• Barbara Copperthwaite

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 it stands some chance there, while it stood none whatsoever on the pavement. At the very least, it may make a tasty morsel for a bird.

Finally back at home after a spot of shopping and some unexpected wildlife, I got changed quickly and headed to the park with Scamp. It was far too glorious a day to stay indoors.

At the old pond a single Brown Hawker flew lazy (for a dragonfly) circles above it, once again at just above head height, which seems to be its favoured place. It might not seem important to note at what height something flies, but it can help with identification if all you get of something is a very brief glimpse. Every little bit of information helps!

Below the dragonfly swam the Moorhens. There are now adults, juveniles, and young chicks there, as a late brood has successfully hatched. They seem to be doing really well, and it has been a bumper year for the Moorhens. The Mallards ducks on the other pond have not been so lucky, sadly. I only saw one duckling this year, and that disappeared. There are now some late arrivals though, and I have my fingers crossed for them.

While I am on the subject of successfully raising broods, I must mention the Canada Geese. These parents have done a stirling job of raising their young, which have rapidly put on weight and now look virtually identical to the adults. They are well and truly through their ‘ugly duckling’ phase, which I rather cruelly referred to when they were shedding their downy feather for the adult plumage; they now look magnificent and very strong indeed.

The Gatekeepers were once again out in abundance yesterday, too. I particularly saw lots of females (they are smaller and brighter than males) fluttering busily and landing in restless manner on Ragwort and Knapweed. I've added a new shot to the Fact File that I am particularly pleased with! And the Knapweed flowers themselves are now turning from the pale purple spiky flowers to the fluffy seed-heads that will disperse on the breeze - pictures of which are in the Gallery.

Nearby, beside one of the streams that run through the park, was a Large White which was drinking moisture from the muddy bank. Further on, near the Italian Gardens, I think I saw a Wood White butterfly. It was flying slowly, which is typical of the Wood White rather than the Large White, and they do like the edges of woods and parks, so… Anyway, I got a photograph of it, so if anyone wants to take a look and confirm or deny then I’m all ears!

The Italian Gardens are looking magnificent at the moment, I must add. I’ve popped some photographs onto the Gallery, if you want to have a look. They are in the Landscapes and Miscellaneous section.

#canadageese #highburypark #kingsheath #largewhitebutterfly #mallards #speckledbrown

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