Wednesday, September 5, 2012

After the Deluge .....

It was what my granny used to call "a clearing-up" shower. 

The ferocity of the rain hammering on the car roof drowned out our conversation, the road was awash and the windscreen wipers struggled to cope with the deluge. We were forced to pull over and park. We contemplated turning around and heading for home. 

But, as is often the way with the trailing clouds in a band of rain passing overhead during a depression, the short, intensive downpour suddenly slackened ....... and then stopped. Within a few minutes the sound of bird calls was added to the sound of water trickling down drains. A break in the clouds appeared, then a small patch of blue sky, then sunshine. 

We got out and walked.

The air was still cold and the vegetation was festooned with raindrops.

A few butterflies, sheltering in the undergrowth, cautiously opened their wings.

Somehow this skipper had survived unscathed, even though raindrops still clung to the harebell where it had taken refuge.

Bumblebees began to return to operating temperature in the sun, but this one was still so chilled that all it could do was raise a leg in self-defence ...

... but the butterflies were soon feeding on the devil's bit scabious flowers again ...

... in competition with hoverflies ......

... all seeking nectar supplies to restore their energy levels.

Within half an hour the breeze had shaken most of the water from the leaves and this caterpillar returned to feeding on nettle foliage ...

... where a cranefly sunbathed ......

.... and finally the bumblebees got busy again on the bramble blossom, which is very late after this soggy summer. They'd better get busy.......... 

........... because autumn is just around the corner, and the thistles are already releasing clouds of thistledown.

Arranging any kind of outdoor event in the British summer can be a nightmare, but our fast-changing weather patterns provide naturalists with some of their most memorable moments.

All pictures taken along the disused railway line between Romaldkirk and Cotherstone in Teesdale, last Wednesday, 29th. August.


  1. Fabulous Phil!! I always look forward to your posts, for a number of reasons. Much of the time they inform us of fascinating things (behavioural and biological) that we 'laypersons' just don't know about. Then you come along with posts like this one, supported by superb images, which strongly bring home the message that our countryside is just full of riches if we just keep our eyes open! Keep them coming!! Many thanks. Richard

  2. It is amazing that such delicate insects can survive unscathed.
    You had a grand walk. I have always wondered why bumble bees are never found with water droplets on their hairs.
    I see Northumberlandia is open. I hope that she has been planted sympathetically and will be similarly maintained. were you and your peers consulted? I will go next year after it has settled in and hopefully not fallen foul to the ravages of mountain bikers or ought that to be Bykers.

  3. Thanks for the kind comments Richard. All the best, Phil

  4. Haven't been to Northumberlandia yet Adrian - just seen the pictures in the paper. Looks impressive!