Flying through the air in summer
Here come the butterflies searching for flowers rich in nectar
This is the Peacock with the Holly Blue butterfly
They are back! Now the buddleias are in flower the butterflies are here to drink their nectar. I especially love seeing the beautiful red ones. There are whites too, of course, they have been here for some time. We don’t like the whites as much, because they lay eggs on our cabbage plants and, when their larvae hatch, they eat the leaves. But there is another ‘white’ butterfly that has just appeared.
It is not quite white, in fact, this is the male and is very yellowy, the yellow of butter. I wonder if this where ‘butter-flies’ got their name. The female is harder to spot as she is a cream colour. I like them in the garden because they do not eat our cabbages, their caterpillars eat buckthorn leaves. Once you have seen them with their big yellow wings flopping around you will never mistake them for cabbage whites.
There is something else flopping around our garden, but this time at night. What a wonderful thing it is to sit out with a glass of wine, as I did last night. I have no meetings to go to these days and no social evenings with friends, so there I was sitting out on a warm(ish) night. A perfect end to the day just before the 10 o’clock news.
I was watching the swallows and house martins swooping in and out of the trees, round and round they went, catching flies. Then, as the light drained, there was a sense of something different. Still black flying creatures, still with fluttering wings, but these did not have forked tails. The swallows seemed to have morphed into bats and were after the same food, this time with the bonus of moths. More bats came and flew round and round the house, this way and that. Often changing their mind going one way then, in an instant, retracing their flight and doubling back. They flew lower past my face.
People often worry about bats, thinking that they will get in their hair. David Attenborough, on one of his visits to a bat cave (famously in Borneo), stood there on piles of bat droppings. He assured us that because of their accurate ‘radar’ system the bats would not bump into him. And they didn’t whilst they were filming – but recently I heard him say that, as soon as the cameras were switched off, a bat did make a mistake and crashed into him! Our bats have never crashed into me.
This morning I am sitting out again looking at our sunflowers. Their blooms are early and they are a light butter yellow, not the usual vivid yellow. I don’t remember choosing these, I must not have read the on-line catalogue carefully enough. Never mind, they are still a bright spot in my day and I am reminded that they are the exact colour of the brimstone butterfly. I am looking out for more of them this summer.
(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)