A Tale of the ‘Scarce’ Orange Butterfly…

On Friday, my sister-in-law, Charlotte, came over to stay. So yesterday, together with my wife, Jude, we all went out for a short walk along the Wales Coast Path. After about 30 minutes of walking, I’d got slightly ahead and was called back, as both said they had seen a “very small, bright orange butterfly, with black edges”. It flew off before I could get even a sight of it and, more crucially, before anyone could get a picture. Upon returning to the house, I got out my book and both said it looked just like the Scarce Copper. This is interesting as they are not known to frequent these shores, preferring mainland Europe.

To ‘set the scene’ further, this is what a Scarce Copper looks like and you would think it would be unmistakeable, other than for a Large Copper, which looks very similar, but is slightly larger and is also not usually found in Britain.

Given the prospect of maybe ‘discovering’ one of the first Scarce Coppers ever seen in the UK (perhaps in recent times), I set out today to visit the same location in the hope of getting a picture… The weather was breezy and many clouds were about, so I wasn’t hopeful.

But no, I did spot something flutter up. It was small, a little too brown (from my point of view) to be a Scarce Copper, but there was a flash of colour… Even though I thought I saw exactly where it landed, it had disappeared completely. After another 30 minutes or so of waiting and searching, I gave up. 😌

However, on the way to the location, I had paused to take some very poor photos of a Speckled Wood and a dragonfly. So on my return I was looking out for them to get some better pictures – which I did. And, as well as a rather strange looking spider (any suggestions anyone?) and a still loaded blackberry bush, I got some decent images… (But read on…)

Once I got home I was sorting out the pictures and, you should be aware that, I’m in the habit of taking a photo from far away before getting as close as possible to the subject. I took this picture:

Now I thought this must be a precursor to the dragonfly above, but no, and don’t ask me where this came from but, upon zooming in, look what I found:

It’s hard to tell, but I think this is a Small Copper. Now, of course, this may not be what my wife and Charlotte saw yesterday. So the jury is still out. Perhaps another visit is required tomorrow…? πŸ€”

One year on already…

It’s now just over a year since Jude and I moved back to the UK and we’re no nearer finding a house of our own. But then when you rent a remote cottage overlooking the Glaslyn Dwyryd estuary (see pic 8) you will perhaps understand why… (The bar has been set extremely high).

Anyway, I’ve mentioned (I think) in a previous post how many buddleia bushes there are dotted around the area and I was bemoaning the fact that the butterflies always seemed to fly by and dismiss those in our garden as ‘same old, same old’. However, I didn’t know that they flowered again in the autumn and for the past few days our biggest bush has been awash with Red Admirals (vanessa atalanta) – sometimes 7 or 8 at a time. I’ve seen other butterflies too, but only managed to capture a Painted Lady (vanessa cardui).

Moel Hebog Walk, Snowdonia National Park, North Wales

I don’t have tick lists as such, but one of my goals is to walk up to the top of all of the mountains that we can see from our house. Moel Hebog is the one which is more or less in the centre of the banner picture at the top of my site and is 782m or 2,566ft high. I’m surprised it’s taken my this long to do it, but on Sunday, with the heatwave still going strong, I set off from the car park between Nantmor and the Aberglaslyn bridge. After 2 minutes, I realised that I was heading in the wrong direction, but I was glad in a way as otherwise I wouldn’t have captured the two butterflies in pics 1 and 2 below. πŸ˜€

The route follows the east side of the river (or afon) Glaslyn to the quaint little village of Beddgelert (which was packed with tourists) before heading almost directly up to the summit. From the top, with my binoculars, I could just about make out our house through the heat haze, but the views in all directions were fantastic. Not only that but, while I sat and ate my lunch, I was treated to a fly past by a red kite and several Wall Browns living up to their names on the dry stone wall leading up to the summit cairn.

On my return, I’d hoped to see one of the Welsh Highland Railway steam trains passing by, but I had to be content with a shot of one in the Beddgelert station. (See pic 31).

