Butterflies

I haven’t mentioned Purple Emperors in this blog this year – because I haven’t been out looking for them. A combination of lots of work, lots of rain, lots of time with Henry and lots of MoT work being done on the car has meant that nipping out to see this glorious butterfly has been tricky.

But in between the rain of Friday and the rain of Sunday I set off in the sun of Saturday thinking that I was probably too late – and I was right.  Butterflies are great for reminding us to carpe diem – if you don’t then you’ll miss them.  This year, Black Hairstreaks and Purple Emperors have slipped by without me seeing them, and, as usual, Dukes of Burgundy remain off my British list of butterflies. Maybe next year – as I always say.

But there were butterflies to be seen – several White Admirals, some top-of-the-oak-trees Purple Hairstreaks (so we did have purple in our lives on this little trip) and a variety of commoner creatures, with some cracking Commas being the stars.

In the grassland there were Large Skippers and much smaller skippers, which on close examination suggested themselves to be Essex rather than Common Skippers,  but I almost always walk away wondering whether I had seen the colour of the underside of the antennae well enough to be sure.

August is the month for Adonis Blues, Silver-spotted Skippers and Brown Hairstreaks but I usually get to September without them distracting me as there is Hen Harrier Day and the Bird Fair to act as major distractions. But we’ll see – carpe diem (it the sun shines)

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4 Replies to “Butterflies”

  1. You can also distinguish Essex Skipper from Small Skipper by the shape, size and orientation of the black sex brands on the forewing of the males. In Essex Skipper it is very short, fine, straight and parallel with the leading edge of the wing whilst in the Small Skipper it is longer, a bit thicker, slightly curved and at an angle to the leading edge of the wing. Of course, this doesn't help if you are looking at a female!

    Essex Skipper has been spreading across the country for some years and this month it was discovered for the first time in County Durham, around Teesmouth.

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  2. There is something so special about one of the UK's elusive butterflies. A pair of mating Duke of Burgundys was my highlight of last year. Carpe Diem indeed!

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  3. Not a great year for butterflies for me, probably due to the weather. Black Hairstreak and Purple Emperor I've never seen although I have seen "The duke" in past years on the North York Moors not far from Snilesworth. Best this year has been a rather splendid White Letter Hairstreak feeding on hogweed below an elm. Ther's always next year.

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  4. Purple Emperors are spreading of their own volition in Eastern England - we find new colonies in our ancient woodlands and other wooded sites each year (as I discovered on the Cambs-Essex border 2 weeks ago, with glimpses of his majesty in the canopy above rides in woods I never even knew existed!). I have been out and about admiring our ancient woodlands (and their management) in Cambridgeshire and Essex over the past month, and marvelling at how many Silver-washed Fritillaries we now have, a species I never imagined I would seen every summer close to home in Cambridge as I do now - the Emperors are more like 20 miles away, though, so we need a few more years of mild weather to get them close to the city.

    Don't forget there is still one week left to participate in the Big Butterfly Count.........

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