Two butterflies and a blackcap

8 April 2013

Wow, what a wonderful day we had on Saturday: the sun shone all afternoon, even if the wind remained cold. It started well, with a Small Tortoiseshell (first of the year for me), soon followed by a Peacock. The photo shows the Small Tortoiseshell apparently nectaring on a crocus which looked way past its best, but as a bee also seemed to get something from it later, I can only think that though the petals looked collapsed, there was still nectar inside. You can see in the picture how dry the ground is at the moment, so plants are having it a bit tough. I was very chuffed that the Peacock used the aubretia, as I grew them from seed last year for this exact purpose: nice to find one bit of wildlife that has read the books and does what it should.

Left: Small Tortoiseshell on crocus. Centre: Peacock on primrose. Right: Peacock on aubretia

Left: Small Tortoiseshell on crocus. Centre: Peacock on primrose. Right: Peacock on aubretia

A bit later we were sitting enjoying a cup of tea  (an essential part of gardening) when I became aware of a bird call I had not heard before, and grabbing the binoculars I could see there was a blackcap on the bird feeder! We’ve had the odd blackcap before, but never staying long and not on the feeder, so this was a great first. I see from the Portland Bird Observatory website that they recorded some blackcaps on 5th, so I wonder if this one will stay around or is just passing through. There was a chiff-chaff calling stongly too.

A good chunk of the afternoon was spent on pond clearance. I’d usually aim to do this in Oct/Nov, but it was in great need of doing, as parts of the pond were fast reverting to land. We found a couple of big and several small dragonfly larvae and six newts in the process. The chunks removed have been left on the side of the pond, in the hope of any wildlife getting back into the pond, but I think the blackbrds and robins have other plans. We’re in the process of re-laying the stones round the pond, so hopefully it will soon look a bit smarter, as the stones were getting very wonky. By the way – if anyone suggests you use loose pebbles as a ramp to allow wildlife to get out of your pond, don’t be tempted: the pebbles don’t stay where you want them, and make cutting through the growth in the pond to get it out extremely difficult.

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