Butterflies, Birds And Bees
How contrasting our weather has been in recent weeks. Some days have been woolly hat and gloves days and some have been sun hat and tee shirt days! It is not only me that has noticed the difference, the early flying insects and butterflies have as well. The beautiful yellow Brimstone butterfly is usually the first to be seen on the wing. The first hint of warm sunshine wakes it from its winter hibernation and the females start to search for Buckthorn bushes to lay their eggs on whilst the males will be on the look out for mates. Brimstones, along with Peacocks, live longer than a lot of butterflies. The ones that are flying now will have emerged from their chrysalises in August last year and then spent all their time gorging on nectar until hibernating in November. They usually chose a spot deep among the evergreen leaves of ivy, or sometimes holly. Although easy to see as they dash about in sunshine when they close their wings to rest on leaves their camouflage is perfect. They have prominent veins and even a spot of “mould” in the centre of their wings; just like a slightly manky leaf. On warm days they have enjoyed the nectar in the primroses in our gravel garden, but they have had to share the early flowers with quite a few Peacocks. They will have spent the winter hibernating in a hollow tree or the corner of a shed. Their closed wings resemble old bits of wood, but when they open they are spectacular,with their unmistakable “peacocks eyes”.
It is very important that the butterflies find nectar when they first emerge. If the weather changes they will go back into semi-hibernation and they need to have enough reserves to get them on the wing again in the next warm spell. Our gravel garden was great for attracting butterflies last summer and the early tulips and the primroses that are out now have made it just as good this spring. We like to sit in the sunshine and have our mid-morning break there and watching the butterflies has been very relaxing.
The various bees in the garden never seem to relax and they have been enjoying the winter flowering heathers in the front garden. I wish heathers were not out of fashion with gardeners these days as they are so good for bees. We get so many early warm days now that a lot of bees are out and about in January and February when there is little food available to them and a few more heathers would be a boon to them.
The carrion crows were obviously pleased with their mention in last month’s notes and have decided to nest in a silver birch tree within sight of our dining room windows. I have been watching them bring in twigs and carefully place them whilst eating my breakfast. I think they are bound to feature again for their efforts.