Last Friday evening Team Sausage received a distress call from our friend Wendy. She has been raising Painted Lady Butterflies recently and had her last 2 fully fledged charges ready to be released into the wild.
Unfortunately our friend was on crutches nursing a badly sprained ankle and was unable to do much more than hobble to the end of her road. We were more than happy to meet her on Saturday morning and start our new division, Team Sausage: Butterfly Rescue!
With watches synchronized, hand over was achieved promptly, butterflies exchanged for a bottle of medicinal wine and a route plotted to Cranford Park.
We decided to release the Ladies in the Orchard, where there were plenty of flowering thistles and other plants.
First out was Elaine, mostly due to the fact that she was at the top of the tank and therefore presented the easiest opportunity to set her free. We were expecting a wild fluttering and barely audible butterfly cries of “Free, free at last”.
We had neither! Clearly this Lady was not for fluttering, in fact she seemed most reticent to leave the comfy confines of the butterfly boudoir Wendy had made.
Some gentle coaxing and finger teasing eventually saw her climb aboard a friendly digit and we allowed her some time to feel the air on her wings and sniff the nearby nectar:
The mission was proving less straightforward then we imagined however. The tempting offers we made of various foliage and flowers saw neither flutter or interest. Soft coaxing whispers and promises of adventures among the leaves also had no affect.
Eventually she finally waved her colourful wings and hit the air, making straight for ground level and the grass!
We waited a while, like protective parents, to see if she would make for a safer environment than the ground. It would have been awful if her first few moments of release saw her fall prey to a passing bird.
After several minutes of watching her make no sign at all of wanting to fly we picked her up again and tried to ease her onto some leaves and flowers. We were guessing she was very tired from recently hatching and with the day not blessed with the scorching, energy giving sun of recent days perhaps the cool air was slowing her progress.
We carefully placed her high up on some greenery and left her to familiarize with her new surroundings.
Susan was an altogether different experience. Like Elaine she was very comfy in the tank and needed a little coaxing out.
However, once acclimatised to the air and freedom she was off into a nearby Maple tree, moving from branch to branch before resting very high up, holding her wings open.
Elaine was still where we left her and had not moved at all. Still looking like a brightly wrapped snack for a predator we decided to take her on hand again and make for the enclosed orchard where there were plenty of thistles and blackberry bushes to hide among.
At one stage we looked as if we were taking our pet butterfly for a walk. Elaine was so relaxed on the hand.
It was as if the thistles and blackberries were what she really wanted though, as soon as we offered a hand over the wire and into the orchard she was off. We lost sight fairly quickly as she made for cover under the leaves.
Mission accomplished finally, with both Painted Ladies free and not eaten while in our care.
The park was fairly quiet though, Green Woodpeckers were calling but not seen and the Kestrel family from my last post was heard and seen overhead on both Saturday and Sunday.
We did see this interesting fungi in the woodland area:
And although we loitered, no-one asked us to leave:
We returned on Sunday with friends and indulged in some blackberry picking. The results (care of my lovely wife) was a zingy yet light blackberry and custard tart! Picked on Sunday, made on Monday, finished by Tuesday!
Also seen on the Sunday were a family of Linnets by the headland, more Green Woodpeckers, the Kestrel family and a few Common Blue butterflies.