Our visitors have arrived!

All summer I have been waiting for our visitors to arrive, but with all the rain and cold wind that we have been having, there was no chance, until a few days ago. That morning started off very misty and foggy, but by midday the sun was out and boy, it was hot! All of a sudden I noticed lots of colours flying round the garden, the butterflies had arrived!! As well as the butterflies, everywhere was buzzing with bees, my bee and butterfly border was in business at last. This red Admiral was unlucky, no nectar in the flowers on my T shirt!

Red Admiral

Brown Hawker Dragonfly

Can you see the Brown Hawker Dragonfly in the centre of the photo, my book tells me this is a male because of the blue spots on its abdomen. I felt really pleased to spot it amongst all the foliage, but wasn’t so sure when I read that it feeds on butterflies!


Gatekeepers are everywhere I look, some are only half size though which I have never noticed before, keep thinking that they must be something else, but Gatekeepers are the only butterfly which has 2 small white dots inside the black dot.

Jersey Tiger Moth

My husband noticed this splash of colour on the white buddleja, do you know what it is?

Jersey Tiger Moth

It’s a Jersey Tiger Moth, found in Europe, the Chanel Islands and the SW coast of England. We have only noticed these twice before in the 21 yrs that we have been here, so were thrilled to find this one.


The next day I found this one, might be the same one, but it had stayed overnight.

JT Moth

Today we have seen 3 at once so think they are quite happy here, hope they stay, they have such striking markings.


We are now inundated with Peacock butterflies. Usually I find them on the white buddleja which has grown very tall with all the rain, the flowers are huge on it and give off so much perfume. They usually attack all kinds of Little Peckers, but this year they got lucky and had a quiet peaceful time.  This morning I counted eight at one time, which I felt was a good number.


Also loads of commas in the front garden, this time on Verbena bonariensis as well as the buddleja.

Comma mark

Managed to get this view of the white mark on the underside which gives the Comma butterfly its name.


This clump of wild eupatorium in the fruit and veggie garden should really get pulled out, but I can’t do it, it is covered in bees of all description.


It has now formed a sizeable clump and every flower head has at least 5 bees on it, we need our bees and if they like it, then it stays!


Another group of flowers that is buzzing each time I pass are these Astilbes by the steps up onto the lawn by the back door. Masses of bees are making the most of the sunshine today, haven’t noticed them on astilbes before.

Painted Lady

Sorry about this image, this is as near as I could get to a Painted Lady. It kept feeding on the highest flowers and each time I tried to bend the branch over, it flew away, others co-operate but not this one. Will keep trying to get a better photo.


A Tortoiseshell butterfly, haven’t seen many of these so far this year, but hopefully there is time for more to arrive.

RSPB reserve

We decided to make the most of our few hours of sunshine and went to our nearest RSPB Reserve which has the highest number of different species of butterfly of all the RSPB reserves.

View to Chanel

This is the view to the coast. the water you can see is the English Chanel, next stop France. The reserve is managed specially for the bird, the Dartford Warbler. We could hear them all the time we were there, but unfortunately no sightings of them. The poster at the entrance of the reserve shows these beautiful birds.

Gorse and heather

Gorse and heather is everywhere, the Dartford Warblers live in the gorse bushes. Care must be taken in the summer, adders live here too.When we had our old dog, she obviously heard rustling in the bushes, stuck her nose in and got bitten , she was a very ill dog for 2 weeks but thankfully recovered. After that, she wouldn’t go near that gorse bush for a good 6 months, other gorse bushes were ok but not that particular one!


All the time we were walking round we could hear the sound of crickets, eventually one jumped onto the path in front of me, obviously wanted its photo taken, how co-operative!

Mystery butterfly

Now to my mystery butterfly. It has dark brown upper wings, very rapid flight, kept stopping on the path around us, very difficult to photograph, I’m afraid this is the best I could do when it landed on my foot! I have searched my butterfly book which shows the under wings of all the butterflies, but cannot decide which one it is. The nearest colouring is for various Grayling butterflies, but my book says…not found in Britain. This is where I need your help, does anyone know which one it is please?     While we were there we saw loads of Gatekeepers, Tortoiseshells and I think Small Skippers that were darting everywhere, a good hour was spent there, then back home to cool off !!

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16 Responses to Our visitors have arrived!

  1. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    Great to see your flutters have arrived! And very jealous you have so many of the larger specoes – this year has been poor for me in terms of Peacocks, Admirals etc.

    I think your unknown is a greyling, and they are found in britain – generally along the coast i.e. south, west, wales, NW, Norfolk but pretty much none up my way.

