a (common) ringlet festival

yesterday morning I decided to run the tick gauntlet and

dive into the long grasses along the bottom of the big field

ending up with boots, socks and turn-ups full of grass seed

luckily there are none of those very dangerous barbed grass seeds that get into dogs’ ears and paws

although inland there is a heatwave, here near the coast we have the benefit of the low cloud and mists

off the North Sea, and of the slight dampness that comes in with the mists, so we are not as thoroughly scorched as other places, although grass that is cut too short looks awfully straw-like at the moment.

in the long grass of the new meadow, set as conservation grassland by Henry Carter a few years ago, there are plenty of wild flowers, like this tufted vetch

and common spotted orchids which are spreading around the dampest parts,

invading from the woodland that used to be a water meadow

there are marsh thistles

a lovely assortment of grasses, with wildlife paths in them

ragged robin

a lot of orchids, and meadow vetch

the general view. there’s also lots of fleabane and hemp agrimony waiting to flower

but the main thing was that this long grass was full of common ringlet butterflies just starting to warm themselves up as the sun gradually came out

no sign yet of the silver-washed fritillaries I saw last year, but they really prefer a lot of sun, and bramble flowers which are mostly just in bud

more orchids

and more ..

a ringlet just coming up out of the grass

and a small skipper on the jack go-to-bed-at-noon clock

there are always lots of those at this sunnier end of the field

then we waded through Cakes lane, which is not so bad at the lower end where George Harcourt cuts it often

but at the top it is head high in bracken, hogweed, grass and docks with the odd bit of bramble. all us walkers are doing our best to trample a trail though it, but it’s quite hard work, and one knows there are ticks lurking! sadly the council have completely stopped cutting it, although it’s a green road that’s not the responsibility of the neighbouring farmers. luckily the Hotblacks usually take pity on us and give it a cut later in the summer.

this morning’s walk took us past Bullfer Grove, where the uncut edge of the bank is host to plenty of insects, including this lovely speckled wood butterfly

in my garden there’s a bit of a shortage of insects, despite the wildflower meadow effect. I did find this beautiful brown carder bee on the knapweed flowers this morning. it (she?) is a little old and faded compared to the bee identification pictures at friends of the earth’s website

accompanied by a flower beetle – one of those beautiful shiny green creatures. I would expect to be seeing more butterflies – small copper, comma, red admiral, peacock, small tortoiseshell in my garden, but perhaps the drought or the cold May weather is making them later. we saw a painted lady two weeks ago, and the odd red admiral in the lanes, but only two gatekeepers and a ringlet or two in my garden yesterday.

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