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 💙
My specimen might be a bit tatty around his wings but these male emperor dragonflies are the real spitfires of the insect world, fighting hard and fast over their territory. He almost seems to be saluting me but I know that this behaviour is actually about cleaning and protecting those incredible and complex eyes! This close-up view was captured in the late afternoon last week, when the tired fliers start to roost in the reed beds. I’m putting this into the mix for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge.
Just had to share the sight of this juvenile grey heron fishing for newts, alongside one of the adults, in the marshland by the heronry at the British Wildlife Centre. Absolutely wonderful to watch! The heronry has a large number of nests and the herons are all very busy, building, feeding and preening. You can visit the heronry by entry to the British Wildlife Centre and a wander along their Wetland Walk. The centre is only open to the public at weekends, bank holidays and school holidays. Visit their website for more information and details of photography days and workshops.
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!