It’s now the turn of the rosebay willowherb to flower. The midsummer deep greens along roadsides verges are punctuated by soft pastel-pink washes of this beautiful common plant. It does well on recently burned land, spreading quickly over large areas, and creating a wonderful splash of delicate colour. Greater willowherb is also beginning to show a few flowers, but even in its full glory, never seems to have the dramatic effect of it’s earlier-flowering cousin.
The real stars at the moment are the thousands of buddleia flowers, which seem to have appeared without notice. The recent good weather has also increased the number of butterflies, and even though there are not nearly as many as there should be, it’s good to see them feeding in reasonable numbers on the delicate lilac flowers. Newly hatched red admirals, peacocks, the odd comma, and more tortoiseshells than in recent years look splendid, but after last year’s amazing painted lady influx, I have seen none so far this year. There are also bees on many of the blooms, taking advantage of this annual food.
We’re getting to the time of year when the vegetation is dense, and even though most small birds seem to have produced more young this year, they are difficult to see. Adults of many species are beginning their annual moult, and the parent blue tits from our nest box still frequent the garden feeder, but are beginning to loose their bright summer plumage and look distinctly ragged. The garden robin too is noticeably less red, and will soon begin to shed feathers. Small birds like these will take about a month to completely replace their feathers, and will try to stay out of sight of predators during this period when their ability to fly is diminished.