Sunday, 8 May 2016

Green Day

The sun drew me back to the Surrey Hills today, and this time I had a plan: I'd take the long path through the woods to my destination, rather than the more exposed and frequented North Downs Way. I duly set off into the woods... and duly emerged, following a rudimentary map-reading error, about ten minutes later - onto, of course, the North Downs Way, just round the corner from where I'd started.
 Ah well. I resigned myself to this turn of events and stayed on the contour-hugging path above Denbies vineyard, with its wonderful wide views - and there, on the grassy bank to my right, was... a Green Hairstreak - the very butterfly I had set out to find. A beautiful specimen it was too, fluttering along, showing green and brown, green and brown - that green always startling, unique among British butterflies, an almost emerald, almost iridescent green, with a thin vein of silvery white (the 'hairstreak') running through it. It posed briefly, wings folded, on a leaf, green on green, and I stood - or rather crouched - in lepidopteral ecstasy. My first Green Hairstreak of the year - my first in, I think, four years - and I wasn't to see another for the rest of the day, though I did see my first Red Admiral (ridiculously late), Small Heaths (in cheery profusion) and a couple of bright and early Common Blues.
 The happy twist of fate that blessed me with a Green Hairstreak today convinced me that this is going to be my Year of the Hairstreak, the year in which I see them all, from Green to Brown by way of White-Letter, Black and Purple. Well, that's my plan.

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