Sunday, August 28, 2016

Wall butterflies

It hasn't been a good year for butterflies here in North East England, so it was a delight to see several of these wall butterflies along the bank of the river Tyne downstream from Corbridge on Saturday ......

... either feeding on creeping thistle flowers or .....

... sunning themselves on the damp, sandy soil beside the river. The beautifully mottled underwing pattern, with the rows of 'eye' markings,  makes them quite difficult to spot against the sandy background, especially when they align themselves with the sun's rays so that they cast very little shadow .. but .....

 ... when they open those wings their pattern is very striking.

 It's remarkable how aggressive these butterflies are, with males defending their territories against all-comers with ferocious aerial dogfights, chasing each other in tight circles, even sometimes clashing wings.

The wall seems to be one of the species that is much less common in our region than it was thirty years ago, but this seems to be a very healthy population.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


We walked over the moorland north of Blanchland on the Durham/Northumberland border today, when the blooming of the heather was at its peak. A sea of purple, with golden patches of wavy hair grass and bright green Polytrichum and Sphagnum mosses in the spaces in between.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Autumn on the way

The 'season of mellow fruitfulness' is creeping up on us and some fine fungi are beginning to appear. These were photographed at Auckland Park in Bishop Auckland today.

Giant polypore Meripilus giganteus on an old tree stump. Two more photos below.

Chicken-of-the-woods Laetiporus sulphureus on an ancient sweet chestnut.

A second specimen of chicken-of-the-woods on the same tree.

I think this, high up on a white poplar stump, might also be chicken-of-the woods, but it was quite withered. Wish I'd seen it in its prime.

Beefsteak fungus Fistulina hepatica on an ancient sweet chestnut