Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Buddleja, Butterflies & Fledglings

The late summer garden gets a huge thumbs up from me. Late butterfly visitors are sometimes seen on sunny days feeding in my front garden. They do make me smile. They also make trying to capture photos and video quite a challenge. As others will agree, this can be a tad compulsive too :-)



I never see large numbers of butterflies visit my garden at any one time and I’ve only seen a few species. Seen (so far) here in my small Scottish Garden have been Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks, Painted Lady’s & Small Whites.

However, as regular blog visitors might expect, I do try my best to encourage wildlife to visit my garden by providing a variety of food. My nectar feeders didn’t appear to interest the butterflies (that I saw) but at the moment the plants in my front garden are.

Understandably known as the butterfly bush, my young Buddleja with only a few flowers is proving very popular as you will see here in a few of many photographs taken. Considering the butterflies will pass this way I have increased a planting of sedum earlier this year which is nearing flowering time.

Where butterflies/insects are concerned I am working on the theory of grouping plants that they may visit all in the one area to attract them. Some gardeners may call this a nectar bar. Lol... short on space for planting in my front garden you could call mine a mini bar ;-)

Winter damaged plants that were left to regrow sadly haven’t. So planting space free, with a bit of revamp to my window border we have the return of Verbena Bonariensis.

Yep… Verbena Bonariensis will be a very popular tipple in my butterfly mini bar when it flowers. I’ve a plan in mind to protect it this winter and plan to take cuttings too. Oh yes… and I have a pkt of seed to make sure I have some plants for next year.

As ever, I am optimistic that I will see new species arrive in my garden one fine, sunny day. This gardenwatch blog has shown me to expect the unexpected and always to keep a keen eye out the window!

Looking out my window tonight to wet, windy weather where bird feeders have been knocked off their tree hooks my thoughts went to the people and wildlife of Texas as wildfires rage there. I hope my blogging friends are safe and well.

Safe and enjoying the Buddleja in my garden on Sunday were bees and a Peacock butterfly. Safe too yesterday was a Red Admiral butterfly - although it did have a challenge holding on during gusts of wind.


My eye is always drawn to the eyes of the bottom wings of the Peacock butterfly.
Wings out fully like this it isn’t easy to miss.


It’s easy for the eye to miss the Peacock butterfly
when it feeds vertically with its wings tighter together.


In contrast, the Red Admiral is easily spotted when it feeds vertically.



Most butterflies can be easily missed when their wings are folded completely up and they show their camouflaged underside pattern. Photos of the Red Admiral yesterday switched back and forth to the activity at the House Martin nest built at the front of my house.

Youngsters could be heard chirping excitedly for food with the fledglings of earlier broods hanging around the nest too. I’m not sure how many broods we have had since nest building began back in June. Books suggest they could have 1-3 broods.

I might guess our House Martin nest has had three broods but how successful they have been I couldn’t tell. They are pretty high up under the eaves of our house and I have great difficulty seeing the camera screens when trying to capture images due to light coming in from the side angles.




As it was windy yesterday and the grasses and bamboo next to my Buddleja were making a rustling noise I was able to get closer to the Red Admiral butterfly with my camera which was a bonus.






Round in my shadier back garden there has been even more activity with late juvenile birds arriving at the feeders. Getting photos from my window is tricky and not so clear but I loved this shot with the juvenile Goldfinch with a sunflower heart taken at the end of August. Much fluttering of wings was done to get it too.




The middle of August saw begging Blackbird juveniles too. Note how close the seed feeder and fat ball is too! Taking photos in this area is a tad tricky too with extremes of shade and strong sunshine together.




A little closer and a bit easier to adjust light levels for images is the area right under my window. I had to end with this shot of another juvenile and one that has been a delight to watch from my window. The Dunnock is more of an insect feeder but this juvenile has taken a liking to sunflower hearts.




At a guess, based on when the first juvs were seen in my garden earlier this year, I’d say the Dunnocks may have had three broods but definitely two. I’d say both Goldfinches and Greenfinches have had two broods (maybe three). I’d also guess our Siskins have had two broods too.

What a busy place the garden is isn’t it… then there’s the border revamps… just how many can a gardener have in one season? What are you up to in your garden just now? What birds and butterflies are visiting you? Do share them in a comment – we’d all love to hear about them.

Sorry, you’ve not been hearing so much from me lately. Hope to get back to normal blogging service soon :-)


This post was written by Shirley for the blog shirls gardenwatch in September 2011.

16 comments:

Lona said...

What gorgeous shots. The Peacock Butterfly is just so gorgeous.I wish we had them here.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I agree with Lona. That peacock is a beauty. Of course all butterflies are pretty but I guess since we don't have this one it really stands out to me. Those eyes on the hind wing are marvelous camoflage. A predator wouldn't know where to strike. All your little birds are sweet. We have young house finches and Goldfinches in our garden too. Mostly coming for the water. Here it is still droughty. It is quite depressing. I haven't done anything in the garden but water plants I don't want to lose. It has been a terrible gardening season here.

Janet said...

Lovely images of the butterflies. Our bushes have finished flowering already so the butterflies have all moved to the verbena. We lost all of ours last year but they had already self seeded. I'm also going to add sedums although I don't like the way they tend to flop!

Rohrerbot said...

Really great observations and your butterfly pics are stunning. I am like you. I get butterflies but not by the hundreds. I'm also going to try and clump the butterfly plants together....and I think that should do the trick. This is the best time of year for our winged friends here in Tucson. They love heat and humidity!

Gardeningbren said...

I was thinking of you today. The American goldfinches were feeding their young...didn't realize they had a second brood... and thought "Shirl has not posted for quite a while". Glad to read yours tonight.

