The sun was shining bright and hot today for Paul Anthony’s wildlife walk around Highbury Park, organised by the Highbury Park Friends group. I always come along to his walks as it is such a great opportunity to learn from someone who knows so much. The park’s Senior Ranger, Alf, came along too, so there was a lot of knowledge packed into this group!
We concentrated on butterflies, walking straight over to the meadow area by the car park. And what luck! The hot weather had brought out the first of the Skippers, which I have been anticipating for the last few days. It was so great to see several Large Skippers flying around in their distinctive up and down flight pattern (this is where they get their name from, as the bob up and down almost as though skipping). From my photographs you can also see how Skippers hold their wings in a distinctive way when resting. Some were also resting on the nearby brambles – which just goes to show how important habitat like that is. Nature isn’t neat and tidy, so we shouldn’t be either!
Don’t be fooled by the Large Skipper’s name, incidentally – it’s a small butterfly. Hopefully, we should see Small Skippers too, soon – any day now! They look very similar to Large Skippers and it’s easy to mix the two up, but if you want to know more about them, head to my Fact File.
We also spotted Ringlets, Speckled Wood, and Meadow Brown. Sadly, there weren’t any blue butterflies about – the amount of holly that was cleared by the rogue clearer may have done a lot of damage to the Holly Blue’s population in the park, and I haven’t spotted a Common Blue in the park at all since starting this blog (that’s not to say they aren’t there, I simply haven’t seen them).
Common Blue butterflies feed on Bird’s Foot Trefoil, so it’s great to see some in the meadow area of the park. Although called the Common Blue, this gorgeous butterfly has declined by 25 per cent in the last ten years. It is a victim of habitat loss thanks to people tidying up rough, grassy areas in gardens, parks and countryside.
Let’s hope that the expansion of the meadow area, and sewing of wildflower seeds to encourage more species, will get the go ahead in the park’s Management Plan.
We wandered further through the park, to the Italian Gardens section. The whole place was, as usual, alive with various bees and Alf spotted a fantastic bee mimic fly. I’ve sent him the photograph I took, and he’s going to use it to identify which kind. I’ll keep you updated!