Having spent a good proportion of my recent Patch time rummaging around the hedgerows of the Wirral Way looking for warblers to photograph I have got used to some of the other wildlife that shares the hawthorns with our summer migrants.
On nearly all my trips out I have seen Orange Tip butterflies. They are probably my favourite butterfly, just pipping the Small Copper to the top spot. So naturally I grabbed a few pictures of them as I was hunting warblers. Eventually this developed into a full blown project of it's own.
Over the past few weeks as the buds burst and green shoots emerged I have charted the life of the Orange Tips of the Wirral Way.
The males are stunning. Pure white wings dipped in brilliant orange at the tips, a slim body of dusted charcoal and an underwing of 70's style garish patterned wallpaper. A majestic insect. The first glimpse of one heralds the start of spring for Dee Birder.
They have a special relationship with another of my favourite signs of spring. The Cuckoo Flower.
I'm on my hands and knees to examine in minute detail the plants for these eggs. I'm in luck....
The location of the patch of flowers is easily remembered so I vow to return in a few days to see if any of the clutch of eggs have hatched and I can capture some images of the hungry caterpillars.
A few days pass and I see a few males patrolling the Wirral Way but no eggs have hatched. No new eggs have been laid either. Perserverence will be required, and it is not as if there is nothing else to see while out hunting caterpillars. I catch up with my first damselflies of 2011 in the shape of 2 Large Reds and an Azure. I see a damselfly project on the horizon....
Eventually I find a hatchling.
It's worth every step....