Home to roost

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R and I went to Cardiff today, to have lunch with L and G, and also with H and S, who happened to be staying with them for the weekend. We had a thoroughly good time – enhanced for me by having been able to share out my virus around half a dozen fresh victims. I always enjoy infecting other people, especially if they’re unfortunate enough to have to work for a living, and I look forward to my own symptoms abating rapidly now that I’ve handed on the baton.

We arrived home early in the evening, and as I’d was still short of my blip I decided to go for a walk, and to risk the butterfly field, which I’ve been avoiding for the past few weeks because on my previous couple of visits it showed virtually no signs of life. Today things were much better: although butterfly numbers are clearly much lower than at this time last year, there were quite a few Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites, some Small Skippers, and a couple of Ringlets, and I also found one adult and one nymph (awww!!) Roesel’s Bush Cricket, though I didn’t manage to turn up any grasshoppers. It was also encouraging to see small flocks of both sparrows and long-tailed tits working the hedges and bramble patches, which suggests that they were finding a reasonable number of things to eat.

To my surprise I found that though the other butterflies were all still busy nectaring, the Marbled Whites seemed to be getting ready for bed: at intervals around the field, MWs were settling down on flower heads, with their wings half or fully spread and turned towards the setting sun, and they were so somnolent that I was able to walk right up to them with the macro and take as many photos as I wanted. There were several butterflies already resting close to each other on a patch of dead daisies when this one arrived and took up position; for a couple of minutes he was nervous, and snapped his wings shut every time a bird flew over, or I stepped too close, but after a little while he began to relax and open his wings like the others, and I was able to approach him. Never having seen this behaviour before, I can’t really explain it – all the photos I’ve ever seen of roosting butterflies have shown them with closed wings, so I don’t think these MWs will be staying in this position all night (though the chances of me being up early enough tomorrow to test this theory are infinitesimal) – but it was definitely a Thing that they were all doing.

My second-favourite butterfly of the evening was a Small Tortoiseshell, which I’ve posted to Facebook.

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