Saturday, 10 July 2010


Life being especially demanding at the moment, my outdoor world has for most of the time shrunk to one of streets, parks and gardens, and in that urban/suburban outdoors butterflies have been disappointingly few. Compared to the great Painted Lady Summer of last year, this has been - despite plenty of warm sunny weather - a poor one for us frustrated butterfly spotters (though it's good to see that the Small Tortoiseshell seems to be staging a comeback). I was sitting in the garden this morning, idly musing along these lines, when something caught my eye, flying down to a sunny patch of parched lawn. A Comma? No, too big. Far too big. As it settled, and the sunlight shone through its unmistakably patterned wings (fritillaria, a dicebox), I realised - this was, unbelievably, a Silverwashed Fritillary! The subtle colouring of the wings showed it to be a female - and she had landed in my garden, miles surely from her usual haunts. Unfortunately she had settled close to the cat, who took an ill-intentioned lunge at her. Effortlessly eluding this, the fine fritillary rose with a few powerful wing strokes and was gone, leaving me agasp. A Silverwashed Fritillary! In the garden! These are the days of miracles and wonders. I blame global warming.


  1. What a lovely thing to happen in your own garden! I've never seen one of these. I'd probably think I was hallucinating.

    This year has so far been more productive than last year on my local patch. Some kinds are up, some are down, but overall I've seen more and, interestingly, I've seen quite a lot more small tortoiseshells.

    I still think we're very lucky to enjoy nature's prodigality in crowded south-east England. My local patch is only a few fields by a river, but it holds nearly 20 different butterfly species, riches indeed.

  2. You're so right Mark - it's wonderful how such seemingly fragile creatures hang on in such apparently unpromising terrain...
    And there's a new twist to the fritillary tale - I saw my brother yesterday (up on the Berks/Oxon border) and one of the first things he said to me was - yes, you guessed - he had a silverwashed frit in his garden that morning too! As with me, the first time ever. More butterfly synchronicity.

  3. I haven't seen many butterflies at all in London so far this Summer. However, a forest bug landed on my window the other day - which is curious because I've never heard anyone describe Wandsworth as 'leafy'.

  4. Oh yes I love those bugs! We get green ones round here...