Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Life goes on

We're still trying to work out what the UK has done to itself with the vote on Thursday to leave the European Union. It'a always best to be positive and no doubt we will muddle through, but it is hard to think of worse examples in my lifetime of a self-inflicted political wound.

So let us take solace in moths and - initially - butterflies, for there are many of these about when the sun comes out to shine. The one I've featured today is a Meadow Brown nectaring on Love-in-the-Mist. Butterflies are much less easy to photograph than moths, being skittish and wary, but the Meadow Brown is helpfully territorial. Instead of chasing it, you can wait patiently for it to come looping back to where you first saw it.

This habit was recorded many years ago by the late Professor Edmund Ford who recalls a detailed survey of colony which confined itself to a small area in his great book Butterflies, the first of Collins' famous New Naturalist series. Meanwhile, while the Referendum votes were being counted, I went to great lengths to place the moth trap in an unusual position: 15 feet off the ground on the roof of our shed.

The results were, like those of the Referendum, disappointing. The best of a modest clutch was the Muslin Footman, a moth which is only locally common but I'm clearly in one of its hotspots.  There have been several in the eggboxes for most nights in late June over the last three years and 2016 is proving no exception. It bears no relation to the main tribe of footman moths, with their slender capsule shape enclosed in neat wings like a footman's coat. Its distinction is a set of slightly transparent wings which give it a blurred appearance - in common with much that I look at these days.

Finally, we have reached the time of the year when you set up the orangey flutter of Shaded Broad-bars walking round the local field. Above is one which I tracked down to its leafy refuge in a hedge. And below, a rather more crumpled one, captured in a friend's flat cap.

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