Now it's the time for seeing butterflies

PUBLISHED: 11:30 28 July 2006 | UPDATED: 22:00 28 May 2010

With such hot weather of late, it really has been perfect for enjoying the dazzling butterflies and dragonflies that are on the wing. It isn t too difficult to see about 10 different types of each if you spend half an hour or so at the water s edge (for t

With such hot weather of late, it really has been perfect for enjoying the dazzling butterflies and dragonflies that are on the wing.

It isn't too difficult to see about 10 different types of each if you spend half an hour or so at the water's edge (for the dragonflies and damselflies of course) and anywhere where there are nectar-bearing plants for butterflies.

Good quality, wildflower-filled roadside verges are sadly hard to find now. The infuriating 'need' for a tidier countryside means many are mown and destroyed right in the middle of the butterfly and wildflower season. If you can find one that hasn't fallen foul of the dreaded strimmers, you are in for a butterfly bonanza.

The time is right for new generations of peacock and small tortoiseshell butterflies now and buddleia plants are coming into flower to provide what I consider to be the most irresistible food source to butterflies (and silvery moths).

Mature oaks are not common in the Fens, but if you do find yourself standing beneath one spend some time staring up at the very top in case there is a purple hairstreak butterfly fluttering around the canopy. These small and dark butterflies are strongly tied to oaks and need them to complete various stages of their life cycle from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult butterfly.

More and more painted ladies and red admirals are arriving from southern Europe and the first clouded yellow cannot be too far away now. Common blue butterflies are another species to keep an eye out for. They are small, but beautifully studded with orange and black spots and a variety of other shapes on their underwing.

Birdwise, return migration is gaining pace and a variety of wading birds are making use of shallow wetlands and muddy lake edges for feeding. The common sandpiper will fly ahead of you with 'flickering' wing beats calling its shrill 'pee-wee-wee' calls and the black and white green sandpiper flies up and away towering with its ringing 'klu-wit-wit-wit' flight call leaving you in no doubt what you have seen.

Little egrets have had another good breeding season on the Ouse Washes and good numbers have now dispersed to local wetlands. More and more people will be familiar with this small white heron now as it is such a part of the Fenland birdlife. I for one am delighted to have it with us.

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