© 2014 by Barbara Copperthwaite.

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Feeling Blue

The sun was out, and I’d decided to make the most of it by nipping out with Scamp. She has not been well recently, and had to have an operation, so I haven’t been out and about as much. As we wandered along, I spotted a tiny, petal-like butterfly flitting along just above me then landing on bramble. It was a Holly Blue, tantalising me with the merest flash of its brilliant blue wings, then closing them as it fed on the flower’s nectar. Sadly, adults rarely open their wings when resting, so all I got was a shot of their, admittedly beautiful, underside. The underside is unique to the Holly Blue, making it easy to identify from the other blues in the UK. This beautiful butterfly is also unusua

The long goodbye

It is only August, but already there is change in the air. The summer, sadly, feels as if it is all but over, the weather has been windy, rainy, and decidedly dull, and leaves are already showing signs of starting their turn from lush green to burnished bronze. Acorns have now reached full size, though are still vibrant verdant in their cups, and scattered on the ground here and there are early fall conkers, their spikey cases not yet the rich brown that tells of hidden treasure inside. Now is the time that nature starts its preparations for survival, one eye already on what lies ahead. Birds are still relatively quiet and hidden, while finishing their moult – they shed their feathers and gr

Flight of the dragon

I’ve seen a good couple of Brown Hawkers around the park’s short grasses, and almost every day now I also see Southern Hawkers by the main footpath, attracted there by the flies that like to dance in the sunshine. I love to stand still in the middle of the path and watch as the dragonfly zig zags past me, first low, then high, sweeping the area all around me. It’s magical. And if I’m very lucky, sometimes the dragonfly will come right up beside me and circle, while I hold my breath in wonder as I take a close up look at its lime green body and sky blue tail. Yesterday I was lucky enough to see a freshly-emerged Common Darter, flying around above Henbury Pond briefly, then resting on a stick

The power of my cauliflower...

At home in my garden, something is nibbling on my cauliflowers. In fact, I now feel that I am ‘growing’ caterpillars rather than cauli! They are, in fact, the young of the Large White butterfly. It has been great to watch them grow from tiny little black, grey and yellow slivers of movement to the fatter creatures they are today. It may seem incredible that they are able to move around so boldly, and yet not get eaten. That is because Large White caterpillars accumulate poisons in their bodies as they feed, which make them unpalatable to birds that would otherwise gobble them up. This enables the caterpillars to peacefully munch away in plain sight, side by side with their siblings. They hav

Cutting news

The numbers of butterflies in Highbury Park has drastically fallen since the meadow was cut early. The colder, wetter weather has not helped, either. But on the positive side, it is now being arranged for the cut to always take place later in the season, around the back half of August. It is great news, and shows what can be achieved for nature when we all work together. In celebration, I've posted some photos I snapped before the meadow was cut, and hadn't previously posted. The tiny Small Skipper, so full of personality as it dances like shards of sunlight among the tall grasses before resting on a flower; the Comma, quite large, and fast though eratic of flight on its beautifully sculpted

Days of wonder

Probably my favourite part of Highbury Park at this time of year is Henbury Pond, though I’ll admit that my opinion changes from day to day. I love being hypnotised by the constant movement of damselflies that shimmer gently in the sunlight. This year the only blue damselfly photographs I have taken have been of Azure Blue. I haven’t even managed to get a Common Blue picture. So when I watched a Blue-Tailed damselfly come to rest, I started to get rather excited. I focused my camera, and took the snap as quickly and as carefully as possible, trying to not let the long lens move in the breeze that was gently blowing. I felt rather pleased with myself as the damselfly flew off, as I had been s

A feather in my Blackcap

There was a sudden rustle beside me, then a flurry as a small bird exploded from its cover among the reeds by the side of the path on which I was walking. I froze, camera at the ready, and followed its trajectory onto a nearby tree. Clearly it was a juvenile. That much was obvious from not just its small stature and slender frame, but the fact it was now waiting patiently in the tree, giving a little call. It was silhouetted, but I decided to take a photo anyway, hoping to be able to identify it later. A quick press of the shutter, and voila! I’d got it. I was about to take a second, just to be sure, when I noticed the adult join it, and proffer an insect. As the youngster leaned forward and