We have another poem of the week. We plan in future to put these out on Mondays and have enough to see us well into May but please keep your contributions coming in.
Holly blue: This little piece of flying sky is a butterfly of woods, hedgerows and gardens. The female has broad black borders to the wings, while those of the male are clear blue and resemble the common blue. It can be distinguished by the silver with small black spots undersides of the wings whereas the common blue has the underside brown with black and orange spotting. More useful is that the holly blue, being a butterfly of trees and bushes, flies much higher than the common blue that is a butterfly of meadows and stays close to the ground – usually! The holly blue is unusual in having two generations a year where the caterpillars of each generation have different food plants. The adults flying now, in the Spring, have emerged from pupae that have overwintered. After mating the females lay eggs on the flower buds of holly. The caterpillars will eat the flower buds and such damage can be seen. After two or three weeks as a pupa hidden in leaf litter the adults emerge. This generation emerges in July and lays eggs in the flower buds of ivy. It is the pupae from these caterpillars that will over winter. This butterfly should, really, be called the holly and the ivy blue!
Photos Robert Maxwell Wood
Large red damselflies are first of our damsels/dragons to emerge in spring. The male latches on to the female by holding on to her neck with claspers while she searches the pond for egg-laying sites.
Orange tip: This butterfly is a delightful harbinger of spring. It over winters as a pupa on dead low growing vegetation near its favoured food plants. These are Lady’s smock – a pale pink flower of damp meadows and roadside verges or the white flowered weed, Garlic mustard, found in all sorts of disturbed ground. The males with their orange tips are conspicuous and travel long distances seeking out the females which do not have the orange tips but do have the same green-seeming network on the underside of the hind wings. When the butterflies roost, this green netted underwing provides excellent camouflage. Females will often be found near suitable egg laying sites where the food plants are relatively large, and in unshaded, isolated but sheltered sites. It has only one generation each year so the pupa formed in June will hibernate until the following spring.
John Ball Sean Pritchard Peter Bright
For those of a more literary bent Chris Harris is proposing to post a poem of the week and is challenging Westbury residents to compose a verse or two reflecting our current situation. Chris is one of our more prolific poets as anyone who has walked past her cottage on Old Ditch will have noticed, and to launch the scheme is offering one of her own recent creations ‘Not daffodils’ (see attached) Those wishing to take up the challenge should send their contributions to Chrisharris5500@gmail.com
The adults of Large and Small Whites are pests of our domestic Brassicas. The large white caterpillars are black and yellow and easily visible and very destructive. They are protected from predation by birds by the warning colours and a nasty taste. The small white caterpillars are green and lie along the veins and are very inconspicuous. The third of this trio the Green-veined White is not a pest of our vegetable patch cabbages but lays its eggs on a variety of wild Brassicas like garlic mustard. See if you can sort out which is which?
Peacock: The adults that are seen in this week went into hibernation last August/September/October in our garages, woodsheds, log piles. Last autumn they fed avidly on the nectar of flowers like Buddleia and Michaelmas daisy to build up the fat stores they need to see them through to the spring. They can be seen on the wing at anytime through the winter if there is a warm spell after which they return to hibernation. They come out of hibernation at the end of March or beginning of April. The males currently are seeking out suitable territories perhaps near suitable large clumps of nettle that are sheltered but in full sunshine that are favoured egg laying sites. Passing females are pursued and mated with. Eggs will be laid from late April through into May.
Peter Bright photo
Whatever the season, a country walk is a great way to get out and about.
Head for the Westbury-sub-Mendip Community Shop and pick up one of the Westbury Walks leaflets – they’re only 50p. All of the walks start and end at The Cross, so you can get started as soon as you leave the shop.
Each of the 20 walks is described in detail, with clear directions, maps and useful information plus an indication of how long each walk takes. They vary in length, some only a mile or two, others much longer, as you will see from the list below.
If you want to take supplies with you, the shop sells a variety of sandwiches, pies and drinks. Or you could go to The Westbury Inn for a post-walk cider.
|WESTBURY WALKS||Distance in miles|
|1||Millway, Broadway Hill||3|
|3||Ebbor Gorge, Wookey Hole, Wattles Hill, Easton||7.6|
|4||Priddy Veal Lane||5.6|
|7||Rodney Stoke & Draycott Loop||5.8|
|9||Priddy Nine Barrows||9|
|11||Ebbor Gorge, Rookham, Milton Hill, Wookey Hole, Easton||9.6|
|13||Coxton End Lane||5.4|
|14||Rodney Stoke & Stoke Woods||6.3|
|17||Wells & back||11.3|
|18||Barrow Wood Land & the River Axe||6.6|
|20||Wedmore & back||11.2|