Planted four buddleja last year..and they are busy now, with hummingbirds...steady... The monarda is finished, so, glad I made more of an effort for them.

As always, your photos and dialogue are encouraging and inspiring.

Brenda in Nova Scotia

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Beautiful! I'm loving your red admiral--he sure is striking. :)

beangenie said...

What beautiful pictures - I'm very envious, especially of the butterfly ones, as I spent ages wandering carefully around my garden stalking butterflies just to try and see what they were (let alone photograph them)... Lovely!

Midmarsh John said...

A brilliant series of photos all round Shirl. Visiting flutter numbers here have been well down on previous years. My Buddleia flowered very early, too early for butterflies and the heather has only attracted a few whites, but plenty of bumblebees. The idea of a 'nectar bar' sounds a good idea.

Goldies have had two broods here also and their numbers are recovering well after two years of finch disease knocked them right back.

Sue@G.L. Allotments said...

Our buddleia is over now as it flowers earlier and this year not a butterfly in sight on it.

Our garden is full of young birds - I counted 18 goldfinches feeding on our ground feeding table. (I posted a video on my blog). They are starting to get adult feathers so are well past the being fed stage.

David Marsden said...

Hi Shirl, very taken with that young goldfinch and who doesn't like a dunnock? This much further south it seems to have been a pretty good year for butterflies - certainly having VB in flower for weeks now has helped.

Glad you're back!

Pauline said...

Beautiful photographs of birds and butterflies, they add so much extra colour and movement to the garden don't they? One of the best flowers to attract bees and butterflies is Eupatorium atropurpureum, they love it in my garden , it is always covered with visitors.

shirl said...

Hello everyone, thanks for all your kind comments. It’s great to be here again :-)

Lona, thanks, I agree on the Peacock. You have some pretty stunning images on your blog. Very nice :-)

Lisa, ah… didn’t realise until this post that you don’t get the Peacock butterfly with you. I guess with it being one of the species tracked here in the UK as a first sign of Spring that should have given me a clue. You’re right on the eye markings… I didn’t know the bottom wings were named ‘hind’ thanks for that. Oh dear, your drought sounds like it has almost spoiled your garden for you this year. I bet your birds really appreciate the water you put out!

Janet, thank-you. Interesting to hear your bushes are ahead of ours. My verbena is just new plants from a garden centre hence them being a little slow with flowers. Interesting too to hear your verbena self-seeds. Many others get this too but we don’t here. Ah… I have low varieties of sedum so flopping isn’t usually a problem but I do know what you mean :-)

Rohrerbot, thanks for stopping by. Delighted you enjoyed this post. Yes, great drifts of nectar plants just have to be a winner for both the butterflies and us. Ah… I can imagine heat and humidity being good for butterfly numbers. Lol… not conditions likely here in Scotland at this time of year. Enjoy your visitors :-)

Brenda, ah… how lovely to be missed in blogland, thanks for your very generous comment. It’s nice to be back. Ah… monarda is a plant I’ve thought about adding to my front garden but space is an issue so it will need to wait until I lose other plants. Hummingbirds on buddleja sound wonderful. I’d love to see photos if you manage to capture any :-)

Kim, hello again – thanks. I agree on the Red Admiral – although why it is called Red when it looks like a reddish orange colour to me :-)

Kate, thanks for popping by. I’m heading your way after this. I see you enjoyed your visit to Karen’s garden at the weekend. Thanks for your kind comments on my pics. Lol… I do lots of garden stalking too. It’s the bees that I have trouble with. I try to get even shaky pics to help me with ID’s. I don’t know many bees :-)

John, thanks – I’m delighted you caught this post. As you say, the timing of the nectar plants and butterflies doesn’t always tie together. In our case it is often the cold that is the problem when our plants are in flower. We’re just starting to see visitors and then the moment is cut short. Ah yes… I spotted your goldie pics on your blog. You really have had a lot this year. Yes, great to see an increase in numbers. Now, you just need the same to happen with Greenfinches :-)

Sue, As I said above the timing of flowering can be a loss to the butterflies when they arrive. Shame you’ve seen none on your buddleja this year. Great to hear of lots more Goldfinches – I must search on your video now :-)

David, yes, although not the best quality it was the moment I wanted to share with the young Goldfinch and parent. I have issues with reflection from my window as there is another in the distance behind me. Taking a guess your temps have been nice and warm for butterflies and with your plants likely to be 2-3 weeks ahead of ours they are well provided for. Thank-you, it’s nice to be back :-D

Pauline, thank-you. I couldn’t agree more on the colour and movement. Thanks for the thumbs up on the Joy Pye Weed. I have admired it in garden centres before. Not sure I have space for it in my garden but I’ll give it another look the next time I see it. I love the dark colour of its stems. Thanks for sharing your popular butterfly plant :-D

Christina said...

Great photographs of the butterflies, Shirl, you're right last year I spent hours trying to take 'in-focus' shots of the insect life; this year I haven't had the time but I have been photographing the various bees on the sedum, I'll share them soon. Christina

shirl said...

Hi there Christina, sorry about the delay in my reply. There has been a reason behind my absence. It has been a difficult time.

Thanks, delighted you liked these pics. Snap… the next day I was at my sedum taking pics of another butterfly the next day after these pics were taken. Maybe they’ll see the light of a blog post soon. Looking forward to seeing yours :-)

Juliet said...

Your butterfly photos are beautiful, Shirl - thank you for posting them - and I love that shot of the juvenile goldfinch being fed :-D

I do hope all's well with you, and that you didn't suffer too much storm damage earlier this week.

Garden tips said...

Your blog has some incredible photos as well as great posts.