© 2014 by Barbara Copperthwaite.

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An unexpected encounter

There I was, wandering down King’s Heath’s busy High Street when I see something that definitely shouldn’t be out hitting the shops: a big, plump, bright green caterpillar. Given the opportunity, this would turn into a Speckled Wood butterfly, but from the speedy way it was making its way across the pavement to reach the road, it was more intent on getting squashed. After a bit of coaxing (and some funny looks from passers-by who must have been wondering why on earth I had stopped dead in the street and was now crouching down) I finally got it on to a leaf and popped it on to a nearby bush. I don’t know how it will do there, and it may be that sadly its days are numbered anyway, but at least

Busy making other plans...

At first glance it may not have been obvious that I was, in fact, a dedicated nature-watcher. It could have been the bag of chips i was munching on, or the can of ice-cold pop that sat beside me, condensation trickling gently down its side. But nature-watching I was - I just also happened to be having a rather lovely evening. I had walked through Highbury Park into nearby Canon Hill Park, accompanied by Scamp, who was bounding joyously by my side with a stick in her mouth (she is always joyous when a stick or tennis ball is around). My friend was also with me, and I enthusiastically pointed out various butterflies (especially Gatekeepers. There are so many around at the moment. I even saw si

It's hard work but someone's got to do it...

As I sat down on the bank of the stream, hot sun beating down on me while my feet cooled in a clear, babbling stream, I couldn’t help pondering how very lucky I was. Here I was, looking as if I wasn’t doing a thing…when actually I was hard at work nature-watching. In the stream, playing around my bare feet, were tiny water shrimps. Beside me a flash of brilliant orange came fluttering then gliding, fluttering then gliding , until the Comma finally settled on some leaves within touching distance of me. On the other side of me were several Gatekeepers that had decided to rest in the grass. With their orange and brown wings closed, and only their duller underwing on show, it was amazing how har

Damsels...no distress!

I shifted uncomfortably. The sun had found its way through the leaves shading me and was hitting one spot on my shoulder and burning it; the log I was crouched down on was starting to get deeply uncomfortable; a nettle was brushing against the back of my leg in the occasional, gentle breeze; and Scamp had just shaken water all over me. So why did I have a big smile on my face? Over a week earlier local wildlife expert, Paul Anthony, had recommended I visit Sarehole Mill, which is famous as a place dear to J.R.R. Tolkein. It is a ten minute drive or forty minute walk away from Highbury Park, and Paul had told me of a very special damselfly there, something I would really love to see. So when

A trip to Essex

As soon as I stepped from the car I could hear the difference between Essex and Birmingham and the Black Country: the air was full of the sound of Grasshoppers basking in the sunshine. I had popped over to the south east for a couple of days, and was excited that already it felt as though my journey had been worth it. That distinctive sound was so loud, and if I stayed very still and looked very closely, I could sometimes actually see the Grasshoppers clambering clumsily amongst the grasses, subtly changing colour from bright green to straw yellow to brown depending on the colour of the vegetation surrounding them when they came to rest. Then with a flick of their powerful back legs, they wo

Wild walks

Just a quickie before I head off to Essex for the week! I went on a wildlife walk with local nature expert Paul Anthony around Highbury Park. He stages them regularly through the Friends of Highbury Park (check out their website for more info). It was fascinating. We saw Small and Large Skippers, Small Tortoiseshells, Speckled Woods, Large White, Ringlets, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown... And I learned that there are Elephant Hawk Moths in the park, so that's now the new challenge I've given myself: to spot and hopefully photograph one of these glorious day-flying moths. Yesterday I also saw a Red Admiral. These impressive-looking migrant butterflies travel hundreds of miles to visit this country

Butterfly bonanza

Two Treecreepers greeted me as I entered Highbury Park this morning, but that was not the best treat the day had in store. Today was all about butterflies... This is the time of year when they are at their most prolific. As I walked through the varying sections of the park I saw different types of butterfly everywhere I looked. A couple of Peacocks flitted around the nettle patch by a tree trunk, and in the distance I saw a Large White fly across the open grass (incidentally, I've barely see any white butterflies this year. Anyone else?) Over by the old pond a Comma rested on a bramble leaf, its scalloped wings wide open so that the full beauty of them could be appreciated. In the long grass