Friday, 23 May 2014

Glanville Fritillary

The Glanville Fritillary is named after Eleanor Glanville, an ecentric 17th and 18th century English butterfly enthuisiast - a very unusual occupation for a woman at that time. She was the first to capture British specimens in Lincolnshire during the 1690s. A contemporary wrote:-

This fly is named for Eleanor Glanvil, whose memory had like to have suffered for her curiosity. Some relations that was disappointed by her Will, attempted to let it aside by Acts of Lunacy, for they suggested that none but those who were deprived of their senses, would go in pursuit of butterflies.           Moses Harris 1776

The population has shrunk a little since those days. Now the only reliable place to see them is on the south coast of the Isle of Wight. There have been small colonies reported on the mainland at Hurst Castle, Wrecclesham in Surrey, and in the Avon Gorge but I have not seen any reports of these so far this year. That leaves Hutchinson's Bank near Croydon as the only reported sightings on the mainland. These are probably the result of a relocated population by a member of the public from the Wrecclesham site.

Hutchinson's Bank is certainly a promising butterflying location with 29 reported species. I searched it for a couple of hours today but only managed to come up with one Glanville and I only had that for about 30 seconds. I was momentarily distracted by a Jay flying through and when I turned back it was gone never to be found again. The second I took my eyes off it I knew I had made a mistake but it was too late. Fortunately the 30 seconds was long enough to get a couple of record shots.

Glanville Fritillary (Female)

Glanville Fritillary

Strange to think that if I could only find this one butterfly it may well have been the only one of its kind flying in mainland UK today.

Hutchinson's bank also yielded a number of Common Blue and Speckled Wood, two Small Heath, two Dingy Skippers, one Small Blue, one Peacock, and dozens of Brimstones. There seems to be large numbers of Brimstones at every site I visit.


Common Blue

Common Blue

Speckled Wood

I also stopped off at Mill Hill NR to look for the Adonis Blue. The photographs never seem to reproduce the vivid colours you see on the Adonis in the field.

Adonis Blue

Adonis Blue female

Green Hairstreak
Small Heath

Still no sign of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary in Sussex

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