Sun brings out first of the season’s butterflies

The orange tip is one of the first butterflies on the wing in springtime.
The orange tip is one of the first butterflies on the wing in springtime.

I’m just back from a week in the Highlands and what a difference seven days makes in our crazy climate. When I left it was snowing and when I got back it was 23 degrees!

In the garden, the daffodils were going over to be replaced by the tulips which are just coming to their best.

A quick look in the garden pond confirmed the presence of recently hatched tadpoles – not very active yet, just hanging around in the vegetation, building up body mass ready to take on the various predators no doubt lurking in the hidden depths.

The garden birds seem to have been taking advantage of my absence. With nobody to disturb them, a pair of blue tits have moved into one of my nest boxes and are frantically flying in with beakfulls of moss and dried grass.

Overhead the already present swallows and martins have been joined by their faster chums the swifts – always the last to arrive and the first to leave.

Behind my house in an adjacent stubble field, a pair of lapwings has taken up residence and can be heard calling at all times of the day and night. It is many years since these declining birds have attempted to nest here and with the quick turnaround in field use nowadays, I was concerned about their chances. However, I met the landowner and he told me that the field was going to be set-aside this year, so the birds have a fighting chance of rearing some chicks.

On my first venture up the riverside since my return, I was struck by the changes which had taken place there as well. Things were much greener and the birds were more numerous. A week previous willow warbler and chiffchaff were the only warbler species around, but by Sunday they were joined by blackcap and garden warbler. Another migrant which I saw for the first time was the diminutive spotted flycatcher. It is a great time for bird watching at the moment, as most species are singing and are easily visible. Once the leaves open out on the trees, life for the ornithologist will be much more challenging.

In the sunshine, the first of the season’s butterflies were out as well. Several peacocks were on the wing as well as a handful of orange tips – the males easy to identify as they are mostly white with orange wing tips.

Yes it’s a great time of the year here in the Borders for getting out and enjoying our varied wildlife. If you see anything interesting or unusual, drop me an e-mail – a photo too if you like, to corbie@homecall.co.uk