“I have no particular talent, I am merely extremely inquisitive” – Albert Einstein
It’s a sunny windy February day and as the rain (I can see the dark clouds out of the window) approaches, I wonder what Storm Imogen has in store for us ? The days have become a lot brighter and lighter in the evenings too, so we’ve been looking to the summer season but with the temperatures a bit up and down I think we’ll have to wait a little for any chance to strip off or a chance to stay overnight at Arcadians.
I long to get out, I long to get away from the drudgery of constant job searching, times at the club and going out taking photos helps but it would be nice to have a real meaning in life and the benefit of a regular wage and a continuous flow of money going into my account. I love exploring nature and looking at new subjects and fields that I’ve never looked at before.
This time a year ago I’d just done a solar energy course and I was on the verge of contesting a local council election and although both were very interesting neither led to anything very positive in the great scheme of things. In this post or the rest of it I thought I’d mention,identify and describe some of the wildlife traits of those that appear in my photos, before I start to look forward to going outside again in a few days.
Owl Paper Kite
Butterflies are wonderful to look at and I’ve managed to shoot around half a dozen some while out walking…The Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell for example, others we saw at Tropical Wings the Paper Kite and Owl butterflies while some occasionally fly in through the window.
Small Tortoiseshell Speckled Wood
Of the British butterflies the two I saw are the most common. The Speckled Wood (Scientific name: Pararge aegeria) is dark brown with creamy white patches on wings. This Butterfly occurs in woodland, gardens and hedgerows. Butterflies often perch in sunny spots (as in my photo), spiralling into the air to chase each other. The aptly named Speckled Wood flies in partially shaded woodland with dappled sunlight. The male usually perches in a small pool of sunlight, from where it rises rapidly to intercept any intruder. Both sexes feed on honeydew in the tree tops and are rarely seen feeding on flowers, except early and late in the year when aphid activity is low.
The Small Tortoiseshell (Scientific name: Aglais urticae) is among the most well-known butterflies in Britain and Ireland. The striking and attractive patterning and its appearance at almost any time of the year in urban areas have made it a familiar species. It is one of the first butterflies to be seen in spring and in the autumn it often visits garden flowers in large numbers. Bright orange and black wings with white spot in forewing, this separates it from the larger and much rarer Large Tortoiseshell. It is widespread throughout Britain and Ireland, commonly found in gardens (and living rooms lol).
Flies of all kinds are less delightful to most people but some make great photos as well as providing some birds with a tasty meal. Common flies are eaten by a host of animals such as Toads, Spiders, Dragonflies, Damselflies, and Wasps also Shrews, Robins, Sparrows, Ducks and even domestic Cats.
Around or near water there are many different types of flies. Dragonflies (suborder Anisoptera) are heavy-bodied, strong-flying insects that hold their wings horizontally both in flight and at rest. By contrast, damselflies (suborder Zygoptera) have slender bodies and fly more weakly; most species fold their wings over the abdomen when stationary, and the eyes are well separated on the sides of the head. Loss of wetland habitat threatens dragonfly and Damselflies populations around the world which is such shame as they are wonderful to photograph.
My photos portray Damselflies several different kinds including a Red Damselfly pair mating in wheel formation and Emerald found near Sandford Lock down by the River Chelmer. Many damselflies have elaborate courtship behaviours. These are designed to show off the male’s distinctive characteristics, bright colouring or flying abilities, thus demonstrating his fitness. Calopteryx males will hover in front of a female with alternating fast and slow wingbeats; if she is receptive she will remain perched, otherwise she will fly off.
Metallic Green – Blue
Other behaviours observed in damselflies include wing-warning, wing-clapping, flights of attrition and abdominal bobbing. Wing-warning is a rapid opening and closing of the wings and is aggressive, while wing-clapping involves a slower opening of the wings followed by a rapid closure, up to eight times in quick succession, and often follows flight; it may serve a thermo-regulatory function. At night, damselflies usually roost in dense vegetation, perching with the abdomen alongside a stem. If disturbed they will move around to the other side of the stem but will not fly off.
Red Admiral and Postman Butterflies