Yesterday the Red Admirals were feasting on the windfall apples, a late summer tradition in Max’s garden. I enjoy this annual event as much as the tipsy butterflies, watching them flit from fruit to rotting fruit, with the odd frisky interval. I’d best make it quite clear that it was the butterflies that were frisky, not me. Neither was I tipsy. Far from the flocking bank holiday hoards, I was content working in the warm sunshine and welcome calm, all was serene.

There was a slight blip in my tranquil day, which involved a close encounter of the slow worm kind. The accident was quickly resolved and his home reinstated. I left two juicy slugs near his disturbed front door as recompense. Hopefully I am forgiven and he has recovered from the invasion of the giant gardener.

An Education

Red admiral

It was an exceptionally wildlife-centric day yesterday.  And educational at that.

My day started with the sighting of a bird of prey emerging from a hedge, its feathered victim clasped in its talons.  After a short rest at the side of the road, and a staring competition with me, it flew off towards the cairn, breakfast in hand.  In truth it was more of a squinting contest on my part, as I was unsuccessfully trying to identify this hunter.  A dramatic beginning to proceedings.

Next, whilst on our tour of the garden, we tip-toed through the windfalls scattered beneath the apple trees.  As we walked a confetti of red admirals rose from the ground.  They spent the rest of the day gorging on the rotting fruit, each time we past by another colourful flurry rose from the ground. We imagined they were getting drunk on the fermenting cider, but that might have been an over imagination or wishful thinking.

Later, weeding the narrow border by the house, I came across a juvenile frog, full of wriggle and, hopefully, a few juicy slugs.  This bag of beans was relocated to a safe place, far from my fork.

Then Max’s dad called to me “I have found a chrysalis speckled with gold”.  He was quite right and it was stunning.  After much gawping and gasping, the Midas pupae was stowed away in a quiet corner to perform the miracle of metamorphosis.  Later I found out that the word chrysalis comes from the Greek word chrysos meaning gold.   Follow the link for more information at Ask an Entomologist  I also found out that red admiral chrysalis have gold spots, this page from the University of Florida will elaborate.

In conclusion, I would sum up as follow:  If this chap doesn’t hurry up, he is going to miss the party!


Lessons Learnt

Linaria purpurea - Purple Toadflax

Linaria purpurea – Purple Toadflax

I have got a new camera.  Someone may have noticed.  Perhaps not.  This time I am going to look after it.  No incidents with ponds or compost bins or tarmac.  Honestly, I am going to try really hard to keep it safe.  It has a brand new, pristine, case and it will live in my work bag.  Admittedly these are less than Operating Theatre conditions, but marginally better than residing in my pocket alongside associated string, half eaten humbugs, tissues, labels, seeds and mud.  This spotless camera will only be taken out when absolutely necessary.  For example, when I want to take a photograph.

Linaria purpurea, the Purple Toadflax, shamelessly spreads itself about, popping up here, there and everywhere.  In Lavinia’s Garden of Renegades it is very much at home.  On Friday, a day blessed by both sun and warmth, a beautiful Red Admiral landed for perhaps his last feast before hibernation.  By the time I had rummaged in my bag, found my camera amongst the cornucopia of very important stuff that lives there and returned, it had got bored of posing and flown to its next feeding station.  So, I’m afraid you will have to use your imagination.  Just squint up your eyes and place a hypothetical butterfly on the first flower.  This may well be happening a lot.