Monday, 5 August 2013

Butterfly Bonanza

Like the rest of the world, I'm sure, I am still struggling to digest the full implications of the earth-shattering, epoch-defining news - as announced in a typically understated 30-minute special by the BBC last night - that another actor is to take over the lead role in Doctor Who. When I feel able to, I shall post my considered response to this development...
  Meanwhile, this glorious Butterfly Summer goes on giving. On a routine walk to and from the shops on Saturday morning - when it was not spectacularly sunny or hot, and I was making no particular butterfly-spotting effort - I saw a Peacock, a Red Admiral, two Commas, a Common Blue, three Painted Ladies and a Speckled Wood, as well as innumerable Whites (Small and Large) and Gatekeepers, and two Jersey Tigers (day-flying moths, quite easily mistaken, in flight, for Painted Ladies). A Sunday morning walk a little further afield added Green-Veined White, Meadow Brown, Small Skipper and Ringlet to the list. It's been years since I saw that many species, all at once, so close to home - but what is most wonderful about this summer is the sheer abundance, the prodigious numbers of individuals flying. You can't walk many yards without one or more flying into - or out of - view, starting up from the ground or a nearby leaf, or even (as happened to me yesterday with a Red Admiral) settling on your clothes. It takes me back to the long ago summers of my boyhood...
  This year's abundance of butterfly life demonstrates the simple fact that butterflies (or nearly all of them) require warm/hot, dry and sunny weather if they are to thrive. The recent decline of most of our species surely has far more to do with the dismal run of harsh winters and cool wet summers than anything else. If the warmists' predictions has turned out to be accurate and we were indeed to be in for reliably mild winters and scorching summers, it would have been very good news for our sun-starved butterflies.

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