Saturday 6 July 2019

Eggs, more eggs and roe

We had been in the cottage for a few days before I noticed that, on one of the windows, an insect had laid some eggs. By the end of the week, I was checking several times a day to see if they would hatch. On the morning of our last full day, as I opened the curtains, there were lots of tiny caterpillars crawling every which way, and no doubt wondering where all the vegetation had gone. For some unknown reason, one caterpillar didn't make it out of its egg case.

We ventured to Keltneyburn Nature Reserve, and wandered through the wildflower meadow and around the overgrown pool which, even on a dull day, was alive with Large Red Damselflies. There were plenty of orchids too, but this one had us scratching our heads. It was definitely one we didn't know, but recourse to the internet could only narrow it down as far as a Butterfly-orchid. Whether it was Greater or Lesser we couldn't be certain, as the flowers need to be open so that the angle of the pollen sacs can be checked. Oh well, that'll be a job for someone else on a sunny day, then.

As we sauntered back through the meadow and its long grass stems, I spotted what at first I took to be a damaged seed head. Closer inspection revealed it to be a Bufftip moth, with its excellent birch twig impersonation. I couldn't immediately explain why it thought that a blade of grass was a better place to be, until I looked closer still. It was a female and she was egg-laying! Wow!

Now, the food plants for Bufftip caterpillars are mostly trees, so it really is a mystery why this one chose a meadow for her eggs. The nearest trees were several metres away, a long journey for little legs!

We then pootled up a track by a burn, until the urgent need for tea and cake overcame us. But not before we had seen this rather dapper beetle and a pair of Roe Deer grazing in a meadow.

No comments: