Tag Archives: Red Admiral

Happy Face

It is like a Spring day out there today. It is like it is March and the sun is shining 🙂

Spring dayIn March the Butterflies come back and so today we are going out to look for them.

Fizz has got her happy face on.

Happy faceI haven’t seen that face for a long time. She is not really happy (well, she is always happy) she is hot and she is panting and it hasn’t been hot for a very long time.

Happy face 2It didn’t take us long to find a Butterfly. This is a Red Admiral.

Red AdmiralThe Red Admiral is a migrant species that arrives here in the UK in May and June flying in from Europe and North Africa.

It is only fairly recently that it has been considered a resident species, they don’t like our cold winters.

Butterfly Conservation says on it’s website, “There is an indication that numbers have increased in recent years and that overwintering has occurred in the far south of England.” That needs updating.

This animal has survived the winter in Gloucestershire and hopefully I will soon see a lot more. Hurrah for global warming 🙂

Red AdmiralIt does look a bit tatty but so would you if you had been outside all winter.

We better find it some nectar plants. You can try some of these.

Lesser Celandine.
Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Common Field-speedwellCommon Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwellThere is another one, a Small Tortoiseshell.

Small TortoiseshellOh Joy. The flowers are flowering, the Butterflies are coming back and Fizz has got her happy face on.


ColtsfootColtsfootNow Fizz and I are tired of all this sunshine and Butterflies and flowers.

Tired FizzWe are going up on the bank to get our photographs taken with the sheep.

Interested FizzOn the way we find another little flower that we haven’t seen yet this year.

This is Hairy Biittercress.

Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress

Hairy BittercressIt’s good for Butterflies.

Okay, let’s make some selfies.

Selfie 1

Selfie 2

Everybody crowd in.Selfie 3Our shadows are getting very short, mine used to be about ten sheep long.

I have written about Stellaria media today but I have had to leave quite a lot of important stuff out because I just didn’t have the photographs. I haven’t seen it in flower yet but it won’t be long and then I shall get the pictures and update the post.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Stellaria media, The Common Chickweed

Common Chickweed is a member of the Stellaria genus of flowers. It is a very small flower, about a quarter of an inch in diameter (6-9 mm) and in common with other Stellaria species it has five white petals.

The  five petals of Stellaria media are divided right down to the base, giving the flower the  appearance of ten petals and note that the petals of Common Chickweed are shorter or no longer than the sepals and that the sepals are hairy.

(Common Chickweed, Stellaria media 6-9 mm)
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Compare Common Chickweed to two other Stellaria species that are commonly found here.

(Lesser Stitchwort, Stellaria graminea 7-12 mm)
Lesser Stitchwort (Stellaria geminea)

(Greater Stitchwort, Stellaria holostea 15-25 mm)
Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)Common Chickweed has three styles that sit on a green ovary. The number of stamens can vary from three to eight.

(Stellaria media, 3 stamens)
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

(Stellaria media, 8 stamens)
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Common Chickweed has a weak stem, it will often trail along the ground but it seldom rises more that about eight inches. It is a small plant but if you find it growing in any quantity it is worth remembering that it is a tasty edible. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)The leaves are oval and smooth edged with a point at the tip, they grow in opposite pairs along the stem. Leaves at the base of the plant have quite long stalks and toward the top they are stalkless.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Common Chickweed has a tradition of use in herbal medicine and is most commonly used to treat skin conditions, cuts, bruises and burns

It is a valuable wildlife plant, a food plant to several moth species it is probably best known as being favoured by birds. Chickens eat both the plant and the seeds and that is how it gets it’s name, many small birds like finches eat the seeds and you can also feed it to cage birds.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)   Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)   Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) Taxonomy

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Caryophyllales

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Genus: Stellaria

Species: Stellaria media

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Wildflowers in the Springtime 🙂

How to take Photographs (3 – Speed and Light)

This is where it gets a little bit intimidating.

I am a bit of a one trick pony. I photograph nature. My camera is nearly always hand held and everything moves so I have to be fast.

The first trick that I learnt was to drop my exposure a couple of clicks. On my first camera (Panasonic FZ50) I could do that whilst leaving the camera in intelligent auto mode.

It was the only thing that I knew how to do and I took these photographs.

Forest Shield Bug

Common Lizard

Speckled Wood ButterflyI was happy and encouraged. I took hundreds of pictures like these.

As long as you have got enough light then dropping your exposure a bit will give you a faster shutter speed and a sharper picture. I still think that this is a good trick for beginners and worth trying before you get into the more complicated stuff. If your camera will let you do that.

Unfortunately the fellow that I am writing this for can’t do that. In auto mode he has no control over exposure. (I have got his manual in front of me)

So how do you get speed?

Most cameras have got a Shutter priority option that allows you to set the speed as fast as you like. I can’t really figure out why. (Okay you can achieve motion blur but who wants that?) If you set your shutter speed too fast you will just get a black picture because there is not enough light for such a fast shot.

I always have my camera set to Aperture priority. I usually want the fastest shot that the available light will allow. So to get the fast shot I have to mess with the light not the speed.

Marmalade HoverflyWhat is an aperture? It is the hole that opens when your shutter opens and allows light into your camera, you can determine how big that hole is going to be. The bigger you let it be, the more light will get into your camera and you can take a faster picture.

The animal will move if you hang about 🙂

I want a wide aperture and by working in aperture priority rather than auto I can stop my camera from doing stupid things that I don’t want it to do.

How is this easy!!!

Well I am a one trick pony, remember? I always want a fast picture so I don’t have to keep changing things. I set my camera to Aperture priority and I set my aperture to f.2.8 and that is basically all that I do. It is just as easy as having my camera in auto mode 🙂

Okay the other thing that I do is that I play with the exposure constantly. That is the way that I control the amount of light that I am letting in but all that means is that I keep my exposure as low as possible (almost always underexposed) whilst still letting enough light in to  get a picture.

It is not very clever but it works for me.

Green Orb Spider

Small Skipper

White Plume MothThe down side of using a wide aperture is that it has a knock on effect on depth of field and what that means is that only a small area will be in focus.

Generally that is okay for what I do because insects are quite small.

You wouldn’t want big insects because they can be quite mean.

With big things like butterflies I sometimes struggle to get the whole animal in focus.

Red AdmiralBut sometimes that is okay.

So that is enough tricks for now.

If you want to explore aperture priority my friend then it is on page 82 of your manual.

Butterflies and Flowers (November)

There is only so much fun that you can have with a dog and a puddle.

I think that we all need to grow up a bit and be more serious.

You first 🙂

Yesterday the rain was torrential. All of the lower fields are flooded. I was really surprised to wake up this morning to this sky.

November SkyI can live with that. Today Fizz and I are going after Butterflies but we also want to look at what is still in flower.

The Butterfly idea was doomed to success. Even before I stepped out of my front door I saw one.

A rubbish photo but I took it in case this was the only animal that I saw today. It is enough to prove that they are still about.

November Red AdmiralSo flowers first. Fizz is always in flower. Unfortunately all that water avoidance that she was doing resulted in her getting a thorn in her foot.

Thorny FizzLet the doctor have a look.

Fizz's FootGet out of the way and I’ll kiss it better for you.

Fizz's FootThere. I have saved your life again.

Saved Fizz

FizzOther flowers.

Most of them we were expecting.

Red Campion

Red CampionSilene dioica obviously. I put that on EW earlier, I haven’t created all the links yet but it is here Red Campion


Bramble blossomHogweed is still going strong.

HogweedThere were plenty of flowers still to open… This is an important nectar source at this time of year.

HogweedThere were plenty of seed heads too.

HogweedHerb Robert, it doesn’t seem to have a season.

Herb RobertThere are still a few Ivy flowers about but not many.

IvyThere is a lot of this next one, White Dead Nettle. The last of the dead nettles it won’t be very long before it’s little red cousin will be popping up to welcome  the spring.

White Dead NettleWe pretty much expected to see those and that is a fair summary of all that I could find in flower in this location…. Except for this next one.

Field RoseA lovely Field Rose. This one is out of season but the bush didn’t know that and it had buds just about to burst into flower.

Field Rose

Field RoseSo I didn’t chase butterflies up and down the track because I have only just done the Red Admiral. I just wanted to record their presence. These are the only butterflies that I am still regularly finding.

Red Admiral

Red AdmiralI saw one Dragonfly but I only saw it as a silhouette against the sky as it moved down the track in front of me. It would have been a Migrant Hawker, I am pretty sure that is the only big one still on the wing in November but I couldn’t get close enough to properly confirm that, which was disappointing.

Back to being childish…

FizzOh dear Fizz. How did you get so wet?

Ring of Fire

Red AdmiralCan you see the ring of fire that inspired my title?

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Red AdmiralThis is my butterfly from a few days back, the first of November. It is a Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta. Not really a British butterfly at all it is a summer migrant, flying in from Southern Europe and North Africa in the spring and early summer and returning home in the autumn. Well that is how it used to be.

If you Google for the UK Red Admiral you will learn that very rarely it will overwinter in the extreme south of England. Well that is also how it used to be.

FizzYou have got a little something on your nose there.

This might turn into a post about climate change. If I asked you for your childhood recollections of October 24th , say from the 1960’s you probably would not remember anything specific but if I changed that date to November the 5th… People in the UK would have no trouble at all recalling that exact day, forty or fifty years ago. It is Bonfire Night.

I don’t have any specific memories of my own childhood birthdays but I can recall the excitement of bonfire night fifty years ago. It was a night of duffle coats and scarves and woollen gloves. Sparklers,  red faces in the firelight and baked potatoes, it was cold.

I have just been reading on the RSPB website that Red Admirals can be seen until October and very rarely into November. When Fizz and I go out this afternoon if the sun is shining we will see Red Admirals. It isn’t rare any more and they will overwinter here in Gloucestershire.

Times have changed and winter is warm.