Gwaith Powdwr Nature Reserve, Penrhyndeudraeth, North Wales

Just a few miles up the road from our house is a Nature Reserve with a very interesting history. Gwaith Powdwr translates, literally, as Powder Works as, in 1865 the site first opened as an explosives factory – primarily to serve the local mining industry.

However, in 1995 the factory was closed and, after decommissioning the plant, in 1998 the land was donated to the North Wales Wildlife Trust and turned into a Nature Reserve. Wandering around the area today, there is only a little evidence of its past and it has become a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as well as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Within the 24 hectares (or one tenth of a square mile or a quarter of a square kilometre), there’s a (very) small reservoir and I’d heard that there were dragonflies to be found, so off I went… Sadly the dragonflies flew around and around defending their territories and simply refused to land, but I did capture one damselfly (not sure if it’s a Common or Azure Bluet or, indeed, something else) and a Common Spreadwing (which is a first for me and this site! 😊)

No doubt I will return later in the summer to try my luck again.

Gatekeeper butterfly (Pyronia tithonus)

I’ve decided to take a slightly different tack with this site, since I’m not doing as many walks these days (except around a golf course!) So, interspersed with any walks or holiday snaps, you will now find more ‘one-off’ pictures appearing, like this little chappie who flew past me yesterday…

I instantly knew it was something ‘different’ and, to my surprise, I’ve never posted a picture of one of these before, as they don’t live anywhere near our old home in the Valais. Though they are quite common and widespread across southern Europe.

My little Collins gem ‘Butterflies’ book tells me they are “very fond of bramble blossom” and we certainly have a lot of that around our new home in North Wales.

North West Coast of Coll Walk, Inner Hebrides, ScotlandοΏΌ

You only need to take one look at the map (at the end of the gallery below) to see that this was going to be an outstanding walk, taking in, as it does, almost all the beaches along the north coast of Coll. The only drawback was that the return to where I parked the car was along the road.

The four people in pic 13 were the only other walkers that I saw all day. It’s a very quiet and beautiful island and well worth a visit should you get the chance. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜Š

West Coast of Coll Walk, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

After 3 days on the Isle of Tiree we decamped (literally) to the adjacent island of Coll. Accommodation was in short supply, so we slept for 2 nights ‘under canvas’, at the lovely Garden House campsite, before spending 4 nights at the fabulous Coll Hotel*.

The campsite is surrounded by an RSPB reserve, where you will almost certainly hear, if never see, the elusive and endangered corncrake. We were treated to an all night chorus by at least two of them (& a cuckoo) on our first night there. If you’ve never heard the call of a corncrake, please listen to this recording on Wiki and you’ll get a feel for our experience. The campsite does provide free ear plugs!

Positioned as it was at the western end of the island, it was a no-brainer for me to do an 8 mile / 13km circuit along the coastal path to the far tip of the island, before returning across country to Crossapol Bay. One of my targets was to ‘bag’ what must be one of the lowest trig points in the whole of Scotland, if not the UK, at Calgary Point, which stands at the magnificent height of 59ft or 18 metres. (See pic 13).

*Note that I shamelessly give the Coll Hotel a plug (indeed 2 now) as it’s owned and run by some family member’s of my cousin, Ron. πŸ‘πŸ‘ 😊

Seafari Trip from Tiree, Inner Hebrides

A whale watching trip has been on Jude’s bucket list (and mine if I was honest and had a bucket list) for as long as I can remember. So, with whales, basking sharks and all sorts of dolphins and porpoises routinely spotted off the west coast of Scotland, it was no surprise then that we booked a seafari trip while we were on Tiree.

Our trip would take us all the way across to Tobermory on Mull, where we had lunch, before returning to Scarinish Harbour. Our day was not complete though, as we packed a picnic and headed off to one of the other beaches to watch the sun go down.

As you can maybe appreciate, capturing good photos of sea life from a boat is not easy and a lot can be trial and error, but the prize for the best shot of the day goes to Jude for picture no. 14. It sort of sums up our wonderful day.