Sunday, 16 May 2010
Back from the Glorious Consort
In the Peak District, spring was even farther behind than it is in the South, and proceeding at a still more leisurely pace. The result is a glorious consort of flowering, with bluebells, cowslips, violets, windflowers, forget-me-nots, campion, periwinkle, celandine, wild garlic, storksbill, sweet cicely and jack by the hedge all in abundant flower together, while the cherry trees are still hung with blossom and the horse chestnut candles are at their brightest. The lilac was only just opening yesterday when, with the utmost reluctance, I headed south from Derbyshire, back to London (where the lilac will soon be, as Geoffrey Hilll describes it, 'turned overnight a rough tobacco brown'). It was a wonderful, soul-restoring break - and along the way, I made two happy 'spots': beside a woodland path, a pale weird leafless spike of ragged flowers, a Broomrape of some kind, I think Toothwort, parasitic on hazel roots - and, on grassland at a disused quarry, the butterfly illustrated above, the Dingy Skipper. A single male was flying in the usual elusive manner of skippers, but paused to bask, wings open, long enough for my brother to photograph it in close-up (that's not his picture above, though). Dingy it may be, but it has its subtle moth-like beauty, and is becoming increasingly rare. Otherwise, most of the butterflies to be seen were jolly Orange Tips. They would have been enough.