A tale of two rivers and winged lovers

The couplet of ringlets pictured last Saturday by the Ettrick Water
The couplet of ringlets pictured last Saturday by the Ettrick Water

It wasn’t as sunny as of late on Saturday, but the lovely warmth was still there, as I set out for a riverside ramble with Treacle the cockapoo in tow.

I had intended following the Ettrick upstream to its meeting with the Yarrow, then following the latter into Bowhill, crossing the suspension footbridge at Oakwood Mill and returning by the opposite bank of the Ettrick.

However, it was so warm that a prolonged section on the road held little appeal, so it was off with the shoes and socks when I reached the “meetings”and a refreshing paddle across the Yarrow, from where it was a short stroll to the footbridge.

Once on the other side, the path disappeared into a veritable jungle of long grass, sticky willies and other rank vegetation, and it wasn’t long before Treacle resembled a commando on manoeuvres.

Despite the tough going, this section of riverside haugh proved to be very interesting from a wildlife point of view.

It was full of butterflies, all of which were brown, with one exception. A common blue suddenly popped up and I took off after it with my camera at the ready.

It landed on a seed head and briefly opened its wings.

As I took its picture, a fly appeared from nowhere and settled on its wing. Now that’s a picture I bet nobody else has.

The tall flowers which were managing to out-compete the grasses included woundwort, meadowsweet, giant bellflower and spear thistle, but the most profuse was valerian, whose pale pink flower heads were attracting hundreds of hoverflies.

One plant which I did come across in a couple of locations was agrimony.

Quite uncommon, this tall, drooping plant has spikes of bright yellow five-petalled flowers, which are quite noticeable, even to the untrained eye.

Further down the river, on another grassy (but this time shorter) section, I managed another butterfly photographic scoop.

I noticed that a ringlet was having difficulty in flying, so I followed it until it settled in the vegetation.

No wonder it was having a problem – it was in mid copulation and was flying in tandem with its mate.

Despite being caught in an uncompromising position, the pair obligingly posed for a couple of snaps, before continuing on their way, in a most ungainly fashion.

This week I’m spoiled for choice as to what picture to use.

Anyway, while I decide, I’ll make a start in trying to rid Treacle of her burr-infested coat.

PS. Reader B.S. of Galashiels also had a humming bird hawkmoth in his garden on July 12.