Friday, 21 May 2010

The First Butterflies of the Season

Late spring Early Summer

This time of year brings out the new and fresh first butterflies of the season. That is, not counting, the battered individuals of some species, that hibernate as adults through the winter.Most species make it through the winter as eggs, caterpillars or chrysalises - and of course I mean Ovum, Larva, and Pupa!

So here are some of my shots from this year, both from the garden and the nearby Nature Rserve at Hof ter Saksen.

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines)

Who's Looking at You, Kid?

This one is perching on Honesty (Luneria annua) in the garden. This butterfly is only around in the spring and this is only the second time I've had one in the garden. It's a female too as it doesn't have the characteristic orange wing tips of the male. In any case the males are notoriously hard to photograph as they spend most of their time patrolling for females. I've had them bump into my chest when walking along trails!

Green-veined White (Pieris napi)


This is also perching on Honesty (Luneria annua) in the garden. These whites can easily n=be mistaken for Small and Large Whites but the strong veining on the underside of the wings is characteristic.

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)




These are amongst the first butterflies around here and can often be the last too as they sometimes have three generations in a summer. When fresh the fiery copper colour is really striking and catches the light. I don't know what it was doing on a Dandelion clock!

Brown Argus (Aricia agestis)




The Brown Argus is actually a member of the family of Blues (Lycidae) and this species can easily be confused with the female of the Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus). I saw no Blues at all on this day so I'm pretty confident it's a Brown Argus.

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)


This is the typical Chocolate and Cream livery of the Speckled Wood in the north of Europe. In the south it's more Orange with yellow markings.

Small White (Pieris rapae)



One of most common butterflies and often confused with the Large White. Obviously you are not to call it a Cabbage White! Please.

Comma (Polygonia c-album)


Easily recognised by the raggedy shape of it's wings.

Peacock (Inachis io)


Very often they are early harbinger of spring as they hibernate as adults (Imago) through the winter. The eye-spots on the wing make it easily recognisable though I read that a recent survey in the UK found that 70% of people didn't know it's name. Shocking!

Holly Blue (Celestrina argiolus)


This one is seen here perched on Holly and trying to feed on the tiny Holly flowers which are barely open. This species is usually the first of the Blues to be seen in spring

Friday, 14 May 2010

Con Dem Nation

3D Twin Blues
Vote Liberal get Conservative

How the Liberals gave up principles and took power instead. Ha bloody ha. Both of them in fact took power-sharing to avoid the sack. Cameron would surely have been deposed if a Lib/Lab coalition was formed and Clegg too as the Liberals actually got less of a return than 2005. But the temptation of power was too much for any ideology to stand up too.

I was pleased the Lib/Lab Coalition came to nothing. The arithmetic didn't work. Can anyone at all tell me what is meant  by 'progressive'. All the parties seem keen on stressing how 'progressive' they are without explaining.

I'm fairly shocked that the Liberals got into power with the Conservatives. Apparently 4 out of 5 Liberal voters would have voted Labour otherwise. They must be happy.

I think this coalition will fail shortly and another election will be called. All those disaffected (and disenfranchised) Liberals will return from whence they came and the Liberal party itself won't be seen for another three generations. This is irrespective of a change in the electoral system.


The idea of a fixed term for government is lamentable. This will bring US style election campaigns that run over years. In any case two mechanisms already exist for terminating a government. Firstly a Dissolution Bill brought by the Government itself. This must have at least 51% of the vote. This coalition wants to change this to 55%. This is designed so that should the Liberals become disaffected with the coalition they could join the opposition on this vote and bring down the Government. The Tories have 47% on their own and 53% with the Liberals which is why the want to raise the threshold to 55% in this thoroughly despicable and non-democratic way. The second way to dissolve parliament is for the Opposition to table a vote of no-confidence and for this to acquire a 51% majority.

For this coalition to seek a fixed term in these ways is despicable.


Meanwhile the Labour Party can watch the fun unfold as they tear each other apart and ruin the country at the same time. The 'Country' what a quaint and old-fashioned idea that is. Who gives a toss about being British or even English these days.

Plenty of time for the Labour Party to find a new leader and I don't think this has to be rushed into. I'm sure they can find some public schoolboy, Oxbridge graduate, white, of course, to compete with the pair of toffs now incumbent.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Red Flag flags

So it stays Brown, for now ...

I stayed up all night on election night as usual. Labour lost as expected but the Conservatives didn't get past the winning post and the Liberal Democrats didn't do as well as forecast. Now it's all down to horse-trading. I can't see the Tories giving PR the go-ahead and I can't see them getting into bed with the LibDems. So possibly a Lib/Lab coalition or a Conservative minority government and another election in the short term.

It was a bad night for Labour but nowhere near as dispiriting as the elections of '83 or '92. No real surprises in the losses and gains but some amusement at Brighton Pavilion turning out Green. The only surprise is that they didn't go Pink.


Electoral Reform in the shape of Proportional Representation will inevitably change the political landscape dramatically and will probably lead to a situation where we will never again have an overall majority and will have to suffer the kind of horse-trading common in many European governments. Here in Belgium these coalitions are always breaking up and they are forever having elections and long periods without a National Government at all. Who would want that? PR may also see the rise of extremist parties being represented in the house and consequently growing in stature.

Personally I think that if the Labour Party's rise in the early 20C could be done under the 'first past the post' system then a third party should be able to manage it in the 21C. All they need is an ideology that differentiates them from the alternative parties and that appeals to the electorate.

Democracy; it's rubbish isn't it?