I thought a bit of beauty was in order after the ordeal of the slug (no, no; murder hasn’t been committed…yet!)

glowing hedges along Marshford lane

glowing, green-gold hedges along Marshford lane

Yesterday the sun was shining making the autumn colours glow in the hedges along Marshford lane, and on a twig of blackthorn we found an egg of the rare Brown Hairstreak butterfly.

brown hairstreak egg - I think it looks similar to a sea urchin shell

brown hairstreak egg - I think it looks similar to a sea urchin shell

These elusive butterflies are rarely seen as they fly high in the tree canopy, preferably around the tops of ash trees, feeding on aphid honeydew. They sometimes venture down to nectar on plants such as bramble, fleabane and hemp-agrimony.

brown hairstreak caterpillar

brown hairstreak caterpillar

Numbers are unfortunately declining steeply, largely because so many farmers trim their hedges every year.  Eggs are particularly vulnerable as the female lays her eggs on the new growth of blackthorn, the caterpillar’s food plant, which is removed during trimming.

brown hairstreak emerging

brown hairstreak emerging

A couple of years ago Robert (I forgot to mention that his other pets are caterpillars, which he breeds through to moths and butterflies – better than slugs – just) found a young brown hairstreak caterpillar which duly pupated.  He photographed the adult butterfly emerging, watched its wings expand, and then released it to fly quickly away to the tops of the trees.

ready to take off to the tree tops

ready to take off to the tree tops