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.