Gems and faded gems of meadow and heath

So my menfolk are now officially both into the school holidays! Fortunately this has arrived just after the new vicar has started to get his ‘feet’ under the parochial table, and I feel a slight sense of pressure lifting. But in some ways the balancing act of family and ministry gets more difficult – I want to increase the time I spend with the family, but I still have responsibilities to things like preaching. But that’s next week!

One of the things I really appreciate is walking our favourite routes regularly again with my husband, which means lots of time crouched over tussocks of grass, heather and the like, watching and photographing insects – especially (but not solely) butterflies. [The vicar has already spotted the blog and my thing about insects – I hope eventually I become memorable for other things as well :-)]

Six-spot burnet

First, and update on the Burnet moths which I noted on 29th June were almost non-existent. Well not a lot has changed. Just this last week, we’ve started to see the occasional one, but despite there being loads of trefoil (the main foodplant of the lava) they are still incredibly scarce this year compared to the previous two.

I really miss them as they’re such a delight, with their stuttering flight across the heath, and so vivid in their green/black and scarlet livery.

The number of ringlets in the tussocky field we frequent did eventually pick up, peaking about the 2nd July. Now though, they are almost all gone, though we did find a faded one yesterday. The contrast in the density of ‘chocolate’ colouring between early July and now, just 4 weeks later is really noticable!

Ringlet 2nd July 2011
Ringlet 29th July 2011

There are still a few Common Blue’s out on the heath, but the noticeable newcomer for me has been the Grayling. Not as startling in colour, it’s actually proved really tricky to photograph: you see it in flight, registering it as ‘different’, only to lose sight of it on landing – it’s camouflage is incredibly good, especially if it lands on a stoney footpath. I was fortunate that this one settled on some ling but even there it’s still fairly well hidden!

Common Blue
Grayling on ling (what we think of as 'heather')

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