Monday 15 April 2013


Yesterday was really warm - at last - though much of the warmth was blown in on a gusty South wind, giving a curious blustery seaside feel to the inland day. As things turned out, I didn't make it into the country, but I was rewarded anyway with the sight of more Brimstones flying, and, basking on ivy beside the path that leads to the railway station - a beautiful, velvety Comma, newly emerged from hibernation and so intent on soaking up the sun that it was still on the same leaf when I returned half an hour later. The Comma is, like the Peacock and many another butterfly, a fine example of protective patterning taken to such a pitch that it seems more like a form of art: the ragged edge perfectly rhyming a tattered leaf, the dark, subtly toned underside completing the illusion - and then the 'comma' itself, the little curl of silvery white, like light shining through a tiny tear in the leaf...
   Happily, the Comma is one British butterfly that has dramatically bucked the trend of long decline through the 20th and into the 21st century. It suffered its own decline - a steep one, cause unknown - in the 19th century, and by the 1920s was a scarce species, largely confined to the Welsh border country. Ever since the 1960s, however, the Comma has been staging a spectacular comeback, spreading across the whole of England and Wales, and recently into Scotland. Last year, I don't think I saw an early Comma - maybe it won't be such a dire butterfly year after all? Here's hoping.

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