Monday 30 September 2013


A weekend of warm autumn sunshine in the Derbyshire demiparadise (where I was on an all too brief visit), and the Great Butterfly Summer goes on. Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals were flying everywhere in glorious profusion, with Peacocks and Commas, the odd Brimstone and Speckled Wood, and even another late but bright Small Copper.
  It took a while to get going, but what a summer this has been - not another like it in years. The sheer abundance of individuals flying has seemed prodigious after such slim pickings in recent summers - like turning the clock back 20 years or so - and many species must surely have had a bumper year: Commas and Peacocks for sure, though oddly the Red Admiral didn't come into its own till high summer (for the first summer in decades I had at one point, early on, seen more Tortoiseshells than Red Admirals).
Despite the ongoing butterfly bonanza, though, I actually failed to see quite a few species that are normally on my list. Work, plus a combination of family and social commitments and the vagaries of the railway network (and the odd dull day) kept me from the most butterfly-rich haunts at the most propitious times. I saw White Admirals but not one Silver-Washed Fritillary, and several Blues I would normally have seen I missed this year - though I did have the pleasure of finding that colony of Small Blues in Dieppe. One other thing made my butterfly year truly memorable - a bizarre encounter with, of all things, a Monarch.
  If the sunny weather lasts, there should be more butterflies to be seen before the year is over - and later this week I'm off to Normandy for a few days, so who knows what I might find there? Apart from fruits de mer, Ricard, Calvados...

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