Local patch reporter – Helen Miller: Tortoiseshell butterfly

Local Patch Reporter Helen Miller reports on the signs of spring. 

Tortoiseshell butterfly.

Local Patch Reporter Helen Miller reports on the signs of spring. 

Species: Tortoiseshell butterfly 

Location: Letchworth Garden City

Date: 9 March 2014 

Today was a lovely day – sunny with a gentle breeze and the warmest day of the year so far (17 ºC on my thermometer at home).

To celebrate I went for a stroll round part of the Letchworth Garden City Greenway path from the Willian Arboretum west to the A505.

As I walked through the arboretum I saw long-tailed tits, robins, blue tits, great-tits, chaffinches, magpies and crows.

They all seemed to be busy defending territories or looking for food, one blue-tit in particular spent a few minutes looking for insect grubs on a tree branch.

There was also a green woodpecker in the vicinity. I didn't see it but I heard their distinctive ‘yaffling’ call a couple of times.

As well as the birds getting out and about with breeding and feeding in mind, the trees are also coming into bud – a lot of them had new leaves sprouting and the beautiful, white flowers were out on the Blackthorn bushes.

I spotted celandines, speedwell and daisies and sticky buds on the horse chestnut trees as well as hazel catkins.

Insects too were making the most of the lovely weather. I saw a brimstone butterfly and a whole host of tortoiseshells.

A couple were sunning themselves by the side of the path as it went round the edge of a field.

Towards the end of the walk I heard the green woodpecker again and looking up was just in time to see it land on a tree briefly before dropping down into a field out of sight, scaring a crow out of the tree as it did so.

It was lovely being able to get out and about in the sunshine and see so much wildlife with relatively little effort.

Heading home for a cup of tea and a piece of cake I was already trying to decide where to go next week.


Read more exciting nature blogs by BBC Wildlife local patch reporters

BBC Wildlife wanted to find a new way to share some of our readers’ natural-history diaries with other wildlife enthusiasts, and Local Patch Reporters was born. 

Our 20 Local Patch Reporters for 2014 are aged from 10 to 64 and live from Dorset in the south to Shetland in the north.

Throughout this year they will be exploring and reporting on nature in their neighbourhood via online blogs.

Helen Miller is a Local Patch Reporter from Hertfordshire. 

Helen’s nature patch: Hitchin and Letchworth Garden City

“I have recently moved to this area and enjoy observing wildlife. I also sketch and paint species and the countryside,” she says. 

Helen’s wildlife aims for 2014: Spot the little egret that has been seen on the River Hiz and barn owls in the fields around Pirton. I’d also like to find common spotted orchids and wild clematis on the Chiltern Hills.

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