Sunday Safari

Time for some more Butterfly photos… Apologies, but I’m making the best of it! Friday saw the most Peacocks I’ve seen since I was a young girl and remember Buddleja bushes full of butterflies…
8-9 Peacocks on the one in the back garden, probably more on the front too.

Surely this is the opposite of what SHOULD happen after all the rain? Over the past 4 years I’ve had a steady increase in flutters… And last year I had 3 Peacocks and 2 Red Admirals and was ecstatic, so a jump to 8/9 seems crazy. Although I have had fewer Commas than normal, the most I’ve seen so far is 2 and hope I have eggs laid on the nettles (still haven’t managed to spot the caterpillar on there, but leaves keep disappearing so there must be at least one!)

Has the rain meant there have been plenty of lush plants for the butterflies to eat? Perhaps it’s because people were less diligent with their gardening because of the rain and caterpillars were able to survive longer? Interesting.

If you don’t have any Rudbeckia, please do so. Now.
This is ‘Goldsturm’ and it’s a big hit with the Butterflies – Gatekeepers, Peacocks and Comma have all visited it.

They also like Thistle – this is Tuberous Thistle, a British native. It will self-seed everywhere (no evidence yet, but this is its second season). The bonus is that the Bees and Hoverflies also love the Thistle. (Oh and be warned, this Thistle has really fine but painful spikes on it!)

I’ve also noticed that as the end of summer draws in, the Butterflies are much more relaxed and I can get close to them easily. Saturday I had two close encounters, first with a Comma; I was in the front garden pulling up poppies to collect their seed and noticed a Bee land dazed on a Geranium leaf… I was just leaning over with a stick to help the Bee up onto a bloom and right next to my arm was a Comma! I attempted to get it to come onto my finger but it eventually flew off. Then, later in the afternoon I’d spotted a very washed out and tattered Gatekeeper fluttering around. She landed on a Rudbeckia and I attempted the same – to get her on my finger. I managed a few legs but she did eventually flutter onto the next bloom (couldn’t fly too well, so I didn’t push her). Even the Peacocks didn’t seem to mind me walking past (no Mary Poppins attempts with them though)

They also spend a lot of time sunbathing… the Peacocks have their favourite spots where they always seem to sunbathe each year…

And here’s four of them in the Buddleja at once… Still trying to catch more at once!

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

18 thoughts on “Sunday Safari

  1. Lovely photos. Wish the butterflies would pose for a photo in my garden. I will keep trying though . Maybe with the fine weather over the next few days, they might get a little drunk on the nectar, and slow down a bit.

    • Hi Crystal,

      If you know where the flutters like to sunbathe or plants they frequent, it should be quite easy to get shots of them. Although, a large zoom does definitely help!

      I’m still holding out for my small coppers to arrive; would hate not to see any at all this year.

    • Hi Donna,

      Hopefully I’ll see some birds eating my seeds too – they don’t often come down near the house, and the Rudbeckias aren’t far from the back windows. I have previously seen them eating Verbena Bonariensis seeds though, so maybe :)

  2. Great butterfly photos. I think that they are quite happy to be photographed as long as you don’t cast a shadow over them – then they fly off in search of the sun’s rays :) A flurry of peacocks here on my buddleja too Liz and all in the last week. They are such beautiful creatures. I am now impatient for aster ‘Little Carlow’ to open at the allotment as that is another bee/butterfly magnet.

    • Hi Anna,

      Yup, try not to cast a shadow and also move only when the breeze picks up – same with birds – as they don’t tend to notice so much since everything is moving at once. But the later in the year we get, the more liberties I can take with the butterflies as they don’t care either way!
      I still haven’t seen a Red Admiral this year, sadly. Same with the small Copper – but I’m not surprised about that.

      I’ve an Aster from my neighbour, no idea of its name but the Butterflies love that too! So I’m looking forward to it blooming. Maybe then I’ll see some Red Admirals :)

    • Hi Sherry,

      I hope you have a good break from blogging :) and that you get some rain soon!

      Indeed, I love chasing the butterflies, although my numbers have drastically decreased as the Gatekeepers seem to have almost totally gone; so sad that summer is over.

  3. Wonderful butterflies, they add so much to the garden. At last we have seen a very faded,ragged Silver Washed Fritillary, it wouldn’t sit still for its photo to be taken, but at least they are around. Supposed to be a good week weather wise so hope it brings them all out.

    • Hi Pauline,

      No Frits here unfortunately – no real surprise though since they like wasteground etc. I do believe I saw one a few years ago though… It was too patterned for a Comma and didn’t look like a Speckled Wood. I think it might’ve been a Dark Green Fritillary but I can’t be sure… Maybe it was a Wall.
      It’s getting quite late for butterflies, so I’m not holding much hope to see any new species this year.

  4. Butterflies are always a joy to see. Great photos. I tried to capture a black swallowtail this morning, but he would not sit still for my camera. I count myself fortunate anytime I get good insect photos. You have a natural talent!

  5. Great pictures of the butterflies, I must find a place in the garden again for rudbeckias, although the plants seem to have a very short lifespan in our garden here in Aberdeen. The first time I saw peacocks in our garden was about eight years ago, we now see them every year, although this Summer the weather has been terrible, leaving sightings very infrequent.

  6. Beautiful shots Liz – and I promise get rudbekia in my garden as soon as humanly possible ;-) I’ve already seen more butterflies in this garden than I ever had in my last, perhaps because we back on to the park, which has a lovely patch of nettles right behind our fence? Anyway, they visit, sun themselves on the baking, south-facing walls and stones, and flit between the achillea and asters.

    • Hi Janet,

      Heehee, good girl! You know you want Rudbeckia ;)
      Your money won’t go to waste, as the insects will appreciate the Rudbeckia blooms too. I’d never realised they loved them so much – very few went to the Coneflowers in comparison (flutters; Bees love both)
      Glad to hear you’re getting more butterflies than previously. Perhaps it is due to the Nettles – what type of flutters? Only Comma, Peacock, Admiral and Tort use nettles as the larval foodsource. Most other species use grasses. So if anything overgrown patches at the edge of the park are the most likely reason for your increase in butterfly numbers this year.
      The Gatekeepers seem to enjoy the Achillea here, and I think I also saw the Peacocks hanging around them, so yes definitely another good plant. Oh, and of course Asters are much loved – especially the later bloomers. You’ll get lots of insects including the flutters on the Asters. My neighbour has a large patch nextdoor (her son gave me some too) that is also crawling with various Bees, Hoverflies and butterflies.

  7. Lovely Peacock shots Liz, not seen many up my way this year. Lots of small tortoiseshells and the odd red admiral. But guess what… the commas are moving to Scotland! I didn’t know that until I saw my new visitor and read about it. Delighted to capture some video too. Hope you see many more flutters before they all go to sleep :-D

    • Hi Shirl,

      I’ve seen a fair old few Peacocks, but not a single Red Admiral – so I am surprised to hear they’ve managed to get so far north… Oh well. Hopefully next year I’ll see more again.
      Pleased to hear you’ve had your first Comma; I hadn’t realised they weren’t in Scotland! Definitely a bonus and they do lay on my common nettles (the main reason I allow the nettles to grow). I haven’t seen any Butterflies over the weekend, but I did have a few Small Torts and Commas last week… Don’t think I’ll see many, if any more now.

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