Safari Sunday – Butterflies

Flutter numbers this year are surprisingly well. Although I still haven’t seen any Red Admirals. I have had most of my other ‘regulars’ except for the Small Copper; although the latter isn’t a surprise to me.

The Gatekeeper numbers seem to have topped out at 15 seen at the same time; there may have been more as a) some may have been still and b) as amazing as I am, I do not have eyes in the back of my head or the ability to see through things.
I’ve noticed they’ve slowed down slightly; the females have arrived, so the males seem to have chilled out. This also means taking photos of them is now much easier.

This year I’ve noticed the Gatekeepers also really enjoy the Shasta Daisies and Rudbeckia; I hadn’t noticed this before? They also preference a Steel Blue Sea Holly?? It’s a shame I have only the one blue one and more of the normal green ones that gradually turn blue.

I think from these videos, it’s easy to see Butterflies are not the easiest to photograph…
Gatekeeper on Rudbeckia (for better quality vid just up the quality on the bottom to HD.)

The Gatekeepers really do love the Rudbeckias… One female allowed me to get very close, and didn’t seem the slightest bit interested that there was a camera right up in her face.



I also spotted this white moth flying in the day… Not sure what type it is – cannot ID it from UKmoths either. All the whites are either much larger or have obvious brown patterns when this is very light and has no brown spots…

Large White on Buddleja

So far I’ve seen this Small Tort on a number of occasions (or maybe a different one each time; who knows?) a couple of days ago I also spotted some Caterpillar poops on the nettles which mean one thing: Comma Cats. I’ve just got to spot it now! Proving way more difficult than last year… I’ve tried a few times now and am wondering if it’s gone to Chrysalis…

More recently we’ve seen the arrival of the Peacocks… So far I *think* I’ve seen two, but one flew around and I couldn’t be 100% certain.

I managed perhaps my first ever proper photograph of the Ringlet Butterfly; it seemed to enjoy the Erysimum and even allowed me to get quite close!

This is one that I often struggle to get shots of as it’s always on the move, and if it does stop then the male Gatekeepers come along and chase them off.

Speaking of hard to catch Butterflies, here’s another: Meadowbrown. They too are difficult for me to get and I rarely ever manage to get within a few metres of them. This movie is taken using my big zoom lens from a few metres away. I’m just pleased it turned around and opened its wings for me :)
Meadow Brown Butterfly

Speckled Woods aren’t too easy to catch either! Generally preferring to stay hidden or amongst the blooms than coming out in the open like the Gatekeepers.

There’s also been lots of fluttering and fighting; I’m unsure if it’s the female Gatekeepers who does this high speed fluttering as part of mating or if it’s males warning others off!
Anyway, although the Gatekeepers are the biggest culprits of fighting, the Whites have also had their fair share as shown in the below movie:

Even the Gkeepers were fed up with the White! Not sure exactly what it’s doing… But they sure can be feisty little insects considering they look so peaceful.

As the summer winds down… *coughwhatsummer* and so do the Butterflies, I have seen more sharing going on (not the best shots, often taking through other plants so not to disturb them):

To end this post is something a little different… Not a Butterfly, but still a first for this garden: A Brown Hawker Dragonfly. I assume there must be a pond somewhere nearby, as I’ve seen it a few times now… Yes I do want a pond, but the layout of my garden just doesn’t seem to allow for it.

Copyright 2012 Liz.
All rights reserved. Content created by Liz for Gwirrel’s Garden.

16 thoughts on “Safari Sunday – Butterflies

  1. What a great post Liz. It reminded me to look up the butterfly Imsaw in my garden earlier today. By the time I had my camera focused it flew off and then I forgot all about it. On googling it I find it was a Speckled Wood and very common, although I have not seen it before.

  2. Now your post fully downloaded into the iPad I have seen your video of the speckled wood. Strange how it wasn’t there when I first read your post. iPad sometimes takes longer to download than a pc I’ve fallen into that trap before. You must have wondered why I needed to google the one I saw!

