Posted by: Ross Gardner | October 5, 2014

Bonus days

The recent warm October days do seem to have had a sense of bonus about them.  Everything is pointing the way into autumn.  The tints of draining chlorophyll from the woodland trees.  Lanky poplars de-leafing from the bottom up, all but cutting the figures of trees prepared for winter dormancy.  The steadily building numbers of winter birds along the coasts: the Wigeon and Teal appearing on the marshes, plovers and sandpipers gathering on the estuary mud.  All the while a distinctly summery sun has made a few, rather more than fleeting appearances.  To make the point further, I sat on the seawall outside a certain Thames-side pub, enjoying a good ale in the warm sunshine while looking across a sweep of mud and the best part of a couple of thousand Brent Geese, birds which not so many weeks ago were still on the Artic tundra.  You can’t knock it really.

A spate of Clouded Yellow over the last few days has also been a somewhat unexpected treat.  They are migrant butterflies that arrive annually on our shores and in variable numbers – sometimes elusively scarce, sometimes satisfyingly frequent.  I have seen them often in September, but these are the first, I think, that I have seen in October.  The image below is not the best, taken last year and with pieces of grass in annoying places.  Today I nearly improved on the shot.  With finger poised on the shutter and steadying myself to shoot, I watched a fly come into frame, zig-zag its way towards the butterfly happily drinking from a Bristly Ox-tongue and predictably blunder towards it, putting it to flight.  Such is life, but the experience itself is the really precious thing.

It can be hard to imagine a wintery day when pondering it in the middle of July and likewise the sultry summer heat on freezing grey December day.  One season comes as another one goes, mingling for a time and offering up the pleasures of both.  I for one welcome all of them.

Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus).  Ross Gardner 2013

Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus). Ross Gardner 2013

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