Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Duke of Burgundy

Good conditions for butterflying this morning. About 13°C with broken clouds and sunny spells. A good chance of finding butterflies before they became too active and an opportunity to improve on my year list.

First Stop was Rewell Wood for the Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. I always find the Pearl-bordered here but it sometimes takes some searching. Fortunately I was on a working party in the wood about 18 months ago cutting scallops for the butterflies to move into and it seemed like a good place to start.

There was nothing moving when I got there but then the sun came out and they began to appear. I think about twenty five sightings with a max of five butterflies in the air at any one time. It looks like another good year for the Pearl-bordered.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary

The pearls are on the underside of the wing but with these butterflies just warming up none would oblige with a closed wing shot. The problem is that once they warm up they become very active. They move quickly, they do not put down much, and they have a habit of just disappearing in front of your eyes. So I decided to cut my losses and move on.

Next stop was Kithurst Hill to look for the Duke of Burgundy. No rush here, the Dukes are late risers and it's not worth looking much before eleven o'clock. Fortunately I found a Green Hairstreak to keep me busy, my first of the year,

Green Hairstreak

and there were a few Dingy Skippers flying in the meadow.

Dingy Skipper

The Dukes are easy butterflies to photograph. They do not fly very fast or very far and they usually return to the same small territory where they are happy to sit whilst you take your pictures. But don't be fooled, anything flies into their territory, particularly another Duke and they are off in hot pursuit.

Duke of Burgandy

The Dukes are the only members of the Metalmark family to be found in Europe. They were in serious decline but the last couple of years has seen them expanding their territory in southern England. Butterfly Conservation and its teams of volunteers are restoring habitat along the downs and the butterflies seem to be taking advantage of the opportunity.

Only one Blue seen today, a Holy Blue passing through the meadow. Traditionally I see the Dukes and Pearl-bordered on the same day in early May and I usually manage to find a Small Blue at the same time. No such luck this year.

Holly Blue

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