I'm not very sure where this year is disappearing to so fast! One minute it's Christmas, the next it's Easter Weekend and there are butterflies to be filmed. Or at least there would be if the weather did anything remotely resembling the Radio 4 forecast.
I had (more than a touch of) cabin fever due to too much editing - so stumbled out yesterday afternoon into misty greyness. Grilling of the Met Office radar showed a glimpse of hope - a wee gap in the battleship blanket. Camera and Max were installed in the car, and we headed south in search of Orange-tips.
We eventually arrived at a ditch full of Lady's Smock, (with Blackcap and Chiffchaff in residence) but the afternoon remained persistently overcast. Most butterflies don't generally fly below about 15 C, and finding them roosting is some sort of ninja trick, and I haven't been bestowed with the necessary second-sight. What we did find was a bumbling Bombus terrestris.I have a new obsession with bumblebees. They're charming insects, and really fascinating when you get into them. This big, fat bumble was a queen searching for somewhere to nest. You often see them in early spring wandering in a seemingly aimless fashion a couple of inches above the ground. The commonest ones are terrestris and lucorum (or Buff-tailed and White-tailed if you prefer). They are what you might imagine a bumble to be like. Yellow-and-black stripey beasties, fat and fluffy with either a buff or white bottom. This particular queen was disappearing for minutes at a time down badger sett holes.
We also found a fresh Peacock basking in the ditch. Filming it kept us entertained for a while as the misty greyness began to thin. Eventually there was a five minute period of unblemished sunshine, and two female Orange-tips appeared. One of which disappeared across a field, the other nectared prettily on the Lady's Smock for a while and was filmed from all sides. Then the sun, and the butterflies vanished as quickly as it had appeared, and we sloped back to London.This morning I spent two hours on my tiny patch, and found nothing more exciting than a Long-tailed Tit (and the drake Mallard), ooh and some Cowslips. Still no migrants. Pah!