Wednesday, 4 September 2013

50th post - Day trip to France and other bits and bobs

September is upon us, but I will probably still be blogging about August for another few months! Maybe it will encourage the weather to stay as lovely as it has been for a bit longer!

Garden pebble on our wall the evening of the 11th
On Tuesday 13th August, we (my mum, auntie, cousin and I) had planned a day trip to France. We used to go a fair bit when we were younger, with my other cousin too, and thought it would be nice to have a little explore! Our ferry was at 9.25 so we were on French shores just before midday their time. My auntie drove us down to Montreuil which is a walled town with cobbled streets and magnificent ramparts. We had lunch which consisted of wine and an omelette in a little cafe before exploring this quaint little place.

We came across this brilliant buddleia! 
How many butterflies can you count?

....and in this one

These were the beautiful views seen from the ramparts.

This area was alive with colourful wild flowers which attracted an abundance of butterflies and bees!

Is this wild carrot?

The first brown argus I'd ever seen!

Brown argus with the sun shining on it

While I was admiring this little gem, mum declared she had seen a swallowtail! I rushed over and it was settled on a dead plant on the edge of the wall. I crouched down ever so slowly and with only my 18-55mm lens on my camera tried to edge closer for a photo. I was just  ready to click when it disappeared. I wasn't prepared to jump the 20 foot drop in order to chase this magnificent butterfly. I was happy just to have seen one!

From montreuil we carried on driving towards Le Crotoy which is on the estuary of the river Somme. We parked, had a stroll, bought an ice cream and wandered a while longer.

An expanse of water the other side of the wall revealed many gulls, a few grebes and this shag opening its wings, sunning itself.

In close proximity to Le Crotoy we had seen signs to Le Parc du Marquenterre and found it fairly easily. We weren't too sure what it would be like, and when we got there we found it was more like a french version of the wildfowl and wetlands trust reserves we have in our country - i.e. you pay to get in and can't enter after a certain time. That will be a day trip in the future then. After this little detour we had to head back to Calais to catch our ferry home, but we got stuck in a lot of traffic and missed our allotted ferry. We also nearly ran out of petrol so more delay, but luckily when we arrived at the port the woman at the kiosk type thing happily let us board the next one. Not such a disaster after all! An enjoyable day indeed!

Back to British soil...
I have been volunteering quite a bit more the last few weeks. I heard a "plop" whilst out water vole monitoring and got excited thinking it was a fury critter. However I noticed this lovely common frog and realised it was the culprit of the plop!

Common frog

The first small copper I had seen this year.

Barge sails in the background

On Sunday 18th, mum and I drove to Tyland Barn which is where the head office is for Kent Wildlife Trust. It is more of an educational reserve, with a miniature meadow, wood piles, insect hotels and a pond. We saw good numbers of butterflies, hoverflies and some little micro-moths too.  

Female common blue

My first views of a chalkhill blue

Pyrausta purpuralis blends in beautifully with the wild marjoram


2 male common blues sharing this pretty marjoram

Chalkhill blue practically doing the splits between flowers

I had work in the evening but we had time to stop off at Oare Marshes briefly to see if we could find any clouded yellows. Mum hadn't seen one before so I was quite eager to spot one or two. No luck, then in the distance I spotted one, almost like a large buttercup had been swept off it's stalk and just carried on floating in the gentle breeze.

Once home I popped out to see how the caterpillars were getting on with our kale. They had certainly munched through a fair amount of it. I couldn't see any chrysalises from the earlier batch of eggs. Do they trundle off to find a branch nearby, a little more concealed?! Or did they all just get eaten by some bird or other predator?

Large white caterpillar

Younger batch of L white caterpillars

More garden butterflies and moths....

