfully that doesn't take me too far off my usual wanderings.

With that confession out of the way I will get on with the post as usual.

There is currently a buddleja coming into bloom beside the church in Old Wolverton and my first stop of the day saw me chasing a large hoverfly around trying to capture the perfect (diagnostically) photo of the huge Syrphiadae.

From there I headed through the old church yard and into the old Lock area where the butterflies suddenly became the order of the day.

Butterflies Everywhere.

It soon became obvious that I was going to struggle to count all the butterflies I'd see today, as within moments of entering the old lock area there were Meadow Browns and Large Whites fluttering everywhere (I was well into double figures of both within 5 mins!), these were joined by the odd Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Small White, Green-veined white and Red Admiral.

The odd Brimstone, was joined by tiny Small Skippers (1 or 2 Large Skippers in amongst them and my first Essex Skipper of the year briefly put in an appearance).

Every so often the whirr of a huge dragonflies wings would startle out of the weeds as a Brown Hawker would burst out and fly rapidly away from me, smaller Common Blue damselflies and the occasional Banded Demoiselle would join them on the wing, but it was the butterflies that were stealing the show.

Hawkers and Skimmers

The Wildflowers are slowly coming into bloom all over the patch and while walking through these I was pleased to be able to watch my fist Southern Hawker of the year as it patrolled over the purple flowers, hunting smaller insects to feast upon. Below more Meadow Browns we hiding in among the tall grass, fluttering in-between the tall, yellow stalks of the meadow.

Further into the nature reserve grasshoppers and crickets, sang out from their hiding places deep within the thick scrub, their legs rubbing together like a bow on a violin, calling out a tune better than any orchestra. Purple spikes of Marsh Woundwort stood out proud above the thistles and nettles and more odes and butterflies could be seen all over.

On the growing areas of mud an early migrating Green Sandpiper quickly worked its way along the waters edge, fighting its way past young Lapwing and a lone Common Snipe, while over head screeching Common Terns and returning Black-headed Gulls called out as they past.

Over the water swarms of Black-tailed Skimmer could be seen picking off midges and bugs while Grey Heron and Little Egret stabbed at passing fish. A gaggle of Canada geese, flew low over the muddy water, honking as they went, and I realised just what a special place the reserve is becoming.

More Butterflies

As I wandered along the spongey black path, small clouds of butterflies would rise out of the scrubby hedges, mainly Small Skipper (with the odd Essex Skipper added in) and Meadow Browns.

Leaving the site there is a large patch of lavender that borders the entrance road to the farm office buildings, I love to spend a few moments here after each walk, taking in the wonderful, heady scent and the visual of this mass of purple. Occasionally inter mixed with eth buzz of multiple species of bee you can spot Rosemary Leaf Beetles or, like today, some stunning large butterflies. Today there were a couple of beautiful Red Admrials posing wonderfully in the sunshine.

Old Photos

I haven't posted my last walk (or anything in July so far, not that I have done much), so here are a few from my recent wanderings.

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