Wild @ Rivers - May 2014

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Diary Entry by Charmaine Cooper


Small Tortoiseshells

After a day of rain the skies have cleared to a cloudy grey. Two grey silhouettes pass over the nursery site, their long legs stretched out behind them. The two Grey Heron call to each other as they cross the dull sky.

An unexpected early morning frost quickly melts away and the warm sunshine brings out the butterflies. Dancing along the hedgerows of the orchard’s meadow are Orange Tip, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies. The butterflies are content to search among the leaves and Hawthorn blossom until they meet an intruder on their patch, then they launch themselves into defence mode and they spiral upwards with the unwelcome butterfly. Other butterflies are searching for mates and busily pursue the females along the footpath. The air is laden with the heady scent of the Hawthorn blossom; its rich sweet nectar attracts a multitude of Bees. Song Thrushes and Chiffchaffs call from within the old nursery scrub as Rabbits dash for cover in the dense vegetation. Higher up, hidden from view in the taller trees, the shy and secretive Turtle Dove’s soft gentle purring call is a welcome sound of summer. Along the scrub’s footpath a Speckled Wood Butterfly rises up from the foliage of the Guelder Rose that is heavily budded with potential flowers. The butterfly meanders off before settling to bask in the sunlight that filters through the trees and shrubs; it is an ideal habitat for this woodland butterfly.


Speckled Wood Butterfly

Lumbering amongst the Lady’s Bedstraw plant is the large beautiful metallic blue larva of the Bloody Nosed Beetle. The non stinging flowers of the White Dead Nettle bloom on the edge of the footpath. Deeper into the undergrowth the purple delicate flowers of the Creeping Ivy are still visible. The red shiny wing cases of a Ladybird glow brightly on the dark green serrated leaves of the Stinging Nettles that lurk in a sunny corner of the scrub. These painful plants are a favourite food plant of the caterpillars of several species of butterfly.

In the orchard’s meadow the yellow heads of the Dandelion and Cowslips have withered. Now the glossy yellow petals of the Buttercup shine amongst the grass and the occasional yellow Dandelion like flower of the Goat’s Beard plant. As noon approaches the flowers of the Goat’s Beard will close up and the plant will resemble long grass until the morning when once again it will be in full bloom. Amongst the Cow Parsley and golden Buttercups a Speckled Wood butterfly sips nectar from the bright yellow flower of the Buttercup. The meadow is an oasis of beauty and calm as the Green Woodpeckers yaffle and the alarm call of the Pheasant echoes across the meadow on this warm May morning.


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