Back Down to Daneway

As we were still technically on our holiday that never happened/staycation at the weekend, we decided to head out again for another butterfly day. Not a new species this time, but back down to Daneway Banks in Gloucestershire to see the Large Blues that we had only seen once before.

As we entered the reserve, the air was positively buzzing with the sound of grasshoppers. I think they were Meadow Grasshoppers and they were everywhere, pinging away from us as we walked across the grass.

The commonest butterflies by far were the Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns.

The Marbled Whites in particular were very fresh looking and quite stunning in the sunshine.

We even managed to find a mating pair; the female is the one at the top with the browner looking markings on the underwings.

It was a bit cloudy when we first arrived, so the Large Blues weren’t flying much, but as the sun started to come out we spotted a couple. On our previous visit we had only managed to get photos of a mating pair of Large Blues – most unusual for that to be our only shots, but it meant they had their wings closed. So this time we were keen to get one with its wings open. Fortunately the first one was fairly relaxed and let us take a few photos.

A very helpful reserve warden then pointed us in the direction of a “hot spot” for them, further into the reserve. This coincided with the sun really coming out, which made them much flightier. So although we probably saw about 10 more, we couldn’t get as close again to get better photos.

The final individual we saw was another raggedy one, who was perhaps to worn out to be bothered flying off, so allowed us a photo of the underside of what was left of his wings.

We’d seen a few skippers about during the day, but they are so fast it is often hard to tell which species until we can download the photos. Turns out these ones were Small Skippers, our first of the year.

The final butterfly species appeared just as we were leaving the reserve – a Small Heath, again the first of these we’d seen this year.

Once again I failed to get decent shots of a couple of birds. This woodpecker sat on a fence post for ages as I crept closer trying to get a photo, then of course just as I was getting within reasonable focal distance he flew off.

Most unusually a swallow landed on the ground only a few metres away from me. I was so surprised that I didn’t react quick enough to get a photo of it on the ground, only this blurry one as it took off again. I’d always thought they stayed on the wing almost permanently apart from egg time, but clearly this one had other ideas.

As we were about to leave the same helpful warden suggested that we might want to nip across the road on our way back to the car and have a quick look in Siccaridge Wood. It is an ancient coppiced woodland and there was apparently a Greater Butterfly-Orchid just 30 yards in. Never having heard of this, let alone seen one, it seemed worth a small detour. Sure enough, exactly as described was the tallest British orchid we’ve ever seen; it must have been at least 50cm tall. With hindsight I should have got Chris to take a photo of me next to it for scale (I stand a majestic 1.5m tall).

I can’t say the flowers looked particularly butterfly like to us, but it was certainly an impressive plant.

On our previous trip to Daneway we had finished up at the very nice Daneway Inn, but sadly of course that wasn’t possible this time. Daneway Banks is a fantastic site and a real success story for the Large Blue butterfly, which had gone extinct in the UK before the heroic efforts to bring it back. The perfect way to round off our non-holiday.

30 Days Wild – Day 6

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_06

I am very lucky in that not only do I work on a farm, but it is an organic farm in an area of beautiful countryside – Upton-on-Severn to be precise. Despite having worked there nearly 5 years now, I’m ashamed to say I’d never actually gone for a walk to explore it. It took Day 6 of 30 Days Wild to get me up from my desk and out with my camera. With hindsight I maybe shouldn’t have picked the hottest day of the year to venture out – I did look a bit like a boiled lobster by the time I got back (much to the amusement of the other staff), but I had a lovely walk. I didn’t get as far as I intended, mainly due to the excessive heat, but I can explore other bits another day – I really should of course get down to the River Severn itself!

We have lovely views at work across the Severn towards the Malvern Hills, which were looking a bit hazy in the heat today.


As you might expect on an organic farm, the fields and hedgerows are full of wildflowers and insects.



A lot of the flowers I was familiar with like the Cow Parsley and this Red Campion.

Red Campion

But others were new to me like this Hedge Woundwort and Black Medick – the power of Google and the good people of i-Spot were needed to identify these.

Hedge Woundwort

Black Medick

It was great to see so many bees making the most of the sunshine too. There were lots of different species about, but I only managed to get photos of 3 (what can I say, the bees were very quick and I was very slow in the heat!) The honey bees were fairly easy to identify straight off (famous last words, someone will probably tell me this is something else!)

Honey Bee

The cute little male Early Bumblebee I also managed to ID myself too. I love the second photo of him – I know the bee isn’t in focus, but somehow he’s got attitude as he flies off!

Early Bumblebee male 2

Early Bumblebee male

The final bee is a Grey Patched Mining Bee (Andrena nitida), which I needed the ever helpful Bee and Wasp Facebook group to identify for me.

Andrena nitida Grey patched mining bee

Butterflies were abundant too, although like the bees too fast to get many photos. Pretty sure though I saw Speckled Woods, Brimstones, Painted Lady and some really small Common Blues. I was particularly chuffed with the Common Blues as they’re the first I’ve seen this year. Again apologies for poor photo, I couldn’t get close enough to get a better one.

Common Blue (1)

Although birds were abundant everywhere, the most obvious ones were the large members of the Crow family. Not being very good at bird ID, I snapped some photos with the plan of identifying them when I got home. Turns out I got three for the price of one in this photo. On the right hand side, there appears to be from top to bottom, a Jackdaw, a Carrion Crow and a Rook!


While I was watching the crows/rooks/jackdaws, a Buzzard flew into the field, much to the annoyance of the other birds. I’m not sure which of the 3 species it was, but several of them chased the Buzzard until it flew off. They were really going for it, although they are clearly much smaller than the Buzzard.


Finally as I headed back to the office, the Swallows were flying round the farm buildings and swooping over the field. Fortunately a couple of them landed on the roof long enough to get a snap.


So Swallows in the farmyard and sunburn all over my face – can only mean summer is here! Really enjoyed my walk out and about on the farm and will definitely try and do it again soon. The farm has hares and foxes too, so maybe I’ll get up early and go for a walk before I start work next time, as more chance of seeing them that way – cooler too hopefully!

Teasel 30 WEEDS

And finally the latest weed in my 30 Lazy Garden Weeds – The Teasel. Undoubtedly the largest weed we get in the garden (easily taller than my paltry 5 foot 1!) The teasel has to be one of the best things in the garden for wildlife – the bees love them in the summer and the birds love the seeds through the winter and I love them all year round. They do take up a lot of room though, so perhaps only for serious weed fiends like us at Too Lazy To Weed!