    Btw, I thought brown hawkers had amber wings – this is what I was told anyway and that’s what makes it so easy to ID them??
    Oh yes and I think your cricket is a grasshopper 🙂 as it happens I’ve just been having a discussion with some people on twitter about them! We have them in our lawn and they like to sit on the crocosmia leaves.

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks for all the identification Liz, I was obviously in too much of a hurry, normally I would have taken a couple of days to check everything! So glad that the butterflies have arrived at last, they make such a difference to the garden. Still haven’t seen our usual Silver Washed Fritillaries or Holly Blues or Ringlets yet but there might still be time.

  2. wellywoman says:

    Brilliant, Pauline. Butterflies have just started to appear in my garden in the last few weeks. That Jersey Tiger moth is beautiful, I’ve never seen one before. Really love your flowery top by the way.

    • Pauline says:

      WW, I’m spending too much time chasing round after butterflies and not getting enough work done! Hope the Jersey Tiger Moth stays, it is lovely and it really seems to like buddleja, not fussy what colour it is either. My top is slightly more green than the photo shows, the Red Admiral seemed to like it until it found it wasn’t getting any food!

  3. Christina says:

    Lots and lots of butterflies, Pauline and beautifully photographed. I too spent a lot of time earlier trying to get good pictures of them. You havemostly different species to the ones here but some are the same like the red admiral and peacock. It isn’t summer without the wildlife in the garden. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      You’ve hit the nail on the head Christina, it wouldn’t have been a proper summer without the butterflies flitting round the garden, it makes up for all our rain. There was great excitement when they arrived on the first really hot sunny day last week, we are still looking for a few varieties that we haven’t seen yet, hopefully they are on their way!

  4. Anna says:

    Oh what a splendid proliferation of flutterbies Pauline! I have noticed them come out in their numbers in the last week or so but we do not have quite the same variety as you do. I have still to see a Red Admiral this summer 🙁 That Jersey Tiger Moth is rather special. Here I was getting quite excited yesterday afternoon when I spotted two peacocks on one buddleja flower. I rushed in to get my camera but I’m sure that you can guess what happened by the time I got back out 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      I know the feeling Anna, so many times I’ve rushed to get my camera only to find the subject has gone! We are still waiting for Siler Washed Fritillaries, Ringlets and Holly Blues which we usually have at this time of year. The butterflies all bring so much extra colour and movement to the borders, I love it!!

  5. pbmgarden says:

    So fun to see your butterflies. Beautiful pictures.

    • Pauline says:

      I’m still chasing them round the garden PBM, trying to take more photos. There are still a few varieties that are normally here by now which we haven’t seen yet but hopefully there is still time.

  6. how lovely that the butterflies, moths and bees have finally had some decent weather in your part of the UK Pauline, I notice how quiet the garden goes when the weather is wet or too windy, you are very clever at taking photos of these flighty creatures I rarely manage to, thanks for sharing, Frances

    • Pauline says:

      Thank goodness Frances that the sunshine arrived when it did, a summer without bees and butterflies isn’t a summer! The weather is still mixed but with the increased temperatures the bees and butterflies seem happy to stay thank goodness. When photographing the butterflies I try never to let my shadow fall on them, even so, some are quite skittish, I use the macro lens which I use for my flowers so the camera is very close to them, I’m amazed they stay still enough!

  7. What a wonderful set of visitors you have! I am envious, and even more determined that my front garden will become a nectar bar.

    • Pauline says:

      Its great Janet that you want a nectar bar in your front garden! The garden here has always had lots of bees and butterflies but the plants were spread around the garden. When sorting out the front garden I decided to replant only with bee and butterfly plants and the difference has been amazing. I think both bees and butterflies like to hop from one plant to another close by and not have a distance to fly all the time. The rest of the garden seems to have just as many visitors but the front border is buzzing and fluttering all the time the sun shines! I will follow your progress with keen interest!!

  8. Hi Pauline, That Jersey Tiger Moth is so striking. I also really like the Peacock butterfly as well. I maybe have two or three types of butterflies that visit my garden and I would love to have more.

    • Pauline says:

      Jennifer, The Tiger Moth is a visitor from France, it doesn’t overwinter here so we are so excited when they arrive. Are you on the migration route of your fantastic Monarch butterflies, would love to have them visit, but they are such fussy eaters I believe,the caterpillars only eating milkweed, is that right? I have found here that to encourage the adult butterflies in the garden, you have to have the food that the caterpillars want to eat and put up with a few plants with holes in them!!

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