Monday, 16 May 2016

Marsh Fritillary

With our trip to Portland this morning delivering a life tick on the Great Spotted Cuckoo we moved on to Cotley Hill in the afternoon for the Marsh Fritillaries. 

They have been lost from the South East and I think that Cotley Hill is now the nearest place to home, where we have a chance of seeing them. Last year we arrived too late in the season and the butterflies were past their best. Although they are a weak flyer, they seem to damage easily and worn specimens take on a greasy appearance. One of the old names for them is the Greasy Fritillary.

This year we were looking for newly emerged specimens and we seem to have timed it just right.


In most of the country the Marsh Fritillary inhabits damp wet areas but in a few places on the downs like Cotley they exist on dry grassy slopes. Given that it can survive on such varied habitat it is difficult to see why it is in such serious decline.


You need sunshine to be able to find them. As soon as the sun goes behind the clouds the Marsh Fritillary drops into the grass and will often bury itself deep out of sight.



 Last year we had them nectaring a lot more but I expect this early in the season they are more intent on finding a partner for breeding.

It was the Marsh Fritillary that had drawn us to Cotley Hill but it is a good site for other butterflies as well. We saw Grizzled and Dingy Skippers, Common Blue, Green Hairstreaks, Meadow Brown, and a couple of Wall Brown.

Female Common Blue - perhaps unusual in tending more towards the blue/grey than the usual brown

Grizzled Skipper

Dingy Skipper

Wall Brown

Wall Brown

Some great pictures of the Marsh Frits and a new first for me. The first time I have produced two blogs from one day out. It's so much easier when you have interesting subjects and you manage to get some good pictures.


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