Saturday, 27 May 2017


Having visited one local nature reserve that I'd located but failed to enter last year, I thought I'd chance my arm with one that I last year failed even to locate. This time, I'm happy to say, I found it, and was rewarded with an abundance of that dusky little beauty (our smallest butterfly), the Small Blue. It can reasonably be described as 'rare' and is certainly 'threatened', but if you find it at all, you're likely to find it in considerable numbers. That was certainly the case today; in an hour or two's wandering around this (un'improved' grassland) reserve, I saw scores of them - sometimes a dozen or more in view at one time amid the grass or nectaring on flowers, some fluttering about, some mating, many contentedly settled out of the wind, doing nothing. I also saw my first Small Copper of the year, feeding eagerly on an umbel of Ground Elder, that beautiful, much-maligned 'weed' - and a single Brown Argus and an early Large Skipper...
 Every year, the miracle begins again - the butterflies appear, first the hibernators that have survived the rigours of winter, then the newly emerged spring fliers, then the great surge of summer butterflies, and finally the late fliers of autumn, the last we'll see before the great winter disappearance and the bleak butterflyless months. And every year the butterfly season unfolds in a different way - no two years are the same. That is one of the things that makes butterfly watching in this country, where so many species have but a tenuous hold, such a particular bittersweet delight.