Well camouflaged meadow brown (20/08)

Meadow brown (20/08)

Silver Y moth (20/08)

Garden carpet I think (21/08)

Green-veined white (22/08)

We had a much needed downpour of rain on Saturday 24th. I do love watching an almighty rainfall sitting inside, cosy and warm. Made me look forward to autumn and winter! A very silly thing to suggest I'm sure, but that is one of the aspects that I love about our country - the seasons! Each has something unique and wonderful to bring. Summer brings butterflies and bees and we celebrate it with Pimms and beer. Then autumn welcomes dew and birds heading back here for winter, crossing the paths of those returning to sunnier climes to avoid our cold spells ahead. Winter... the ducks and geese and other watery birds arrive upon our shores. Hoare frosts and snowy trees make for the perfect winter wonderland photos. Then spring again and all the birds are singing their songs and showing off, ready to start the breeding season once more. Some people say they wish it was summer all the time. That would just be plain boring though! You would never appreciate it! Maybe talk of autumn is a little premature, maybe we will see a bit more sunshine and encounter an Indian summer.


  1. Really liking the images, the one that caught my eye and made me wonder what was going on was the hay bales with sailing masts in the background.
    Not sure this weather will last long (Friday looks like an indoor day),so I hope you are still blogging about August :)

    1. Thanks Douglas! Yes the photo you mentioned does seem a bit bizarre if you don't know the area!

  2. Really enjoyed all the wonderful butterfly pics and France looked lovely (great sepia pic). I agree about the seasons, wouldn't like to live somewhere that didn't have them, and have blogged about that exact same subject this week. Change is in the air and Autumn around the corner, but so far Sept has been lovely here.

    1. Thank you CT :) I have been so slack with my blog reading and commenting but will get around to it as soon as I can! I do appreciate you visiting and commenting :)

  3. Great pics as always Lou though it is a real shame you missed out on capturing a Swallowtail (I've yet to see one let alone photograph one!), though those lovely Chalkhill Blues must be some compensation at least :-) I am also looking forward to autumn and it will be interesting to see what it will bring this year :-)

    1. Thanks David, yes the chalkhills are quite something! I also saw a holly blue the other day which was another nice treat! I too wonder what our autumn will turn out like considering our fabulously warm summer!

  4. Beautiful images Lou, the butterflies are fabulous-I love the light you get in the close ups. Do you do anything special-is it the camera or the setting maybe?

    1. Thank you Suzie :) I use a tele-macro lens which allows a long zoom but also permits one to get within a metre to take a close up. Great for me because I can't afford a separate macro lens. I set the aperture to f8 for most things but if it is quite light then you can up the f number to f16 to get a greater depth of field and have more of the subject in focus. I think that's right anyway! I've been getting some handy tips from one of my volunteer friends :)

    2. Thanks for sharing that info with me-your photos are stunning anyway, but I'll give this a go and see what happens to mine!

  5. I've never seen a Brown Argus either. Fabulous pictures. \My sympathies with the Swallowtail. Never seen one of those either!

    1. I hadn't before this trip and now I have been seeing them all over the place! One even came and visited my garden! I couldn't believe my eyes!!

  6. Such gorgeous pictures.
    Loved the photo of the two common blues .

    1. Thank you for your kind comment and for dropping by :)

  7. Beautiful photos and sounds a wonderful day out in France. Well done on the Swallowtail (I've never seen one!!) and sorry you didn't manage a photograph. Loved your description of the Clouded Yellow. I love all the different seasons too - so much to look forward to as each one begins :)

    1. Thank you Ragged Robin :) I do have a photo of one from my eastern European travels, maybe I should have included it in this post! They are so beautiful! Yesterday morning was particularly autumnal, with dewy spiders webs!

  8. wowza! Lots of wonderful photos here Lou :) - I love the wildflowers on your French trip, brown argus and swallowtail :o Lucky thing you!! Our seasons are beautifully diverse, I am excited for some fungi filled, autumnal walks through the wet and wild woodland. And earlier sunsets, and later sunrises!!

    Tom x

    1. Thanks Tom :) I tried convincing someone the other day about our seasons but they were completely convinced our seasons weren't that defined. I tried my utmost to fight our glorious seasons battle. To no avail I fear!