The last few days the weather has been really fantastic here. Well, it has been cold, with lots of sunshine but we have also had sudden downpours of very heavy rain and then hailstones and then more sunshine. It is very lively and I am really enjoying it.

It is nice that it is cold enough to wear a coat out and that is useful when the rain comes over but I have not even thought about wearing gloves yet, it isn’t that cold.

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Red AdmiralI have chosen my butterfly photographs today to focus on that ring of fire, I think that it is lovely 🙂

10I am going to be keeping a close eye on the insects as we head toward winter. A friend has been asking about Dragonfly sightings. The Migrant Hawker is often seen well into November and I might do a post about that one soon. I would like to see one for myself.

There are some really good Dragonfly spots around here but we need a sunny day and I need Fizz to get a clean bill of health. I am pretty sure that she is not in season and a mistake has been made, that is good because I can take her to public places but I need her owner to confirm that and that she is happy for me to take her out.

The second dog in this video, Buddy, is a male. Can you see why I don’t think she is in season?

There is just nothing in her behaviour to suggest such a thing.

FizzSo you sort yourself out and then we can go and look for insects. Okay?

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Red AdmiralI apologise for my absence over the last couple of days. A prolonged power cut meant that I lost most of yesterday but also I have had a lot to do getting the farm straightened out for my landlords return 🙂

I will be around to visit you shortly.

With Fizz.


Sweetness and Light

I thought that I had better give you an update.

FizzJust in case anybody doesn’t know what’s going on with Fizz and myself let me explain.

Fizz’s owner, Margaret, has gone away for the weekend and asked me to look after Fizz. Just as she was leaving, Margaret said to me, “Just  keep a close eye on her this time, I think she’s coming into season.”

Not being quite sure what that meant I looked it up on the internet and it said, “Your dog will be desperate for .. well, company. She will try and escape and other dogs will take an interest in her.” Okay.

Actually I think that Margaret was mistaken, Fizz is being a little angel and not misbehaving at all. We are just avoiding public places where she might be led into temptation.

We had a lovely walk today. There was a cold wind but plenty of sunshine and Butterflies.

Red AdmiralThis  was nice to see in November. I chased this Red Admiral all over the place and took a lot of pictures. I will probably give it it’s own post but for now here it is demonstrating it’s perfect camouflage.

Now you see me…

Red AdmiralOOh! Where’s the butterfly gone?

Red AdmiralHere is a pretty little mushroom. I don’t know what it is. I know you are going to say Amethyst Deceiver but it is not. I am very familiar with that one. I think that this could be a Lilac Fibrecap but I didn’t get the pictures that I wanted so I am going to leave it for now. I know where to find them and will pop back up there one morning after a bit of rain and see if I can get some more.

For now it is just pretty.

Unidentified Fungi

Unidentified FungiThere were still plenty of flowers about. The wind made photographing them a bit difficult. I took lots of shots of the Herb Robert but it moved in most of them.

Herb Robert

Herb RobertHerb Robert is one of those flowers that I expect to see pretty well all winter. You always get the odd flower that opens out of season and there is just so much of this around that I can almost guarantee to find at least one on any day of the year. Red Campion is the same, very prolific.

Now for another fungi. A lovely find but I don’t know what this one is either. The difference is that I have a lot of good quality photographs of this one. If it is possible to ID it from a photograph then I should be able to do so and it will have it’s own post. I am holding back for now.

Unidentified Fungi

Unidentified FungiOkay, let’s get dirty. That is what we really came out for.

Unidentified Fungi

FizzNo, you can be muddier than that.


FizzIsn’t she sweet?

FizzI think that we need deeper puddles 🙂

One Last Butterfly?

We have had some lovely weather just recently but this morning when I took Fizz out the sun was shining and it felt cool. T-shirt,  shirt and body warmer on at mid-day, I think that the summer is fading.

So let us not waste a drop of it.

The Red Admiral has frustrated me all summer, I saw plenty but just couldn’t get close and then I got close today. The Ivy seduced the poor animal and it was helpless to resist me.

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Red AdmiralThis animal didn’t mind what I did. It was the one that we all look for. I put my camera down and looked closely with my eyes and I felt in awe of it’s beauty. I could probably have picked it up but I didn’t think of that, anyway it was busy.

The Red Admiral is a wonderful subject to use when discussing butterfly anatomy because of it’s colour. As a brush footed butterfly the hairs on it’s brush feet stand out, it has the best labial palps of any butterfly that I know and it’s probiscus and antennae are pretty cute too but I don’t feel up to doing butterfly anatomy tonight. I am just drinking in a beauty.

Anybody who wants to use my photographs to help to explain to their own audience is more than welcome to do so.

Red Admiral

So anyway this butterfly wasn’t comatose and it flitted around all over the place but it didn’t mind me following.




probiscusIt is just an insect but I think that I am blessed to know an insect.


Thank you very much for the pictures. Yeah, yeah, you will be a star now, I have just got to talk to those connections that I told you about. Don’t worry it just takes time. Thanks for the pics. 🙂

You were beautiful.