The Gatekeeper is on the wing just as bramble flowers are at their best, and groups can be seen feeding on their nectar. Its upper wings are a rich orange colour with a brown margin and an eyespot bearing twin highlights on the forewing.
The Speckled Wood is a common butterfly and familiar to many observers, especially in woodland where, as its name suggests, it is most often found. The appearance of this butterfly changes from north to south, forming a “cline”, where individuals in the north are dark brown with white spots, with those in more southerly locations being dark brown with orange spots.
Looking like a tatty Small Tortoiseshell, the Comma is now a familiar sight throughout most of England and Wales and is one of the few species that is bucking the trend by considerably expanding its range. The butterfly gets its name from the only white marking on its underside, which resembles a comma. When resting with wings closed this butterfly has excellent camouflage, the jagged outline of the wings giving the appearance of a withered leaf, making the butterfly inconspicuous when resting on a tree trunk or when hibernating.
Chores done, and with a weekend of mixed weather forecast, time for some dog-focused time and a few hours walking and playing with the dogs. We headed off to the Wirral, through the tunnel,queuing for ages at the toll, down the motorway a couple of stops before heading off towards the Thurstaston cliffs overlooking the Dee estuary.
Time to sit and ponder and gaze down at the waders out in the river, I could hear the familiar cry of the oystercatchers, and just about make them out, but I had forgotten to bring my binoculars, so had to rely on the zoom on my camera.
and closer. . .
Their are plenty of benches along the top of the cliff, which can be a bit blustery, and further back sheltered by the trees and bushes, where you can sit back and while away the hours. But the dogs were eager to be moving so soon into the walk, so pushing an empty buggy, with Heidi jogging behind, I headed out of the park to the walkway that leads to the old railway line.
Once we got to the gravel path it was time for Miss Hoppalong to get into the buggy, the sharp gravel being less comfortable to her paws than the soft grass. When she has had enough walking she will lie down and refuse to move, that’s when I know she’s had enough exercise. The vet said she will be prone to arthritis and it’s hard to know whether this is affecting her yet.
The path takes us onto a boardwalk by some reed beds. It was here last week we met someone waiting patiently for sighting of a kingfisher – his daughter, he told me had seen it there on two separate occasions and he had never seen one, I hope he was successful and managed to get a picture of it.
A dragonfly skimmed past, they don’t keep still for long, and I tried following it with my camera but it was much to fast. As soon as I could focus it had darted out of shot. And then, it alighted on the rail behind me.
Today was the day I took my stabilisers off and cycled off on my own, figuratively speaking. (ed. It was actually 21 days ago).
I have always relied on the automatic settings on my camera to do the work, then all I have to do is point and click. Oh the camera did come with pages of instructions which I lost and have since downloaded only to be as baffled by them as I was the first time I read them.
So some swatting up on exposure and shutter speed, I made a few notes in my note book and took to the field, or rather the path. I did take some notes on the walk, but I have to admit, I had no idea what I was doing. But all journeys begin with a first step.