Monday 20 July 2015

Galorious Abundance

Well, what a difference a change in the weather can make. A few weeks ago, I was lamenting how few butterflies were on the wing, despite mostly dry and sunny weather through May and June - dry and sunny but simply not warm enough. Now, however, we have had a few mostly warm/hot weeks - and oh the difference... Down in Sussex at the weekend, I took a morning stroll around a former meadow that is now edged with brambles, ragwort and drifts of purple thistles, and the sheer abundance of butterflies was quite wonderful to behold. Huge numbers of Skippers (Small and Large), Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Ringlets galore were flying, along with Tortoiseshells, Commas, Peacocks, Painted Ladies, Red Admirals, Small Coppers (my first of the year), Marbled Whites (plus [the unrelated] Large, Small and Green-Veined), Common Blues - and, as a glorious surprise, a passing White Admiral gliding majestically over the scene. This was more like it - this was butterfly abundance on the kind of scale I remember from boyhood summers. All thanks to warm sun - and the benign neglect of a meadow. As the Met Office has just issued a dire forecast of grim weather coming our way, I'm sure we can look forward to this glorious sun continuing to shine.


  1. According to my plastic bucket (carelessly left behind a bush five weeks ago) there has been three inches of rain in the borders, consequently the butterfly population is somewhat minimalist. Once again Nige, the north-south divide rears it's head. However, the bird population is in fine fettle, the bird feeding station a hive of activity, even the Redpoll, a rare sight, are feeding their young on the (overpriced) seed and fat balls and the flycatchers have abandoned their hunting instinct and become farmers, a pair of swifts, once again occupying an old shed, are feeding on the wing, the three chicks occasionally sitting, line abreast, on the chimney, supplementing their diet are the infamous midge, who, because of the wet weather are out and about en masse, discouraged only by the application of copious amounts of Avon's finest product.

  2. Similar experiences here over the past few days during a walk through some meadows along the Thames which are left wild and fallow. Clouds of butterflies along the hedgerows and margins. And, a couple of days earlier, purple emperors, purple hairstreaks and silver-washed fritillaries in a nearby wood. The last ten days or so have been superb.

  3. Yes it looks as if this is shaping up to being the 3rd good butterfly summer in recent years - at least in the South, and at least in high summer. And happily the swifts seem to be abundant here too - haven't seen so many in a while. I blame global warming. Of course.