agrimony, black knapweed, Bryn Euryn Nature Reserve, carder bumblebee, gatekeeper butterfly, hemp agrimony, hoverflies, Meadow Brown, nodding wild onion, peacock butterfly, ragwort, red-tailed bumblebee, self-heal, wildflowers of Bryn Euryn
The soggy conditions created by the rainfall this year have not been ideal for many late summer wildflowers and, perhaps as a result of that, it seems to me that there has been a drop in some insect populations. I was on the lookout for flower beetles, in particular soldier beetles, which in previous years have been prolific, and struggled to find many at all.
I spent a couple of hours roaming the pathways of Bryn Euryn on one sunny afternoon in mid-August, ignoring grey clouds rolling in at my peril, getting caught right at the top in a proper downpour. There is almost always something interesting to photograph here whatever the weather though, and these are my offerings for that day.
There were very few plants still flowering on the lower field edge, but the first one, the Great Willowherb, often mistaken for Rosebay Willowherb, is one I’ve wanted to mention for a while and will do at greater length soon.
In the clearing at the top of the steps that cut through the lower woodland is a bramble patch that always seems to attract an array of nectar-seeking insects. Today there were a good number of hoverflies, most the one photographed below, but there were a few other Eristalis species too.
I headed a bit round to the open grassy area that this time last year was covered in purple flowered knapweed and buzzing with dozens of insects, but now was looking quite bedraggled and bereft of colourful blooms. There was some knapweed, but hardly enough to go around apparently as most of the flowers had more than one bumblebee or hoverfly competing for its bounty.
In amongst the long damp grass was a pink flower that I recognised from last year but didn’t get around to identifying. This (I believe/hope) is an unusual plant of the allium family, common name Nodding Wild Onion or Allium. The pink bell-shaped flowers are tiny and have protruding stamens; very pretty.
The other staple of late summer nectar, Ragwort, is also flowering of course. I can’t not include it here, so thought I’d just put in a close-up of an individual flower to show how pretty they really are.
One flowering plant that is relishing the damp conditions and flowering prolifically here was Hemp Agrimony. Its flat, open flowers are very attractive to insects; great for butterflies.
There were a few butterflies about, but as the clouds came over and the air cooled those that were out and about were not very mobile. Meadow Browns were most numerous but most were fluttering about low down in the long grass. I spotted one on Hemp Agrimony, also a single Gatekeeper and was taken by surprise when a Peacock (butterfly!) flew right in front of my face. I did photograph them all, but by now it was minutes away from the onset of the downpour and quite dark, so the resulting images are a bit grainy, but there for the record.
Thank you Finn, and yes that plant is self-heal and not bugle; thank you for picking up on that so politely! No excuses as I know both plants well. The butterfly population has perked up here a bit too, so I hope our Indian summer lasts a bit longer to set them up for next year’s broods.
Finn Holding said:
Interesting post Theresa, I know what you mean about the impact of the weather. Butterfly numbers have plummeted for virtually all species here in Cambridge and dragonflies are nowhere near as prevalent as they have been in recent years, although some species seem to have picked up a tad in the last 2-3 weeks. (I have a question about your bugle – is it definitely bugle and not self-heal?)
Emily Heath said:
Stunning peacock photo. I need help with telling the difference between Great Willowherb and Rosebay Willowherb, so am looking forward to your post on that. We get a lot of willowherb round here, and also ragwort.
Thanks Emily, the poor Peacock was looking a bit worn round the edges but still beautiful. It’s been a great season for willowherbs here too and I don’t remember ever seeing so much ragwort.