|Not the best photo, but then the butterfly was up a tree.|
On Saturday afternoon, some of our friends were at weddings, others sitting in their in their summer gardens. But Nigel, Carenza and I were traipsing round a nearby wood, carrying a bag of poo. Or rather I was. Carrying, that is. And before you ask, it was horse poo.
We were on a butterfly safari. Why the poo? Because, although we appreciate all butterflies, we were after big game – the purple emperor. And the purple emperor lives in the treetops, only dropping to earth for especially tasty morsels like carrion or poo.
We walked to a bench in the wood, laid out an enticing sample and waited. We saw a red admiral, ringlets, meadow browns, hedge browns. And a man, lurking in the bushes.
After a while, we strolled on and laid out another poo picnic. This time, we saw a small tortoiseshell, a green fritillary, two different kinds of skipper and a marbled white. And that man, lurking in the bushes again. Like me, he had binoculars round his neck.
“Are you, um, looking for wildlife?”
“Yes. I’m here for white admirals, but I haven’t seen any yet.”
So there were white admirals about were there? Not quite as magnificent as the purple emperor, but still a fabulous creature.
After an hour, all the poo was gone.
In a slightly rubbish way, we decided to give up and go home.
And there, above our heads, perched halfway up a hornbeam, was a white admiral. For some time we watched it chasing other butterflies out of its territory, then settling again, on guard. This spirited, rare butterfly was very nearly what we had come for.
But more than that. If I ever get so old that I don’t fancy taking a chance on carrying a steamy bag of poo round a wood on a hot day, the end will be nigh. It will mean I’ve grown up, and I so don’t want to do that.