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Birds and butterflies


by Richard Jones

When the swifts first returned on May 2nd there were only three or four of them. Last year we had a huge gang of about 15, wheeling in the sky and screaming down the street at top speed, just above the lamp-posts.


RichardWhen the swifts first returned on May 2nd there were only three or four of them. Last year we had a huge gang of about 15, wheeling in the sky and screaming down the street at top speed, just above the lamp-posts. I always take these wonderfully streamlined birds as the perfect herald of summer and I wondered why there were fewer this year. But on Wednesday there they were, a large group of maybe 20 swooping way up high.

There must be a huge volume of aerial plankton up there. Every sudden dart aside must be the swift snatching up a flying insect. The last few evenings have been very good for insects bumping up against the lighted windows of the kitchen. Monday saw a female stag beetle, upturned, legs in the air, as she bumped into the wall and dropped to the floor. And yesterday the cats brought in a huge black and grey moth - the old lady, Mormo maura - which fluttered around the kitchen ceiling until rescued.

Wednesday also brought the first large cabbage white butterfly of the year. I don't grow cabbages so I'm not too worried. The caterpillars sometimes make a mess of the nasturtiums, but the plants are so vigorous by now that not even a mass attack could do much damage. I had a quick look and sure enough several leaves have clusters of about 20 white eggs. Each egg is beautiful under the microscope, squat, almost spherical with 25 to 30 fluted grooves running top to bottom.

And shortly before posting this, I've just walked into the front garden to find a male meadow brown butterfly sunning itself on one of the flower pots just inside the front gate.



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Gardeners' World Web User 23/07/2007 at 00:53

I am surprised to read that you only saw your first cabbage white this month, as I have had several since early May. I have still had the odd one or two despite the torrential rain in the past few weeks. Keep up the good work your articles are enjoyable.

Gardeners' World Web User 23/07/2007 at 00:53

Yes, we had our first visit from the cabbage white butterfly this week. We took some photos of the presents they left us - beautiful eggs!! See them here.

Gardeners' World Web User 06/11/2007 at 12:42

When do Great Tit birds begin to build their nests?

Gardeners' World Web User 01/01/2008 at 00:00

Gardeners' World Web User 01/07/2008 at 13:15

I found a rooster potato that had started to grow roots and for fun planted it in a very large pot in my yard it's growing very well but what do I do next, it's been growing for about six weeks now and I topped the pot up with more soil about three weeks ago, can you help

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