Today was a good day even though I was working. I love all wildlife and over the last few years I have discovered butterflies, almost to the point of becoming obsessed with finding new patches for butterflies in my locality last year. Seeing Purple Emperors, White Admirals, Silver Washed Fritallaries and Black Hairstreak (some of Northants specialities) brought along a whole new understanding of my surroundings.....and is just one more thing to learn and discover about the amazing natural world in which we live. I find it incredible to learn all the stories being told right under our noses, and most people have no idea what goes on. Mention Purple Emperor around here to most people and they will give you a blank look, having no clue that at certain times of the year a small wood just up the road becomes a Mecca for butterfly enthusiasts....and also have no idea what kind of a spectacle they are missing. I think one of the things that rules me out of becoming a hardcore bird lister is the fact that I admire and take pleasure in all aspects of the wild world and not just the rare or unusual. One example is the Coues Arctic Redpoll twitch mentioned in a previous posting. Lots of people staring into empty trees hoping that the bird will magic itself out of no where when everyone has seen the whole flock disappear over the horizon and not return and yet just feet behind them was a tree with about 7 Siskin doing acrobats along the branches. While I was recording a clip of a male bird (see previous post for vid) a twitcher approached excitedly asking if I had the Redpoll and when I explained that I was watching the amazing display put on by these cracking little birds he shrugged his shoulders, grunted, and then returned preferring to admire the empty trees again. Also during this twitch I overheard a chap talking about the Helm Guide to Gulls (superb reading), so I thought I'd have a chat as Gulls is one of my passions too. His answer shocked me as he referred to Gulls as a "f*~'#ng nightmare, I hate them. The only one worth bothering with is a Ross's Gull!", it quickly became clear that the only reason he had this Helm Guide was so he could twitch birds - he had no interest at all in the story they can tell or in identifying and understanding the commoner Gulls. I really do find this attitude unbelievable, and I try to live by the motto a 'good view of a common bird (or lizard, snake, butterfly, moth etc etc) is far better than a bad view of a rare one'.
Anyway I'm straying from the point somewhat. What I came on here to say was that I managed to see my first butterflies of the year today, and it really cheered me up too. A single Brimstone flew over Buckingham Road in Bletchley (just west of the 3 Trees Pub) and another flying across the road in the wooded section just north of Woburn Safari Park. At last it looks like the winters finally drawing to an end, and with the reports coming in thick and fast of Chiffchaffs and Sandmartins in the south of the UK things are hotting up nicely. Bring on the most exciting time of the year - Spring! I can't wait!!