Tuesday 20 November 2012

They Dance

It's all Peter's fault. His comment below yesterday's post got me thinking about dancing butterflies. Not that I hadn't already been thinking about butterflies. I'd been doing what I quite often do at this time of year, visualising a sunny, flowery downland slope, dotted with wild marjoram and knapweed, hawkweed and scabious, and butterflies dancing from flower to flower - there you go: dancing.They do dance - well, most of them. Some, like the Large White and Meadow Brown, do little more than flop around in the air, and one or two - such as the seldom seen Mountain Ringlet - barely bother to take flight at all. At the other end of the scale, the Skippers dart about at such speed, in straight lines and zigzags, that they can scarcely be said to dance. On the other hand, most of the Blues and Browns - and Marbled Whites (pictured) - of downland and meadows have a dainty dancing flight, especially when they're deciding where to touch down. But woodlands are home to the most graceful dancers, with the power swooping of the Silver-washed Fritillary and the more elegant gliding of my favourite, the White Admiral - not to mention the ever present Speckled Woods, dancing in and out of the dappled sunlight that their wings so perfectly mimic, or rising in pairs, fight-dancing in an ascending double helix. These are cheering summer images for the butterflyless months - and here are more dancing butterflies (foreigners alas, but some quite nearly resembling our own White Admiral). Enjoy.


  1. These are wonderful pictures. Of the species near where I live, I would put the gatekeeper up with the speckled wood. They are common here and always have a slightly silly, puppy-like energy, never settling for long. I'm with you on the marbled whites: I love seeing them, they are an event. Of the others, I rarely see a white admiral, but there are lots of skippers, ringlets and commas in season, all dancing differently.

  2. Nige, your blog is electronic prozac!

  3. Beautiful. One never tires of dancing birds and butterflies. Truly a gift that keeps on giving. Not so, I fear, with dancing and singing humans, who reach their sell-by dates all too quickly. ("Oh Gawd, not Rigoletto again! Honey, let's just grab the bananas and get out of here.")

    You may find lithe dancers in libraries inspiring, Nige, but I gravitated quickly to the elderly gent beside her with his back to the camera. I saw him trying to find quiet spiritual or aesthetic fulfillment in some learned tome after a life of care and worry, only to be set upon by a young doxy who took time out from her Harlequin romance to interrupt him with unasked for joy and spontaneity. No doubt in her day job she is a social worker who press gangs seniors into long marches around shopping malls. I'll bet he'd thank you for birds and butterflies, though.

  4. I like the look of the old fellow too - I like to think of him as a humorous, bookish Brooklyn Jew, who'll go home to his loving wife that evening, hang up his hat and say 'Honey, you'll never guess what happened to me in the Public Library today...'

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