    • Hi Ronnie,

      I don’t tend to look at my blog on the ipad – are you viewing it on the ipad special swipe type blog or as normal? Anyway, yup I’ve just loaded it and granted when viewing the ‘onswipe’ version for ipads, the movies are taking a while to load and I did realise they would likely slow things down for visitors. But then I’ve been building up too many and wanted to get them posted before I forget and never get round to it. If you scroll to the end of the blog you can select to view the whole site instead, and this comes up as it would on a desktop and doesn’t seem to be struggling.
      Bit of a shame really, as the ‘onswipe’ version is very pretty.

      We often get Speckled woods here, and used to get quite a few but a couple of years ago their numbers seem to crash and since then I’ve only seen a max of say, 2 at any one time – they were more numerous than the Gatekeepers, in fact!! But now the ‘keeper’s numbers have increased and even with all the rain seem to be doing well.

  3. What a coincidence, I’m just half way writing my post about butterflies and other insects. The wonderful sunshine yesterday and today has brought them out in droves! I’ve looked up your white moth in my little butterfly and moth book and come up with a White Satin moth or Common White Wave but I think the most likely is Mother of Pearl Moth, don’t know how big any of these are. When Speckled Woods are flying round and round each other, it is the males fighting for a patch of sunshine, they fly round and round each other until one gives up. Super photos, wish mine were as good, better stop, I’ve more photos to download!

    • Hi Pauline,

      I hope the butterflies stick around a little longer… they usually do but if we’re back to poor weather again then they way well disappear. I cut the hedge today after holding off for the last few weeks to allow it to bloom and the ‘keepers probably won’t be too happy as they love to flutter along it and sunbathe on the branches that stick out. Oh well… It needed doing because it looked a real eyesore.

      I’ve looked on the UK moths website, they have a keyword searcher and typing in white, cream etc didn’t bring up anything exactly like this little white one. Most have brown patterns on the wings, but they go the wrong way. And this sat with its wings as shown above when those on UK Moths sat with their wings out… Eeeeee, I don’t know.
      If only I could have pretty Tiger moths or Elephant Hawk Moths instead.

    • Hi,

      Ah, you may not have Peacocks, but you probably do get Monarchs and various gorgeous Swallowtail butterflies which are rarely seen here – migrant only.

  4. Liz I just adore your butterflies especially the peacock..we were overrun with red admirals this year as they had a million migrating all spring and still some visiting in summer…but you have so many others that are so lovely in your pictures and videos.

    • Hi Donna,

      Jealous of your Red Admirals, I don’t tend to see them in high numbers here but I do usually see at least a few and still no sign yet.

  5. What a great array of shots Liz, I am so impressed at how well you capture all these butterflies and know them all too. So far I have only seen cabbage whites in my garden, which is unsurprising I suppose since there is very little to attract them at the moment.

    • HI Janet,

      Most of the photos are taken with the zoom lens, so this certainly helps in catching them; most species will not allow me close enough for super macro types – ‘keepers and small coppers are usually the only ones, occasionally small torts, commas and peacocks will.
      Ah, but ask me about moths and I’ll struggle!
      Hopefully you’ll see far more species too as you work on the garden; I’d imagine you’d have Cinnabar moths with all the Ragwort on the coast?? Definitely have some in your garden and the Cinnabars will come.

  6. Lovely. We have lots of tortoiseshells, a few peacocks and I’ve seen a couple of red admirals, a few commas weeks ago, plus the countless wheeling whites. Love your gatekeepers and meadow brown.

    • Hi,

      Last summer I had a good few Small Torts too, but this year has been really poor for the more popular species! Still no sign of a Red Admiral – haven’t spotted any anywhere, even after having visited parks.
      I don’t mind the whites, and actually quite like the green-veined whites…. Any butterfly is a bonus in my book :)

  7. Lovely photos. Congrats on getting the butterflies to pose while you took the pics. The butterflies in my garden must be very nervous, they won’t stay still at all.

    • Hi Crystal,

      The larger species don’t usually stay still or are easily disturbed and I only find the ‘keepers to be particularly calm and accepting of my camera in their faces. For example, the Peacock and Tortoiseshell are not easy to catch and will fly away if I’m not careful enough.

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