Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The timing of the Comma butterfly

Perched high up on the small, dense flower clusters of Verbena bonariensis, in my back garden back at the end of August, the Comma butterfly looked like an aircraft about to take off. It’s easy to see how nature could influence engineering design isn't it?



Tears filled my eyes as I looked through my camera lens taking record shots of this returning garden visitor. Three days after my Dad died, September 2012, the Comma butterfly was seen visiting my garden for the very first time. I instantly made a spiritual connection with it and dearly wished to see it return one day.

The timing of the Comma’s return really caught me by surprise. I was filling the kettle at breakfast, having thoughts of my Mum in hospital with a misbehaving heart after her hip op., when something caught my eye through the window… and there it was swinging high on the verbena!




Another surprise with the Comma butterfly was that it was seen feeding on the Japanese Anemones and Astrantias – I hadn’t noticed other butterflies feeding on these plants before.

Although… yesterday lunchtime during a bit of deadheading in my front garden I did spot a Red Admiral butterfly feeding on the White Japanese Anemone growing out there in the sunshine. All change with the butterfly visitors this year then ;-)




As on its first visit, the Comma was only seen feeding for one day. Last time it was seen in my front garden almost a month later in the year feeding on Sedum. I wonder if it will return to feed on the Sedums now they are coming into bloom.

We might suspect that the warmer summer of 2014 has been favourable for butterflies as we have seen the biggest numbers visiting at any one time in all my gardenwatching years (almost 8 now).

Buddleja ‘Buzz Ivory’ in my sunny front garden has been abuzz with Small tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral, small & large White butterflies as well as bees and other insects. I’ve spent a few early evenings and lunchtimes just standing still, watching them. It's been very therapeutic at a time when I've needed it :-)




Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve', a pretty big plant now, continues to flower its socks of in my sunny front garden attracting many butterflies. This has become such a garden favourite that I have added other plants in sunny spots around my back garden and it attracted the Comma to feed on this second visit too!

Regular blog visitors will know I love to capture video of garden visitors and the Comma butterfly kindly cooperated by showing where its name came from… the comma markings on its underside! I’ve added a screen grab below for those not able to view the video.


Short Comma butterfly video, 40 sec with background music, try HD quality.





The pause a comma adds in a sentence pretty much sums up my gardenwatching and gardening of late. It’s been in stops and starts. I keep hoping I'll get back to more regular blog posting too - apologies there :-)

Prior to my Mum’s op we were on a family holiday (some new sightings there). Post op I've had spells staying over to help her (she is progressing well now).

That’s what makes the timing of my Comma butterfly sighting all the more special… I was at home to see it. Who knows - perhaps it waited around for me :-D



Copyright: Original post published on http://blog.shirlsgardenwatch.co.uk/ by blog author Shirley, September 10th 2014.

11 comments:

SeagullSuzie said...

How lovely Shirl. I'm so pleased the Comma stopped by to feast in your pretty garden.

Julie @Dragonfly Gems said...

Beautiful photos and video. So glad the Comma returned for another visit to your garden :o)

Gardeningbren said...

Oh what a lovely and poignant post Shirl. The Comma was waiting for You. I feel it.

As always, such beautiful photos. Glad to read your mom is on the mend now.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Beautiful photos! I am sure Dad is keeping an eye on you and your Mom.

Janneke said...

I loved to see this beautiful Comma butterfly in your garden.

Shirley said...

Hello everyone, thank-you to you all for taking time to pop by my blog and leave a comment after my infrequent posting :-)

Suzie, I’m delighted I have enough plants for the Comma to feed on now. Also, my golden hop has also returned after a serious thinning due to it being a bit too rampant in one area of the garden. As the golden hop is a great food source for Comma caterpillars it could help it make a home here. I didn’t know this when I planted the hop many years ago :-)

Julie, thank-you! I do love capturing images of tricky wildlife like butterflies :-) I genuinely couldn’t believe I was looking out my window at the right time to see the Comma return :-)

Bren, thank-you :-) I don’t bring personal stuff into posts very often but this was very poignant for me at this time. Thanks, tomorrow is our first outing for a follow-up appointment so finger’s crossed all goes well :-)

Lisa, thank-you, I want to believe that he is :-) It would have been my M&D’s 60th Wedding Anniversary 4 just days after this Comma sighting too :-(

Janneke, I’m delighted to be able to share this butterfly visitor – it really is a beauty when you look closely at it and see the tapered edges it has. It appears that it has been moving northwards up the UK in recent years so that makes its arrival to my garden all the more special too :-)

Pauline said...

Fantastic shots of your Comma, we have seen an increase in numbers but of fewer varieties, this summer. This is the first summer that I haven't seen a Comma!

Midmarsh John said...

Brilliant shots of the Comma Shirl. There are usually several here but I haven't seen one this year. Now I know where they went ;)

Sue Garrett said...

We've had more commas and speckled woods this year but a distinct lack of peacocks which were abundant last year. In fact I don't think generally we have had as many butterflies this year. Maybe the poor August didn't help.

Anna said...

How wonderful that your comma returned Shirl. Beautiful photos. I especially like the one which has captured the spider's web. Hope that your mum is making good progress and that you are soon able to spend more time garden watching and dreaming. Take care.

Shirley said...

Hello everyone, thanks for all your comments :-)

Pauline, thank-you! Oh… I did read somewhere that the Comma moves around if the weather is favourable. It’s been a good summer so maybe that’s why you haven’t seen it. Good you’ve seen increases in some numbers though :-)

John, thank-you! Ah… we’ve had a good summer so perhaps the Comma just kept following the sunshine :-)

Sue, Ah… it’s always interesting to hear differences in species numbers in different parts of the country. We have had a good summer, weather wise and the most butterflies we’ve ever had. They visited earlier than last year too so we had a good August with lots of Peacocks and Red Admirals :-)

Anna, it was, I really couldn’t believe its timing. Thanks, that’s my favourite photo too – I didn’t even notice the web when I took the photo so it was a nice surprise when uploaded! Thanks, she is doing well although she is going backwards some days which is to be expected. Gardenwatching and dreaming would be just lovely just now but this vote on Thursday is seriously stressing me out (many, many other people too). Where ever we turn there is a leaflet, a banner, something on the radio or tv. Everyone is telling us how important our vote is – and we don’t know that? Guessing the rest of the UK is fed up hearing about it too. I’d like to say let’s fast forward to next week but who knows what we and the rest of the UK will be facing then :-(