Monday, 24 June 2013

Colour film

Technicolour - why butterflies will always have the edge over moths

I promised a butterfly today and here, below, is one dear to my heart, a Speckled Wood, a species often seen flitting in and out of dappled sunlight on the fringe of woodland. Its colouring reflects this habitat, a pattern of dark and light brown very similar to the flickering of light and shade as tree leaves move about in the wind. 

I suffered the experience of being disbelieved when I first recorded one in Leeds in the late 1990s but the 21st century brought a specimen close enough to photograph; and by then it was clear that the Speckled Wood was on the march in the north, one of the UK butterflies - and it is not alone - which are on the increase rather than fodder for the media's inevitable preference for bad news.

This one came inside here, a day after I had watched two dancing about above our lawn but didn't have the camera handy. Its excursion was a day for butterfly adventuring; a Small White flew indoors as well while a Brimstone and a male Orange Tip - the gender with the actual orange - circled more cautiously outside. On a walk to Kidlington yesterday, we also discovered that the eggs of the rare Brown Hairstreak have been found in St Mary's Fields, by the church with its slender pencil of a spire. So there's something to look for.

Why do people love butterflies so much more than moths? In-your-face colour is the main reason, I think, as in this picture I took yesterday of another field on our walk. Who isn't fond of bright poppies? The Speckled Wood isn't the most vivid of the UK's 60-odd species, but it out-colours the average moth, especially in flight when most of the latter look like large bees.

Today's serendipitous post also includes our Interesting Bird, actually only a Tom Tit but one which has chosen to ignore our predecessors' bird box in favour of a hole in the tree right beside it, like someone rejecting purpose-built new flats for a thatched cottage. The parents fly too and fro all day with offerings for their brood and we should see fledging soon. Next door's bird nuts are currently host to three fledgling spotted woodpeckers whose efforts to master the feeding system cause much fun. 

Here are the neighbouring homes, with one of the adult birds in its doorway. Sorry about the blurring but I don't want to get too close and risk them deserting

Next I managed to get one of the birds in flight, but so blurredly that I've added the large caption

Finally, a little film seemed the best bet. I hope it works on your computer.

To end with,  some moths at last: two more of the many which puzzle me. I keep trying to identify them and feel very hopeless not even to be able to decide whether these are different or the same species in different states of dilapidation. Common Marbled Carpet? Dark Marbled Carpet? Ben? Dave? Are you out there? Help!


David Shenton said...

You really need to see the underside of the hindwing to separate CMC and DMC, which can be done if you have them in a pot.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help today



MartinWainwright said...

Thanks v much Dave - just narrowing it down to one of those two is a great help

all v best as ever