Midsummer Goings On

Visiting Red Admiral

Dear Readers, by the time you read this it will be the summer solstice, the shortest night of the year, and a day much celebrated all over the world as the very height of summer. Here in East Finchley it’s forecast to be bright and sunny, and certainly this red admiral had got the message. It looks new-minted, and although many butterflies migrate north this one looks so fresh that I suspect it’s actually hatched out recently – females migrate north, lay their eggs and the caterpillars emerge as butterflies from late June/early July, so this one is a little early. It could also have hibernated over the winter. Male red admirals are territorial and fly ‘laps’ of their territories, fighting off other males and courting any passing females. Only a male holding a territory will have a chance to mate, so I shall keep an eye open to see if this butterfly is hanging around, or just passing through.

In other news, the wood pigeons are extremely crochety, and I had plenty of opportunity to observe their dominance behaviour when two of them landed on the same seed feeder, which I hadn’t yet topped up.

First we have the ‘peering round the tube’ behaviour as the birds attempt to size one another up.



Then we have the ‘how tall are you?’ phase when both birds stiffen and stand on their tippy toes to try to make themselves look bigger.

Then we have the ‘do I dare try and actually feed’ stage, when each bird gingerly lowers its head, anticipating a nasty peck to the cranium.


And then, sad to say, we have a nasty bout of wing snapping and general nonsense, until one of the birds gives up, only to be replaced by another who has been waiting in the wings (ahem) to try his or her luck.

Dear oh dear. Still, I have noticed that everyone seems to get fed in the end, and no one is seriously the worst for wear. After an hour or so of this nonsense the wood pigeons head off for a snooze, to be followed by the much more peaceable collared doves, and finally the goldfinches and house sparrows (who both use a feeder with no tray that the pigeons can’t perch on).

And at the front of the house the lavender has reached peak floral display…

The candytuft, Mexican fleabane and Delosperma is all in full flower (you might remember the latter as Mesembryanthemum back in the day)

And Some Animal has done a rather pungent poo on the windowsill, much to my surprise – it doesn’t look like any of the usual suspects, and although someone has been digging in the windowboxes, it doesn’t look like squirrel poo. Oh well. Any ideas, pop them in the comments (and apologies if you’re just having your breakfast). At least the greenbottles are happy.

4 thoughts on “Midsummer Goings On

  1. Anne

    A fascinating post all round – I enjoy your commentary on the behaviour of the wood pigeons. The flowers look very cheerful too.

  2. Liz Norbury

    I love the antics of the wood pigeons, and what a lovely photo of the Red Admiral. I had no idea that Mesembryanthemum now has the much less attractive name of Delosperma! Here in Cornwall, a popular nickname for it is Sally me ansum – “me ansum” being a term of endearment around these parts.


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