(Double click on each photo to get in closer)
Wow, if I'd of been asked what I needed to lift my spirits then this morning on Harty was about it - clear blue skies, hot sun and at last, no wind. And to cap it all, butterflies were everywhere, they react to the sun and warmth just as I do. It seemed as though every head of thistle flowers or clump of ragwort was covered in Red Admirals, Peacocks, Meadow Browns, Whites and Skippers. The whole of this was being patrolled in front by small squadrons of Common and Ruddy Darters, doing just that, darting to and fro snatching small flies. Also overnight, Gatekeepers seem to have had a mass hatch and were being attracted to the ragwort, as per below.
I'm a great believer in ragwort, not only do its large clumps brighten up a dry and sad looking marsh in summer but its beloved by so many different insects and butterflies. And at last I'm beginning to find more of its main beneficiary, Cinnabar Moth caterpillars. They always make me think of burglars in their stripey T shirts.
Another flower now coming into bloom is the Common Fleabane, if you want to find Skipper butterflies this is the flower to look on, they love it. A word of warning though, don't do as I did some years ago and plant some in the garden, it spreads like wildfire by creeping roots and is almost impossible to eradicate - but I do get plenty of Small Skippers!
After that I wandered round to the "S Bend Ditch" which, just as it did last year is now receding fast, but its one redeeming feature on a dry and yellowing reserve is the fact that it is currently the one place attracting birds. This morning on the soft mud I counted 14 Green Sandpipers and a few Lapwings but yesterday was even better. Then I had 16 Green Sandpipers, 1 Common Sandpiper and 3 juv. Little Ringed Plovers and some Blackwits - amazing what a bit of soft mud does for passage waders. I took this photo yesterday when the light was a lot worse but it shows the very shallow water and exposed mud quite well. Another month and it will look like the second photo from yesterday, which shows the start of the Ditch, about a hundred yards further back.
I still get wound up when I think that when we had a prolonged spell of this weather in the Spring that some people complained about it being too warm, still -
"Its a restless hungry feeling
that don't mean no one no good
When everything I'm a-saying
you can say it just as good
You're right from your side
I'm right from mine
We're both just one too many mornings
An' a thousand miles behind"....................Bob Dylan