A morning of surprises
Another day, another first sighting of the year! The first Holly Blue for me! I was walking through the section of park that runs past the stone balcony, with the pond in front of it, and was watching a Large White butterfly go by when I saw it pass a tiny, delicately-hued butterfly. It could only be…and it was…a Holly Blue. And frankly, given the rate that holly is being cleared from the park, possibly my last ever Highbury sighting of this pretty little butterfly (yes, despite my previous positivity that things had slowed down, there has been further clearing).
Today I must concentrate on the positive though. I had already had a wonderful welcome to the park when a Mistle Thrush sang as I arrived, and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly flitted past.
More Small Tortoiseshells were in evidence further into the park. They particularly love the bank of brambles and blackberry bushes that run along the outside of the small copse in the mid-section of Highbury Park, near the car park. If ever there was the perfect illustration of how much damage the rogue clearer is doing, this is it – this tangled undergrowth is a haven for butterflies, and has now sadly been removed from other sections of the park. As I watched, a Wren darted through the branches, weaving its way expertly through the maze; these tiny birds adore staying hidden, and this is ideal habitat for them. Peacock butterflies are also flocking to this area now, and later even more types of butterfly will arrive.
For today, though, there was another little surprise here – this time in the trees. A Chiffchaff could be clearly heard singing. Another first for the year!
I wandered into the trees, and was amazed by the amount of Speckled Woods dancing in the shafts of sunlight that broke through the canopy of leaves above. One came to rest near me, and the golden rays shone through its wings, lighting it up like a stained glass window.
Earlier, I’d been walking through another wooded area: the one beside the train line. There, on the track side of the fence, I saw a magnificent dog fox. His deep russet coat shone in the sunshine, and his brush tail was very impressive. He was absolutely beautiful, and clearly very healthy. He had been doing spot of sunbathing when my scent disturbed him; he cast me a glance before casually moving on down the embankment and along the tracks.
My final delight of the day was in a very different section of the park though. Scamp hurried ahead of me as we walked through the Italian Gardens. She had a stick (joint equal with tennis balls as her favourite things in the world) so was far too busy to notice what had made me stop and look up… As I had passed beneath a tree heavily laden with blossom, I had heard for the first time this year a buzz of bees. Not just the gentle drone of a single bee, but a proper buzz of many thronged together. Looking up, I saw a good dozen or more making the most of the sunshine and nectar combination. Along with the whisper of a breeze through leaves (which I waxed lyrical about in a previous blog) this buzz encapsulates the sound of warm summer days – and I hadn’t realised how much I missed it until I heard it again.