Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Again, with Differences

A year ago today, I put up a post about an end-of-season visit to my favourite Surrey hillside in search of late-flying butterflies. I could repeat that post almost word for word to describe my visit yesterday, in uncertain sunshine, to that same hillside. The differences were that there were rather fewer Meadow Browns and Small Heaths, and I saw two fewer Silver-Spotted Skippers (but to see any of those heat-loving sun-seekers was good going). However, the abundance of Adonis Blues was even more spectacular than last year, and the numbers of Brown Arguses were simply astonishing. Everywhere I looked was the celestial blue of male Adonises and the paradoxically silvery dazzle of Arguses in flight. A butterfly fancier of the Nabokovian type could have taken two or three of each at a single sweep on the net.
  It's chilling to recollect that Nabokov – who wrote so beautifully about the ecstatic joy of being among butterflies – had his net always in hand, and would kill any specimen he wished to keep by pinching its tiny thorax, folding back its wings and slipping it into a piece of folded card for safe keeping.

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