I’m taking part in the Wildlife Trust’s challenge 30DaysWild this June. The challenge is to do something wild every day! There are lots of ideas for exploring wildlife and nature on the website and app. I like to get outdoors as much as possible but, sometimes my fatigue stops me from doing much.
Having a lot of local nature reserves is a big help! If I can manage to spend just an hour or so at Wisley or Heather Farm on Horsell Common, I feel so much better, physically and mentally. It gives me the opportunity to survey the areas for the wildlife that I love and just to breathe fresh air and relax to the peacefulness and sound of birdsong.
This male banded demoiselle was my first challenge image that I shared straight to Twitter. Everyone has really loved it so I’m sharing it again today, with a wider audience and for the ShareMondays, Wex Mondays and Fotospeed challenges.
This was the first common blue butterfly that I found this season. Late and few in numbers! It’s a worrying year for many of our insects after the late wintry weather. To make matters worse grassland, verges, parks and gardens are being cut back far too early and too frequently. There’s absolutely no need for this cutting, there’s a very important need for grasses and wildflowers. My dear friend Lou always understood the importance of letting the grasses grow and flowers bloom. The little garden that I shared with her as her lodger was a haven for wildlife. Dear Lou was terrified of frogs though, which were numerous around the garden pond! Her cat, Smudge, regularly brought frogs into the house as a gift 😂 I often came to the rescue after one of these presentations, rescuing Lou, that is, from the poor little amphibians! I still miss Lou so much but, as ever, she is still with me in my heart and memories. She used to laugh at me chasing butterflies around! She would be very amused watching me over here in Kos chasing blues and coppers around the ancient ruins. She loved coming to the Greek Islands herself so I always feel close to her here. Today is her birthday and my little blue is dedicated to her life, spirit, energy and compassion. In many cultures around the world butterflies, particularly blues, are revered as the returning spirit of a departed loved one. Save butterflies and save souls 💙
I went for a short walk with the hubby at Heather Farm yesterday to capture the fabulous skies over the Autumnal landscape for today’s Fotospeed challenge. I actually ended up with added extras to the scene that I had had in mind! The Horsell Common Preservation Society (HCPS) is based at the Heather Farm Wetland Centre near Woking in Surrey. You can see the building that they use, alongside the cafe, at the back of the landscape within my photo. The Society’s landholdings include 916 acres of high forest, woodland, meadows and lowland heath that form a part of the internationally important Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. Heather Farm riverside meadows and wetlands were developed as a SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace), which provides a less fragile landscape for people to enjoy walking through. Part of the site is now a much loved dog walking route. Dogs also receive a warm welcome, water, biscuits and towels at the Water’s Edge cafe! Owners are being asked to be extra careful with their four-legged friends at the moment. Within the fenced-off wetland area, Badger Face Welsh Mountain sheep are grazing the grasslands as part of the natural land management and conservation work done by HCPS. Larger areas of grassland within the common are grazed by Aberdeen Angus cattle. These living lawnmowers are the most natural, environmentally friendly way to manage grasses and scrub, maintaining the habitat for a large variety of wildlife. They’re also really very attractive sheep to see! On Saturday the ewes got to meet a rather important new member of this little flock. His name is Hector and you can see him just off-centre in my image. Once all the ewes have fallen pregnant this winter, the farmer who owns them will collect them from the site, so they can lamb safely in the Spring. For now they seem to be greatly enjoying their job and visitors are definitely enjoying them!
Whilst on a family day out at Newlands Corner, a beauty spot with wonderful views, in the Surrey Hills, I went butterfly chasing. I thought I’d spotted a skipper so I tried to weave my way through the brambles and nettles to get a photo. What I saw had me quite perplexed as it clearly had markings that I didn’t recognise for a skipper but was the same shape and size. I managed to get a few photos of several of them flitting among the brambles and wildflowers.
When I got home and onto the computer, I brought up the UK Butterfly and moth identification guides and got to work. It didn’t match any of the skippers, coppers or fritillaries so on the off-chance I went over to moths.
The result was thoroughly unexpected! I’ve never seen one of these little beauties before but it is, indeed, one of our day-flying moths! It’s called a Speckled Yellow, scientific name: Pseudopanthera macularia. I hope you’ll agree that it really is a little gem 🙂