I may profess to love all seasons equally, and whilst I do find something in each turn of the year to admire, I have to admit that it is summer that rocks my boat, baby. This is for the very simple reason that for a naturalist there is just so much to see, so much to find, so much to gaze at in wonder. It may not be the most exciting time of year for birds, but as an all-rounder I find that the invertebrate and floral worlds more than make up for the relative dearth of our feathery friends. Moth-trapping, butterfly-hunting, dragonfly-seeking, wildflower-spotting, beetle-gazing and bee-searching are just some of the things that can occupy the time of an amateur naturalist during the summer months, so here is a selection of my recent spottings in photographic form.
This is the best time to get the moth-trap out for maximum numbers and species, although my back garden has limited moth appeal I still managed this astonishingly fluffy Poplar Hawk moth.
This beautiful Violet Ground-beetle may register as ‘zero’ on the fluffy-scale but it rates very highly on the ‘wow-factor’, this one was found sleeping on a fence at the park I volunteer at.
I love seeing something in nature for the first time, and this incredible Downy Emerald dragonfly with its metallic green and bronze gleam was a first for me at Buchan Country park near where I live, plenty about but this one was the only obliging individual.
More moth-trapping of course, but this time the catch was decent and I had four new species; including this very pretty Scarce silver-lines which I had wanted to see for some time, others included a figure of eighty, a Broad-barred White, and a Barred Red.
I may have seen plenty before but the cherry-blossom pink colouration of the Elephant Hawk moth always makes my brain fizz with glee, it’s a highlight of summer and this little fella warmed up in the (hot!) morning sun before whizzing off to find a safe place to spend the day.
This is one of the most distinctive and impressive caterpillars of any butterfly or moth in Britain, I may even say that it is prettier than the adult Puss moth into which it will metamorphose, it’s also a feisty beast when provoked, whipping those two ‘tails’ about like Indiana Jones. I found this fab larvae on a willow tree in a local park, the same tree where I found several of the same caterpillars last year.
Of course, it’s all about the Odonata at the moment, I am loving these amazing flying marvels, although I will admit that I have forgotten much of what I learnt about identifying them last year so I have had to brush up (start from scratch more like) with a lot of help from my recently purchased field guide illustrated by the brilliant Richard Lewington. These are fantastic beasts and I’m enjoying hunting for them, this one is a male Black-tailed Skimmer taking a break from high-speed dog-fights with other males.