Sunday 13 November 2011

First and Last

After much cloud and rain during the week, the sun appeared today (at least here in the Southeast) is no uncertain fashion, blazing down from an enamel blue sky, generating an almost summerlike heat - in mid-November! Walking on Ashtead Common, I thought this warmth would probably have brought out the odd late butterfly, and so it proved. I hadn't been there long when a Red Admiral swept past, flying strongly into the sun's dazzle, where I lost him. Then, a little later, beside the path, flying about a bramble patch, I spotted a Brimstone. It was a female - the wings that beautiful greenish tint, rather than the sulphur yellow of the male - and she settled for some while on a bramble leaf, wings closed, trembling as if in a wind, though there was none. After several minutes, she took off again, pottering about the bramble patch, never quite settling, then finally weaving away into the woods. She was probably my last butterfly of the year (though you never know when you're going to encounter a Red Admiral). If so, a year that began with a Brimstone falling like an autumn leaf ends, fittingly, with a Brimstone rising from an autumn leaf and flying away...
Later, as I left the common, I saw - and heard- my first Fieldfares of the year. A party of half a dozen of these beautiful winter visitors were flying noisily from tree to tree - and wondering, no doubt, what has happened to the British weather.

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