Buddy and I walked into Warwick on Sunday morning to do some food shopping and, on my way, I noticed the first hawthorn leaves were appearing. These are always a good sign that the seasons are on the turn.
The sun was out, and I was looking into every garden, peering at the sheltered spots, to see if any butterflies were on the wing, but I didn’t see any.
The spring-like weather meant I could sit outside and have my lunch and I’m glad I did as I immediately spotted a peacock butterfly flying down the towpath. It crossed over the water when it reached the boat and flew towards people on the opposite bank. I saw he was pointing something out to his partner, so I asked if they had seen the peacock. They looked at me as if I was mad and said they were ducks.
Peacock butterfly taken by Karen near Stratford in 2015
It’s very difficult to tell the genders apart on peacock butterflies, but you can see why their eyes gave them their name. Males tend to be smaller than the females, but you have to study them anatomically to be sure. The behaviour will also give the gender away as males set up and patrol an area waiting for passing females to enter their territory.
Although I have been interested in butterflies since I was a teenager we only started recording our first sightings in the blog since we moved on board.
Before I finished lunch, I was lucky enough to spot a male brimstone, also flying down the towpath. Like peacocks, they hibernate as adults over the winter and are a sure sign that spring is on its way when you see them flying around.
Male brimstone I saw on the Grand Union at Stockton two years ago
The males are a really bright yellow and the females a much paler greenish-lemon colour.
Female seen by Karen on the Stratford canal in 2015
The brimstone always rests with its wings closed so if you see a picture with outstretched wings it’s either a mounted dead specimen or someone has taken a lucky shot in flight or about to take flight.
The weather clouded over soon after lunch so that was the end of the excitement for the day. I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to buy any fruit during the morning shop, so it was back to Warwick for a second time. It meant I had to watch the rugby on catch up but that didn’t matter as I hadn’t seen or heard the result beforehand.
Oh, and just to prove to Karen that I wasn’t just watching rugby whilst she was away port drinking for the weekend, here are the solar lights I fixed at the front of the boat on Sunday morning.