Friday 25 August 2017

All This Useless Beauty

Today was a warm and sunny day at last, after altogether too many cloudy ones, so I headed straight for Box Hill in the hope of seeing an Adonis Blue or two.
 I've written before about this dazzlingly beautiful little butterfly - arguably our most beautiful, at least for fans of the colour blue (like me). No other British butterfly is so intensely blue - it's like the iridescent blue of those big Morpho butterflies that grace every tropical butterfly house, but subtler, and often tending towards turquoise. The Adonis Blue is quite unmistakable (and unphotographable), and always a thrilling sight to see - and today I was blessed with a prodigious abundance of them. In the fields below the Box Hill viewpoint, so many were flying that I gave up counting - if I'd carried on, I'd have been well into triple figures by the time I headed back to the viewpoint and down the leisurely dip slope.
 I've never in my life seen so many Adonis Blues, or anything like as many. This was an afternoon to remember - one to inspire, in Nabokov's words about the ecstatic joy of being among butterflies, 'a thrill of gratitude to whom it may concern'. And there were even some slightly battered Chalkhill Blues as well - my first of the year.
 As if that wasn't enough, as I got off the return train, I looked up into the afternoon sky and saw a plane laying a vapour trail that happened to bisect the faintly visible new moon. As I was enjoying this sight, a familiar shape flew into view - a swift! Surely my last of the year.


  1. Nice day out for you then.. makes me feel I ought to acquaint myself with your Brit Butterflies. Recommend a book? Thanks. NBR

  2. J.A. Thomas's Guide to Butterflies of Britain and Ireland (Phillips) is the best. They're an easy study as there are only 60-odd species.

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  4. I thank you, sir. It is one of the most remarkable features of this septic isle that people like you are willing to share your knowledge even with people like myself who can't even lay claim to being a True Brit