Wednesday 23 March 2016

Day of the Brimstone

After many days of cloud, gloom and cold here in the suburban demiparadise, yesterday was, for a wonder, sunny and bright, with a spring-like warmth in the air. Maybe today, I thought as I set out for Cheam, I'll see my first Brimstone of the year. And so I did, rather sooner than I expected - a bright and handsome male was flying East along the high street of Carshalton, zipping along in the typical fast-moving, zigzagging manner of the newly awakened Brimstone renewing his acquaintance with the world. Having checked out the Fox and Hounds, he headed off down Westcroft Road towards the Grove park...
 This heart-lifting sight - marking the true beginning of spring and of the butterfly year - was to be repeated no fewer than seven times in as many minutes in the course of my short train journey. The ivy-clad embankments were alive with patrolling Brimstones - and there were to be more when I got to Cheam: one flying along the village high street there (spotted from inside Waitrose), then two more in the course of my short walk to my son's house, where another one flew past as soon as I got there. That makes to total of 12, a round dozen, in little more than an hour - I don't remember when I last saw so many in such a short time, let alone on the day of their first appearance. Let's hope it is a sign of an abundant butterfly year to come.

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