Friday, 4 September 2015

Purple and blue at Yoesden Bank

It was cold, windy and overcast this morning so I set out for Yoesden Bank with little hope of seeing many butterflies. It was still a good chance to check if the devil's bit scabious was flowering in the hole in the woods though and I always enjoy a walk across the reserve.

As if by magic, the clouds cleared and the sun came out just as I stepped onto the bank.

Lots of meadow browns were fluttering around as I headed across the top of the bank towards the far side of the reserve. I spotted a large white feeding on some knapweed and a speckled wood was sat on the path ahead of me. Then I saw the first flash of blue and watched as a stunning male Adonis blue landed nearby and struck a pose so I could admire it. They really are the most amazing blue and such a joy to see.

Sometimes they can be a bit tricky to tell apart from a common blue but they are a brighter sky blue and the white borders to their wings are cut through with black lines.
The black lines in the white border around the wings is not so clear in this
photo, but I'm fairly sure this is also an Adonis blue
I walked further along the bank and saw plenty of Adonis blues and Chalkhill blues flying around.
Chalkhill blue
The Chiltern Gentian was flowering all along the bank and looked so pretty with its purple star shaped flowers with white fringed centres.
Chiltern Gentian

There was a lot of it flowering on the bank
I reached the hole in the woods and was met with a beautiful sea of purple devil's bit scabious. Much of it is now in flower, but I still think it will be another week before it reaches its absolute peak.

The bees were loving it and were all over the flowers, but I don't remember seeing any butterflies feeding on it.

As I was leaving the hole in the woods I spotted a little crab spider hiding on some field scabious. They have the ability to change their body colour from white to yellow to camouflage themselves on the flowers they're sitting on. They sit there and wait to ambush any insects that land on their flower.

On my way back across the bank the skies looked very threatening and the butterflies hunkered down for a storm, sitting down low in the grass or hanging on tight to flower heads.

Some of the chalkhill blues seemed to think I'd make a good windbreak and were happy to sit on my hand for a while.
Male chalkhill blue

female chalkhillblue

Female chalkhill and Adonis blues are very similar, but I think this is a
chalkhill blue
Buzzards flew overhead and a family of long-tailed tits sat in a bush by the entrance to the bank, twittering and hopping around. I'd like to think they were there to say goodbye as I walked off the bank. Another great morning in our beautiful secret garden!

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