Now, I have sat down here to write a post for you and beside me there is a steaming mug of black coffee and a large glass of whiskey. This is not good, I don’t do my best writing when I am drinking black coffee. I have taken a sensible precaution and I have written “Don’t Ramble” on the back of my hand in Biro. So now if you are sitting comfortably, I will begin….
Yesterday started well. Saturday had been as warm as a late Spring day and Sunday looked just as promising. So we had to ask ourselves, “what will we do with all of this sunshine?” We can scour the woods for fungi when it’s raining, we decided to go and look for butterflies instead.
It was a long shot given the time of year but if it was going to happen it would be on a day like this.
Well we didn’t see any. In fact it was just a sunny winter’s day and not spring at all and in winter everything that isn’t dead is asleep.
So that’s that.
Okay now I am rubbing the word “Don’t” off the back of my hand with spit.
Why on earth did I think we would find butterflies on the last day of November?
There are five British butterflies that overwinter as adults and that means that throughout the whole winter these delicate little insects will be outside, even when the streams freeze up and stop moving and frost covers everything in long crystals.
On any warm winter day they can and do wake up and they have a little stretch and bask in the sun for an hour before going back to sleep. These five will be the first to welcome the spring.
I will show them to you.
Three pictures of the Brimstone because I don’t think that I have had it on the blog yet. Not very flashy wings but it has a lovely photogenic face.
The other beautiful animals are…
All of these animals emerge in the summer sun and they are like teenagers, they don’t have any responsibilities. All that they do is drink nectar and enjoy the sun. Somehow when summer ends they have to survive the winter and when spring comes they will have to learn about territories and breeding. Well, that can be fun too.
It was a long shot but we could have seen any of these butterflies.
Anyway this isn’t going to be a post about any of these, this is a post about the Orange Tip and somewhere there is probably a reason.
This morning I wrote a couple of posts for my Easy Wildflowers Blog. They were both about Strawberries (of sorts) The Wild Strawberry….
Pretty easy to tell apart, the real strawberry has a yellow dome in the centre of the flower.
Whilst I was researching the species I came across this interesting bit of information, you can tell the species apart because on the leaf of the Barren Strawberry the tooth at the tip of the leaf is smaller than the teeth either side of it. (True)
Whereas on the Wild Strawberry it um…isn’t (particularly)
I think that there are easier ways to separate the plants but it is all good.
The other good way to tell if it is a real Wild Strawberry is to wait and see if Bananas grow on it. Wild Strawberries are really small and Bananas are far away.
OOOh! That coffee is kicking in.
Anyway I digress. While I was checking out my pictures of Strawberries I happened to notice some other pictures of Orange Tips and the Orange Tip is a butterfly. Do you get the connection?
The Orange Tip was sitting on my hand. Over the last few days I have become involved with a bird that might sit on my hand and so the Orange Tip struck a chord.
Robins are pesky birds.
I made the mistake recently of not identifying this bird, it is a European Robin. In the UK this is probably the most recognised and most loved bird that we have. I have got a love of these animals.
They hang around my flat and try and steal my stuff. Over the last few days I have been trying to get one to feed from my hand and so that is why I decided to write a post about the Orange Tip.
Everybody loves the Robin Redbreast. It is an audacious little bird and approaches men and seems friendly.
Male Robins will not tolerate each other and they fight to the death. I have read that up to ten per cent of all Robin deaths may be down to robinicide, they are little psychopaths, they are killers but they are fine with other species.
So anyway, as I was saying, When I first arrived here I was quickly accepted because of my affinity with animals. I know what they like to eat.
Everybody was happy because I brought Robins with me (Meal worms). The old fellow even started stealing my photographs to put on his wall…..
Then the Goldfinches arrived (Sunflower hearts)
These birds are so sweet and charming and as they had never been here before I received a request to stop feeding the Robins in case they chased the Goldfinches away.
Like Goldfinches can’t look after themselves 🙂
The bird wears war paint.
I have been feeding the Robins by my back door and recently I have begun to think that I could get them feeding from my hand, which would be very nice.
So little animals in my hand was on my mind when I looked through my library for strawberry pictures and that is when I saw the Orange Tip.
Now, keeping in mind the need to be precise and avoid rambling, I just need to tell you about how little animals came to be in my hands in the first place.
Back in the olden days when I first started hanging out in woods the animals were very friendly.
Some of them were a bit too friendly and it seemed like they just couldn’t get enough of me.
What you are looking at there is probably the second most dangerous animal in the world. Mosquitoes kill more people than all of the Tigers and Great Whites and Crocodiles and everything else that you can think of put together.
The only thing worse than a Mosquito is me and my kind.
Still I quite like them. I understand that it is only the females that take my blood and they only do it because they need the protein to make their eggs and Mosquitoes love their children as much as we love ours.
Horse Flies on the other hand are just mean.
You don’t even feel a Mozzie, they are masters of stealth but Horse Flies have mouth parts that slash and rip flesh and you get instant pain.
Ouch! That had to hurt.Shut up! Who asked you?
Being quite green (Naive rather than environmental) my solution was Deet.
It is very effective. It works by creating a smell that is really offensive to insects and for a couple of years I lived in an insect free world.
One day my bottle of Deet just stopped working. It had always worked and then it just stopped. Why would that happen?
On my first day without Deet I got this photograph.
That was the day that I realised that the best way to approach insects might not be to cover myself in insect repellent. I have never worn it since.
So to get to the subject of this post.
The Orange tip is a lovely spring butterfly.
It is very common in the spring time and easy to recognise, you can spot them a mile off.
The female of the species is a different matter. She doesn’t have the orange tips, she is just white and there are a few small white butterflies around at that time of year. I desperately wanted to photograph the female.
Every little white butterfly that I chased down the hedgerow turned out to be one of these.
This is a Green-veined White and not a female Orange Tip.
I was beginning to think that Orange Tips must mate with Green-veined Whites and there was no such thing as a female Orange Tip.
So anyway, one day I was out looking at the Wild Arum flower.
This is not really a flower at all, the flowers are inside. The Arum Lily is really a complex Fly trap.
It is a bit like the opposite of an insect repellent, it is designed to attract insects.
Now I am not suggesting that anybody goes out and covers themselves in Arum sap. It is a deadly poison that burns and blisters the skin but these things do happen and in the process of examining the fly trap I was exposed to the sap.
I did wash my hands in a nearby puddle of mud and I dried them on a convenient walking hand towel that I always keep with me for just such an emergency.
By this time my hands must have been smelling pretty good. (It’s okay I didn’t poison the dog)
This is a female Orange Tip.
Now I am afraid that I have forgotten what I was talking about. Monday evening has become Tuesday morning and the whiskey is all gone. I must get some sleep.
This month I have to work on my Easy Wildflowers blog and get some content on there. You might think that I am slacking a bit. It is only temporary and it will be worth it. That blog is going to be very good.