New Year, New Moon

Cyclamen in snow last year – too warm this year so far

New Beginnings!!

Not quite sure what this means exactly – for me, or for the world, but there’s a palpable sense of excitement I’m feeling, for some of the possibilities…

Also if I’m honest, for the chance to possibly see those flashing and orange dotted undersides of Smooth Newts again, come February – I can’t wait…

copyright FSC

Been putting off writing until now – though there have been other more unexpected wildlife encounters since last I wrote. For example 3 weeks before Christmas, during a visit from a friend who’d first visited in high butterfly season, we spotted a Red Admiral, closed up and clinging on to the side of the bird table, in the rain!

Red Admiral in December

I’m afraid to say I moved it – woke it and let it climb onto a piece of browning apple and together with the apple put it into the shelter of a sage bush (still leafy) where it soon disappeared from view. I’m not sure, in fact I’m pretty sure you’re / I’m not supposed to intervene like this – however, having spent all autumn nurturing Comma caterpillars on my few mangy nettles I couldn’t stand by and see this dear Red Admiral get frozen…or dripped on…

Dear might sound too strong but honestly I didn’t know – HAD NO IDEA – these really lovely butterflies fly throughout winter and only take the lightest shelter….Did you?

Finding there’s just so much to learn and the experts are very kind-hearted at sharing info – also with tips to make outdoor spaces more butterfly- and caterpillar- friendly.

Was so pleased that it was a sunny summer’s day back when my friend first visited and the 4 Peacocks, 5 Red Admirals, many Whites and the odd Comma were fluttering about, as I’d promised her they might be! Am adding to the Butterfly bush / buddleia amounts plus that blue bush gosh what’s it called again ??

Still finding however hard I try with growing annuals and different sorts of wildflower that buddleias and blue bush flowers are best. Though the Knapweed did quite well for a bit, and the bees loved the Nepeta most again this last year. I suppose and hope the general mix of colour and scent is attractive to butterflies in what is quite a difficult (almost cul-de-sac) garden for them to find, with high fences and surrounded by houses and tall trees on 3 sides.

Had a spurt on attempting to get attracting Speckled Woods – they’re so characterful and totally territorial, a bit like me???! I’d love to see some here and it’s possible, with the grasses at the edge of the 5 shrub bit of woodland (inc new addition Viburnum Opulus “Guelder Rose”) with birch and magnolia trees…You never know! I will report here of course, should Speckled Woods ever make an appearance…

Meantime Comma caterpillars and chrysalises were the great excitement, I’m assuming they hatched out because the cocoons disappeared?

Longing for another Butterfly summer but there’s the excitement of the Newts, hopefully more Frogspawn and tadpoles and of course all the bulbs and scents of Spring first to look forward to….

Meantime, still seem to be plenty of surprises – one of which was a Caterpillar I can’t ID, probably a Moth of the winter variety, munching on my Hellebores! (I don’t mind, glad to be providing some extra food for these much beleaguered creatures 🙂

Unidentified Hellebore munching caterpillar

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