Saturday, 30 September 2017

a flotilla of admirals

First up some pics from Friday. I was working outside Weds~Fri as the weather was fine for 3 days running, a rarity of late. Just off Leith Links, so I wasn't expecting much interaction with wildlife. However, a Red Admiral landed on the flowers in the little garden area beside the entrance I was painting. The sun was shining and I had my (older) camera with me so took these pics.



Saturday, and Mary was up for a run at Gullane. She had had a hard week and had taken a day off work (that never happens) about Tuesday due to being badly crocked. If we had a wheelchair she would have been in it. Not just legs but she had a swollen wrist as well and couldn't say how she got it. I think it is just old age! Anyway after a few days rest she was ready to run again so we paid a LAST EVER visit to Falko's and got coffeed up. (No scones or Raisin Brioches so we settled for half a cheese tongue and half a pretzel each.) (Lady behind counter said thanks for the card and she'd see us at Haddington. I like her optimism but that is a longer way to go for a coffee, and there's no beach.)

While we were drinking coffee and waiting for the (unforecast) heavy rain to stop, I noticed the ivy on the wall behind the toilets was flowering and full of Red Admirals. They are very keen on flowering ivy, as most of the other favourites, buddleia etc. have finished flowering. The proliferation of Admirals this year has been the late summer story in lepidoptera. Others have come and gone but the Reds have been omnipresent, and pretty much the main species seen regularly since the first week in September. Others have noticed this too. Springwatch blogged the findings of the biggest ever butterfly survey. It was carried out by Butterfly Conservation, and is noteworthy as butterflies tend to be a signifier for the health of all the wildlife in the country. Some species are declining, however there was a 223% rise in numbers of Red Admirals in Scotland (75% in England). This won't come as a surprise to anyone looking at the pics I have been posting lately. The big story a couple of years ago was the Painted Lady, another migrant. I don't believe I have seen a single specimen this year, although sightings have been made. This year is definitely the year of the Red Admiral.

We were both pretty hopped up on coffee and followed the usual route out the JMW and down to Aberlady. I was yabbering away about this and that, and Mary was discouraging my controlling ways, saying she wouldn't look this way and that, and I was to stop being so domineering. I refuted this and sarcastically made my point by laying a hand on her head and pointing it this way and that, while we ran. There were complaints about dishevelled hair, but I couldn't see any difference.

Along the trail side are these light purple flowers. If you take a pic of them they look whitish but they are purple. There were several Reds on them. Mary ran on as I pulled over for pics.

Hipster Stonechat with handlebar moustache.

Having found the delightful Newt last week under the boards, of course we had to check under them this week. Two dark toads lurked there and burrowed into the sandy soil trying to get away from whoever had lifted the roof off their home. Also the Newt was hanging out still and not any more pleased to see us than last week. I think we will leave them be for the winter now as they are clearly bedding down for the duration. We carefully replaced their roof.

newty beauty

Aberlady beach was just about entirely empty and the tide was out. This must be the first time ever I have run this stretch with a camera and not taken photos. I hear Portuguese Men O War have been washing up on the south coast of England. They can be small but remarkably toxic to humans and dogs. I was keeping an eye out for any stray jellies with balloon type floatations attached but other than the usual stranded lion's mane there were no prophylactic type killers. At the other end around mushroom corner we bumped into Helen and Jeff. Jeff is taking time out to recover from an injury, but hopes to run the Skyline. 

mushrooms going autumnal colours???

around Gullane Point this one flew out in front of Mary 
and she almost seemed to be playing keepy-uppy with it for a few steps.

also this rather swish chap

I count 14 and one in flight - a new record
although if I panned back to show the whole garden it would be around 40+

We both felt in good shape but Mary was reluctant to run beyond the usual 6 mile route. We had spoken about extending it to 12 or maybe 15 miles if it was all going well, but Sunday's forecast had brightened overnight, so it would be wise to quit while ahead, rather than push Mary's luck and set off her injuries again. There would be miles to be run tomorrow. I admit I was disappointed, but was then quickly distracted by one of the gardens along Marine Terrace. (A different one from last time.)

There were three groups of purple flowers and each had a swarm of Red Admirals crawling all over them. We were so intent taking photos that a dog walker on the other side of the road came over to see what we were papping. She was equally impressed. I have never seen such a congregation - or had to look up the collective noun for butterflies. Swarm, or Rainbow apparently. Mary came up with a Fleet of Red Admirals and I thought maybe flotilla, continuing the nautical theme. I took FAR too many photos while Mary (after a while) ran on to the parked car. When I eventually left I met her driving the car on her way to either pick me up or run me down, she didn't admit to which. I have restrained myself on number of pics posted here. It could be there is a limit to how many the average person craves. Weirdly I don't seem to get bored myself - there is always that perfect shot lurking just around the corner. 

Checking the photos over later there was a solo peacock in there too, maybe thinking it was a Red Admiral. They are of the same family being Nymphalidae.

We probably got the best part of the day. (Luck, not planning.) Just before we started running there was a heavy shower and then a bit later, after getting home via Tesco's there was a heavy shower of hail (even as the sunshine picked out the falling ice!) and we were surprised there wasn't thunder and lightning given how dark grey the clouds were. Tales coming in of some less fortunate getting soaked in the Pentlands!

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