Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Meadow Brown Aberration

A trip up to Tillets Lane Fields on Monday gave me Purple Hairstreaks and Essex Skippers taking me over my target of forty species for the year. I am a couple of days behind my butterflying buddy Dave but catching up fast. We are now thinking of a final year total more in the range of forty five to forty eight.

The butterflying this year has been great fun and helps occupy those summer days when the birding is slow. I was wondering what to do once I had seen all the British butterflies - or at least all of those within easy reach of Sussex. I now have the answer - aberrations. We came across this Meadow Brown aberration in Tillets Fields.

Meadow Brown aberration  Albino - See note at end of blog

Reading up on aberrations there are about twenty six recognised aberrations for the Meadow Brown alone. We thought initially that this was ab. Cinerea but on further investigation it looks more like a cross between ab. cinerea and ab. radiata. Anyway next summer I will be out hunting aberrations, it looks far more challenging than plain ordinary butterflies.

Having said that we did not have much luck with the Purple Hairstreaks. We could see them flying at the top of the tree but they were not coming down. This, along with the White-letter Hairstreaks, now gives us two butterflies that we have seen but have been unable to get record shots for. On the positive side I did see my first Essex Skippers and a first Gatekeeper for the year at the Tillets Lane site.


Silver-washed Fritillary

and the site also has a number of moths

Swallow-tailed Moth

Tuesday and we decided on a visit to Botany Bay Wood to look for the Purple Emperors. As we arrived at the triangle there was one on the ground with a couple of people taking photographs. The Emerors seem indifferent to people being close to them but to me it brings back all the negative feelings of a twitch. Too many people and not enough connection to the nature you came to see. However, that did not stop me grabbing a couple of pictures before we moved on looking for our "own" butterfly.

We eventually saw three or possibly four Purple Emperors on the ground. None of my shots contain that purple sheen that you are always looking for. In fact looked at in isolation they look more like the duller brown colouring of the female. However, it is very unlikely that the female would be down on the ground so we must have just been unlucky with the lighting.

It was nice to meet up with Colin Baker. Its good to talk to the experts, you learn a lot from them. Have a look at his website  "Lepi-photos".

Purple Emperor

Closed wing shot

Purple Emperor

Looks so much nicer against the green background

Ringlets are everywhere at the moment but this couple in particular seemed worth recording

Ringlets mating

and this Comma recorded a couple of days ago seemed worth adding to the blog. The paler orange suggest that this is of the form hutchinsoni the result of long periods of sunlight on the caterpillars from the spring hatchings.

Comma hutchinsoni

The sun is shinning outside. Do I do a few jobs around the house, do I go out birding, or do I go out butterflying. Difficult decisions to be made, that is between at least two of the options.


Subsequent information (extracts below) from Colin Pratt, County Recorder suggests that the Meadow Brown is probably an albino rather than an abberation. and as such is probably even rarer. Can't be bad!

"Have consulted the leading man on butterfly varieties (Rupert Barrington) and your Meadow Brown is probably an albino (not a cinerea)."

"I wouldn't call it "only" an albino! The variation within your particular butterfly is far rarer than a cinerea."

1 comment:

  1. It would seem there is too much pigmentation for an albino. I have seen a handful of documented albinos in mammals and birds where some pigmentation remains, but the remaining pigment is always yellow or orange, not black and brown (melanin). Generally, we consider an albino to be entirely absent of melanin (including both eumelanins, phaeomelanins, and so forth).

    To my knowledge, an aberrant indicates any unusual patterning that results from genetics, temperature shock, or other reasons. So, even if we assume it is albino, then it is still an aberrant. I don't believe there are grounds to consider it albino -- but, I am no leading man or county recorder.