Tag Archives: Vanessa atalanta

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 🙂

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.