Spit and speckles
The sun wasn’t out much today, but it was very warm and quite muggy, so the Speckled Woods made the most of their chance to bag a nice piece of territory – which for them is a sunny spot. They actually move their territories with the sun as it goes across the sky, rather than having a set spot. And they fiercely defend them – if you see two Speckled Woods swirling around one another like mini tornadoes they are not courting, they are two males fighting.
There don’t seem to be as many of these butterflies as last year. In fact, the butterfly count does currently seem down across all species. The cold weather seems to have made them – and many dragonflies – delay maturing into adults. Hopefully we will hav
Bees, however, seem to be doing very well. Everywhere I look I see bumbles, honey, and solitary bees; many flowers seeming to move constantly as though alive themselves.
Randomly, there seems to be a huge amount of Cuckoo Spit about too. It isn’t, of course, actually the spit from a cuckoo, it is the frothy liquid secreted by the larvae of an insect called a Froghopper to protect them. The adult Froghoppers suck on sap for food, and their young create the ‘spit’ by blowing the bubbly liquid from their bottoms to create a protective layer around themselves. Why is it called Cuckoo Spit, then? Because it is generally seen for the first time around the time the first Cockoo calls are heard; in days of yore people put two and two together and decided they must be linked!
Something much larger soon attracted my attention, though, as I walked on. A magnificent male Bullfinch, was sitting atop a plant, pulling at the seed heads, so close I could almost reach out and touch it. I froze, shocked that I hadn’t scared him away. He looked at me then carried on feeding. So after a few heartbeats of my staring at it in wonder I very casually tried to take a picture. Slowly lifted up my camera…he was still posing for me… very slowly took the lens cap off… That was too much and he flew away to a nearby tree, watching me leave the area before returning to his food.