Not great for butterflies

Last week I  was lucky with a pine marten, and some whales, and lots of other wildlife, but this year I haven’t had much luck with butterflies.  And butterflies haven’t had much luck either with the cold wet weather.

From memory, the only butterflies I have seen this year have been a very few peacocks, a very few orange tips, a very few holly blues, a few brimstones, a few speckled woods,  a few green-veined whites, a very few small whites, a few wood whites (yippee! – no complaints there), and, until the last 10 days or so, very little else.

I had hoped to add Duke of Burgundy to my UK list , having seen them in the Netherlands, but the perfect combination of an evening Cheltenham meeting coinciding with the flight period of this butterfly was ruined by the weather.

Before I headed up to Scotland I tried hard to see the local speciality, the black hairstreak, at Glapthorn Cow Pasture but was too early on my first visit and unsuccessful, along with about a dozen other hopefuls, on my second visit.  but I did see a few large skippers as recompense (rather scant recompense it seemed to me).

In Scotland, the sun shone some of the time and for a glorious sunny half an hour in east Fife I saw lots of common blues, lots of small heaths and a few glorious dark green fritillaries.  When the sun went out again they all disappeared and if you had walked that way just after the clouds came in you would have been completely unaware of the display that had been up for grabs a few minutes earlier.

Back in east Northants I drove to Wellingborough station on Wednesday morning and within Wellingborough a butterfly slowly flew off a roundabout as I circled it.  It was a grey day and the butterfly was dark and seemed reluctant to take to the air – almost as though it knew it was a bad day for butterflies but thought it should make an effort even on a day like this since its life was not of great length.  I think the reluctant butterfly was a meadow brown – in most years a common and unremarkable species but in this year worth remarking.

On Thursday afternoon the team of window fitters had left my house and the sun was shining so I could go back to Glapthorn for another try at black hairstreaks, via Fermyn Woods to see if there were any purple emperors yet about.  There weren’t but a few speckled woods and commas showed that there was the possibility of butterfly action.  At Glapthorn there were no black hairstreaks that I could find – they may well be over by now – timing is everything.  However, a red admiral, a few ringlets, another meadow brown and quite a few large skippers made the visit worthwhile (and red kites overhead).

It’s not a great tally is it? And the weather forecast is not great. but I guess there is plenty of time for the late summer to provide great shows of chalkhill and Adonis blues, and maybe brown will recompense me for missing black hairstreak.  Maybe silver-studded blues and silver spotted skippers will be abundant. And maybe pigs, fish and squirrels will fly…

Nature is unbiddable, that’s one reason it grabs our attention.

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12 Replies to “Not great for butterflies”

  1. Think the most important thing is that you enjoyed the searching and the fact we cannot just see things for certain at any time makes the pleasure all the better when we do see them.If we see something special Ann is so excited that as soon as the bird,animal,butterfly or whatever goes you can bet she says oh I should have taken a photo.

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  2. Any butterfly venturing out here in Bristol today would need its head seeing to !

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  3. It's a known fact that tit numbers have spiralled out of control, and a single breeding pair can slaughter 10,000 caterpillars per day! They must be culled immediately!

    Our organisation: Tits Will Always Takeover, will be putting full page ads in tomorrow's Mail and Telegraph.

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  4. Coop - thanks for the laugh ! Not being good at puzzles it did take me a moment to work out the acronym.

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  5. Seen little this year, but a ton of damselflies, more than ever here.

    I blame the badgers-lol-must be there fault everything esle is!

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    1. I wonder what conditions last year or the year before (or more?) are responsible for a good damselfly hatch this year.

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  6. Vehicles doing a pretty good job of that Mark although I see some crackpots and Ben Fogle are suggesting that farmers with say 250 acres of land that hardly anyone goes on to see what is happening shoot badgers put them in their vehicles the cart them somewhere dump them by the side of the road as road casualties.
    Honestly obviously those farmers have dozens of better ways of disposing of them if they did resort to killing.
    Whatever conservationists think of farmers they should admire the fact that if any have resorted to killing badgers it is a really minuscule number and if it did happen think I would have heard somewhere along the line.It is something really unlikely as of course probably as many farmers like badgers as dislike them in fact just like the general public % wise.Of course badger groups would like to make out all farmers hate badgers and all general public are badger lovers.
    Can tell you not all badger groups and RSPCA cover themselves in glory where badgers concerned.

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  7. Leading an orchid walk yesterday afternoon, what a good year it has been for orchids, saw quite a number of marbled whites, meadow browns and ringlets.

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