Thursday, 28 February 2019

Back to normal

The recent 'false spring' has come to a juddering halt. After several days of very sunny weather today has been dull, cloudy and showery - and I'm glad. The old country saying:
'February fill the dyke, be it black or be it white' clearly refers to the need for the land to absorb plenty of water in readiness for the potential droughts of summer. To be watering the garden tubs in February is ridiculous and a bit more rain wouldn't come amiss.

So, although two days ago I photographed a Comma butterfly and yesterday I saw a Small Tortoiseshell, these insects will now need to find some shelter until sunny days return.

Small Tortoiseshell on Red Dead Nettle. Byfield, Northants.
27 February, 2019

At least our amphibians will breathe a sigh of relief - but so too will slugs and snails!

Mention of the Small Tortoiseshell, Aglais urticae, reminds me that we have a Large Tortoiseshell too, although it is now a rarity occasionally turning up in our southern counties and was last seen in numbers in 1947. The Large looks very like the Small but is nevertheless placed in a different genus as Nymphalis polychloros. In fact the Large Tortoiseshell is more closely related to another vagrant, the spectacular Camberwell Beauty, Nymphalis antiopa. Fingers crossed but with climate warming these two rarities may become regular visitors, perhaps even becoming established.

Anyway as I say, the return to normality is rather welcome. The soil is reasonably warm and now quite damp so I must get over to our allotment and put in a couple of rows of broad beans.

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