While it hasn't been a stoater of a summer as yet, I do love this time of year when there are enough days of high pressure to make for good days of running and photos. And in between times there is the occasional sunset or wildlife incident that has me running for the camera. (ALWAYS have one with you: at work, out running, in the bath etc. as you never know when something amazing will pop up.) Or just some young swallows fledging(?) across the way at work. These were about 30 yards away at the next house over from the one I was painting and were filling the air with their calls. I think the adults were shouting at the kids to hurry up and leave home. From observations the adults have longer tail feathers than the fledglings. And all of them zooming about the roof tiles like guided missiles. It makes me want to stop painting and get out a dslr with giant lens. I don't have one and wouldn't carry one about with me day-to-day, so you'll have to make do with just an impression of this and that. By the way, I was painting the eaves near an abandoned nest and it was rock solid: whatever building material they use, mud and spit I imagine, dries rock solid, and holds on like chewing gum. Impressive, and better than most builders.
a good reception from sky
Meanwhile another Saturday, another Gullane run. The sun was away on its holidays so we had to settle for hunting out luckies rather than them all being out and about. Imagine being a caterpillar and trying to work out when to pupate and emerge in time for the sunny Scottish Summer. Get it wrong and you could spend your entire fortnight lifespan sheltering under a leaf as the rain pelts down. For all their technologies the Met Office and BBC are often only anecdotally accurate.
old lady in rocking chair
so we had to settle for what was out and about
like this dark coloured butterfly, hang on it's a slug and it's doing a poop
or has a prolapse, oh my god!
poor photo of a shaded broad bar (moth)
So at first it appeared there was little in the way of bugs and beasts. "Where are they all?" I asked Mary, "they can't have devolved back into caterpillars and pupae?" Mary reckoned they were all hiding in the long grasses. We found the spot where there had been lots of activity last run and hung about. I had slightly different tactics from M. While she waited patiently, looking into the grasses and flowers, I stomped about trying to kick the little blighters out of their hidey holes. And shouted quite a bit as well, especially when I got lucky and chased some Blues out the grass. And there were Skippers as well. One of the most unlikely butterfly names, a cousin of the small skipper, and rewarded for its plain brown grey wardrobe, is the Dingy Skipper (not Dinghy as I first imagined). (You will need to travel North to Moray or South to Engerland to see one.) (As if anyone ever made that trip for that reason!) In Germany known as the Dickkopffalter (thick-headed). As the subjugated have it on social media: haters will hate.
It was interesting to monitor a small area of scrub and by staring intensely into it you could almost make the inhabitants appear. Very soon the place was hopping with shit you normally run past unobserved. I didn't know what these barley sugar bugs almost exclusively fornicating on hoary ragweed were called, but google 'bugs on ragweed' and the first pic is Cantharid Beetles Rhagonycha fulva mating on Ragwort. Also starring in Bugs in My Backyard is the marvelously stripey Cinnabar Moth caterpillar. Hairy and stripey and it doesn't fly away while you shove a camera in its face. Tricky to see which end is the front. I wonder if it feels orange and black as a caterpillar and then red and iridescent black/green as a moth. More usually there is a hint or more (in colour and shape) of the later instars as a larvae changes to pupa then imago. (The pupa of a Red Admiral looking very similar to the underwing of the adult). I think they have monitored memory over the course of the process but ironically I can't recall the results. It is an audacious phenomena - that a creature makes a sealed outer, then liquidises itself and uses the mulch to build all the bits required of an almost totally different creature. I recently watched an Atlas moth at the butterfly farm (coming soon to this blog!!!) drying out after emerging and you could watch the internal fluids swoosh around its big thumb-thick partially transparent body as they presumably solidified into the guts of this mammoth bird-sized furry muppet. Mind boggling!
Then, as if purely to please us, a single fritillary popped out of nowhere and posed for a few photos and was gone. Never get tired of taking their photos!
Some web-maker had pulled all these grasses together to make some hellish web, egg and fly dinner pie. No I wasn't going to poke in amongst it to have a look thanks. Must have taken some organising and engineering (unless owner was HUGE) so hats off, but moving along!
the call of nature
lifted by the Blues
(Not-so) Common Blues: I love their little orange love hearts - that a creature with such blue (upper) wings has orange on the underside is quite surprising. They are still one of the least easy to get up close to and rarely pose with open wings the right way up. They give me equal amounts of joy and conniptions.
Pentlands were getting it
The last of the Burnets. Due to its spot groupings I'm going to suggest this a six-spot although it seems to only have 5 (and a bit on the underwing showing.) Even though on close inspection they can be a bit yeurgh and black and hairy, I love the Burnets for their 2~3 week emergence (where the hell are they for 49 weeks?) and their non-camera-shy attitude. See you next year dudes!
With the sun nearly breaking through and the air warm, Mary suggested a visit to the shell and stone gallery. Again an nice antidote to stress and life; a potter about, picking up shells and stones and bruck and taking photos of them is mesmerising. At first you see nothing. Then you get your eye in and you want to fill your pockets with all the treasures lying on the beach. Deep joy.