The weather forecasters predicted rain so we set off promptly, wondering what treasures the woods would reveal. The first was a fresh Speckled Wood butterfly, basking on a bramble leaf in the hazy sunshine. We thought that it was likely to be a second brood as the earlier specimens are now looking past their best. Another Speckled Wood passed by so our insect rose to meet it, dancing together in the glade. It may have been a female leading to a courting ritual but it was more likely to be a male as there appeared to be a battle of supremacy their flight paths twisting around each other like a Celtic pattern. More erratic than the red arrows but with masterful aerodynamic skills there were no apparent collisions! We are lucky to be able to enjoy the beauty of these butterflies. Other areas report a decline of their numbers but they still appear to be plentiful locally.
Moving on we looked at the flower spikes of the hedge woundwort, towering above the whorls of the white dead-nettles sheltering lower down amongst the wayside foliage. They belong to the same family but are clearly different. Plant “families” are different to ours as not many people have hundreds of cousins! The woundwort is supposed to be good for shield bugs but they might have been out shopping that day as we did not spot any. In the trees above our heads several chiff-chaffs still sang their repetitive notes, providing a musical backdrop to the pair of nuthatches as they came and went from their nest box. They must have hungry chicks as they repeatedly returned with beaks full of grubs. I wonder how many there are? Just a few feet from where we were standing a robin delivered his musical welcome. Often overlooked at this time of year we remember those winter days when the robin song brought us cheer. As we listened his dominance of the airways was soon challenged by that tiny bird with a big voice, the wren. Again, to our delight, he sang almost within touching distance, his whole body appearing to quiver as he serenaded us (though he may have been singing to another wren!) We appreciated his uplifting notes but the clouds were gathering so we continued on our way, reaching home as the first raindrops fell. Just an hour or two out from a busy day but we felt refreshed and full of admiration of the natural gems to be found in our local woods.
P.S. for those who were wondering, our dog enjoyed the walk too!