Painted lady

A butterfly lands on the gravel path in Farningham wood and folds its wings; it is unrecognisable. Neither a wall brown nor a grayling both of which nearly always fold up, just a perplexing something in between; the colours are subtle and beautiful and it turns out to be a painted lady doing what it…

Summer shades

Sometimes there is no story, no theme to wrap some pictures around, just the rich sights of late summer to enjoy. Bright sun against a dark thundercloud, flowers in morning light, the appearance of the last swifts in the sky and the effervescent and colourful insects; even the irritating paparazzi, the clegs and mosquitoes, and…

A pearly day

Park Corner Heath in East Sussex is a postage stamp of acid grassland, heath and coppiced birch within a mixed woodland of planted pines and ancient beeches. The small reserve is managed for its butterflies and moths by Butterfly Conservation. The winter management by teams of volunteers maintains the clearings; this supports a range of…

The last hurrah

The song from the woods is gone; nuthatches and woodpeckers still occasionally sound off but the small woodland birds now rove in chattering flocks. Migrating and local turtle doves are feeding in the sunflower fields but scatter on approach, unsurprising as they are a favourite quarry hereabouts. A young buzzard mews persistently and will remain…

Agrimony, fleabane, purple loosestrife and water mint

The South Charente bakes then drowns in August. The hay meadows have been cut and collected and the Parthenais cattle have small calves. The flowers are restricted to wet ditches and damp corners except for the road and railsides. Many butterflies seek the water mint and the loosestrife; the coppers are often on the fleabane….

Old friends…

On a warm day with strong sunshine and few periods of persistent cloud, we took the sunken footpath up from Shoreham station. The ancient byway was flanked by veteran beech trees with smooth, silver grey trunks above exposed roots that twisted out of the ground. On White Hill, the fragrant, man, pryamidal and common spotted…

Spring butterflies

The early butterflies are nearly all widespread species including orange tips, brimstones and ‘cabbage whites’, the exception in southern England is the Duke of Burgundy fritillary and the nearest colony is near Canterbury. Peacocks and small tortoiseshells are also out and both common this year. The hedge garlic and lady’s smock are the host plant…

Vallée de la Renaudie et Les Tourbières de Vendoire

The narrow valley at the Nature Reserve along the river Renaudie is parched. A small herd of fine Charente cattle are supplied water from a bowser. The thistles are thick with seed but the last flowers are full of a wide variety of bees. The river is bone dry but there are dragonflies. The only…

August at Boisjarzeau

The view across the Tude valley is dry and parched. The wheat is cut and fields disced and harrowed; the sunflowers are burnt brown and heavy; and the maize is still green with irrigation deployed to combat the long drought. A great banded grayling sets up territory on the lime tree and chases off all…