17.4.11 Garden Tiger caterpillar

After some correspondence with the Chairman of Butterfly Conservation NI, Ian Rippey, I went to Murlough yesterday (17-Apr) to try and find an Emperor Moth. It wasn’t hard! I saw thirteen of them but boy were they fast! Without a butterfly net I had no hope of catching one. Not that I minded – it was good enough to see them haring across the heather in search of a female (the females fly at dusk, the males in the daytime), free and wild. One whizzed right past me and I saw its bright orange wings but couldn’t get a photo of the magnificent eyespots that give it the rights to such an imperial name.

Thankfully, caterpillars are less inclined to zip around at sixty miles an hour, and so are much easier to photograph. The Garden Tiger, above, (or “woolly bear” for the kids out there) has got to be one of my many favourite caterpillars. It was accompanied, of course, by a huge Drinker moth caterpillar (squashed, sadly) and more Marsh Fritillary caterpillars.

The other treat that day was a kestrel, hovering above the heath and looking intently down for any small mammals. I didn’t see it catch anything. Plus, I saw what I think might be a reed bunting, skulking in some gorse bushes. Beautiful day for it too.

And of course a Small Tort popped up for good measure.

I’m off to America tomorrow so if I don’t get much Internet time I’ll report on the wildlife (hopefully including butterflies) and the weather (possibly including thunderstorms) when I get back. I am EXCITED!!!