An Easter Walk in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolaria)

Dear Readers, after a few weeks of having a break from the cemetery, it was such a pleasure to be back on a sunny spring day with not a cloud overhead. I was pleased to see the garlic mustard coming into flower, and was keeping a keen eye open for orange-tip butterflies, who lay their eggs on the plant. Well, I didn’t see any, but I did see several citrus-coloured brimstone butterflies, whose caterpillars  feed on buckthorn. There is a view that the name ‘butterfly’ came from these  bright yellow beauties.

Photo One by Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Male brimstone butterfly in flight (Photo One)

I seemed to be scaring up butterflies at every step, like this peacock: red admirals, peacocks and the odd speckled wood were all warming themselves up on the paths. It wasn’t quite the swarms of lepidoptera that I remember from our walks in the Austrian Alps, but it wasn’t bad for East Finchley.

The Tibetan cherry tree is coming into flower, and very fine it is too.

This jay was a little less shy than usual…

But this green woodpecker was rather more reticent than of late…

And we saw the Official Cemetery Cat, who is very splendid…

And an unofficial cemetery visitor, who we’ve seen before, and who looks like a little panther.

But loveliest of all, against that clear blue sky, was the buzzard, peacefully riding the thermals and unharried by the crows for once. Maybe they’re all off on holiday.

Mustn’t it be lovely to fly like that! The closest thing that I can think of is swimming, which is something I haven’t done for way too long. Maybe I’ll find somewhere over the summer.

Oh, and the lesser celandine is still in flower….


….and there was this patch of pink sorrel close to the North Circular Road boundary. I hadn’t noticed it before, but no doubt it will soon be everywhere. All sorts of mysterious things grow in this rather ‘weedy’ area, including the mysterious salsify that I was so astonished by a few years ago. Although you can hardly hear yourself think for traffic noise, it is always full of surprises.

8 thoughts on “An Easter Walk in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

  1. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    I’ve had a few close encounters with butterflies recently. A Holly Blue while out walking with my daughter in Sheffield last week and an Orange Tip as we came off the beach just south of Harlech. There have been one or two of the usual suspects in and around our garden but nothing like those heady days in Switzerland. But then, it is still quite early in the year.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      It is! But I’ve never seen the abundance of butterflies in the UK that there are on the mountain paths in the Alps. Too much monoculture, too much spraying, too little tolerance for ‘weeds’ I fear….

  2. Fran & Bobby Freelove

    On our walk in the woods today we were lucky enough to see three orange tipped butterflies, as you say they love jack by the hedge and there is an abundance where we walk. We’ve also seen, although only odd ones, peacock, red admiral, brimstones, holly blue, speckled wood and small tortoiseshell, so we’ve been quite lucky. Not sure if you get it round your way but we were saying how much stitchwort there is this year, it looks lovely against the bluebells.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      I used to see stitchwort a lot in Dorset and Somerset, but I’ve never seen it in North London – it intrigues me how some plants seem to prefer certain areas. I’ve never seen fumitory here either, but it’s everywhere in Milborne St Andrew….

      1. K.E.S.

        Ah — I have clouds of stitchwort in my garden at the moment, on the next hill along in North London, so it doesn’t seem to mind city life.

  3. Japh

    Lovely photos and words as always, yes indeed don’t Celandines last a long time, I usually see the earliest just after New Year. Always pick the first one in my bank as always did for my Mum.


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