First Ground Frost of Autumn

We had our first ground frost of Autumn a couple of nights ago. Our two courgette plants were the first casualties: we found them collapsed in a heap of bent stalks and damp grey leaves. I managed to salvage a couple of the remaining courgettes that were not frost-damaged and they are now marinating in olive oil and lemon juice (with a little crushed garlic and chopped parsley), ready to be seared in the griddle pan for supper. A last taste of summer, or one of them: the tomato plants, closer to the shelter of the house, are still holding out.

We’ve had a few sunny days since the official start of Autumn on the 22nd, and there’ve been butterflies about – at least in the shelter of the valley here, not so much up on the plain. It’s been a mixture of freshly emerged hopefuls and others that are reaching the end of the road. They still have a kind of tattered beauty about them though.

Below, a tired-looking Speckled Wood, a Large White on an almost over Valerian flower, and what must be pretty close to the last of the Meadow Browns.

Below, some of the freshly emerged hopefuls including a Green Veined White on Viburnum, in pretty good condition

a Large White, head buried deep in late-flowering clover

And a speckled Wood, enjoying the Autumn Sun.

There have been plenty of Red Admirals and Commas about, and a few Small Coppers, though they’ve only ever landed when there’s been no camera to hand. But still quite a lot happening. Took a few shots of a Large White on the remaining daisies. Against the shadows of the long grass in the background they have an almost studio look to them.

Hummingbird Hawk-moths were visiting the garden up until about a week ago. Most of their favourite Valerian and  Buddleia are over, so they’re been having to make do with what they can find. The Lobelia proved popular. Didn’t get any pictures of them but here’s one I came across on Tilshead Down a couple of weeks ago, taking a rest on a bed of soft moss. The first I’d seen at rest.

And here’s another from a couple of years ago, sipping nectar from Campanula flowers at the front of the house. I see from the date the picture was taken that they were still around on October 7th in 2018.

The sun just came out, as I was sitting here at my desk, so I thought I’d wander off up the garden with my camera to see what was about. There were one or two whites and several fresh-looking Speckled Woods, one of which I took a picture of as it rested on an ivy leaf (below). Muted colours but a beautiful butterfly. It’s been a good year for Speckled Woods.

It’s been a good year for quite a few species. Not a great year for Common Blues though, or Painted Ladies. Despite having seen my first one arriving a week or so earlier than last year I haven’t seen another. Just goes to show: one Painted Lady does not a Painted Lady summer make.

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  1. A very nice collection of photos. I only saw my first Hummingbird Hawk moth at rest a few weeks back too. Currently in N. Wales and we’ve seen the odd butterfly – mostly Large Whites, I’d guess, and a few Red Admirals. None caught on camera though unfortunately.

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    1. Thanks. I’ve seen two or three now at rest – must be the time of year. Only find them because I’ve seen where they’ve landed. And they’re so dull-looking and well-camouflaged they’re not that easy to spot then. In total contrast to what they’re like buzzing around: colourful and hard to miss. Like one or two other moths, thinking about it. Good luck with the weather there in Wales.

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      1. The weather hasn’t been too bad (for Wales). We had 20 degrees plus the weekend we arrived (no doubt you did too). And last Sunday was glorious blue skies and hardly any wind. Yesterday wasn’t bad either. Raining today though! The lockdown is squeezing us out, firstly from the south and now the north. Though we will be driving across to Derbyshire on Friday for the next 2 weeks.

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      2. I love Derbyshire and its scenery and rivers. We have beautiful chalk streams down South, but those tumbling, bolder-strewn rivers fed by the peak district are special – I’m thinking the Derwent and the Hope Valley, amongst others. But then you’re not short of dramatic scenery and rivers back home either.

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    1. It’s been pretty changeable round here too, though nothing like 70 mph winds. We’re sheltered in the valley – most of the time. But have still been surprised at the variety of butterflies that appear when the sun does come out. They are tough wee things.

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