Friday 15 June 2012


With most of England still in the grip of relentless unseasonal cold, rain and wind, this is surely shaping up to the Worst Butterfly Year Ever - or perhaps since 1816, the Year without a Summer? Even if there's a turn for the better soon, serious damage will have been done to many or most of our butterflies, whatever stage of their life cycle they are at; I fancy the end-of-year reports on British butterfly populations will make sad reading...
It has certainly been, so far, my Worst Butterfly Season since I renewed my interest in the Lepidoptera. After a promising start - Brimstone, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small White, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue and Orange Tip, all by April 1st - I have added nothing to my list but the Large and Green-Veined White. Even in the rare brief interludes of more seasonal weather, little had been flying, and I am reaching the point where a single Small White seems almost an event. Indeed I am so butterfly-starved that when yesterday - having made it to Holland Park in a non-wet, non-cold,near-sunny lunch hour - I came across a Red Admiral, the happy surprise hit me with something like the force of that Purple Emperor encounter memorialised in the Dabbler the other day. The more so as I thought I wasn't going to get a close-up view. The Red Admiral was careering around above head height as if bouncing off invisible walls - more like a moth in a lighted room than a butterfly on a wooded path. I had only sporadic glimpses as it hurtled in and out of view. Then, as I went on my way, it flew back once more over my head at speed, and suddenly disappeared into a mass of ivy some way off, beside the path - could it have landed? I wasn't hopeful as I headed back to have a look - but yes, it had landed, and there it was, wings tight folded in dead-leaf mode, perfectly still now after all that racketing around (again like a disturbed moth - this sudden switch from crazy motion to stasis). And after a while,as I stood watching close up, it half-opened its wings and showed its colours in a teasing wing wink. How beautiful it is, this most ubiquitous and constant of our brighter butterflies - and how easily we take it for granted.
But not this year.

No comments:

Post a Comment