Sunday 14 August 2016

This Is Getting Ridiculous

There I was this morning, strolling around my little local nature reserve /  ecology centre, enjoying the company of a few Speckled Woods and Gatekeepers. Finding my favourite bench unoccupied, I sat down, and after a few minutes a brown butterfly flew down and settled a few feet away in the grass. It looked like a Gatekeeper, and yet not quite, so I went to investigate - and realised when I saw it closer up that this was, of all things, a male Brown Hairstreak! I say 'of all things' because to see this elusive species at all is, to quote Butterflies of Surrey Revisited, 'one of the most difficult tasks for a butterfly enthusiast' - and nearly all those that are seen close up are females.
 Like the White-Letter Hairstreak on that memorable day in Nonsuch Park, this specimen appeared from nowhere and tarried long enough for me to make a definite identification, obligingly showing both his upperside and beautiful golden underside. He only flew off when, like a fool, I tried to photograph him. I stood slack-jawed with amazement... This kind of thing never happens, and yet it's happened to me twice this summer. Truly this is the Year of the Hairstreak.
 Incidentally my White-Letter post has had more visits than any other post of recent years. I've no idea why - there can't be all that many Hairstreak obsessives out there. Perhaps it's related to the curious fact that this blog is now more popular in Russia than anywhere else, with Norway sliding way down the charts. All very odd.

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