Tuesday 30 April 2019

A Flying Start

The last day of April, and my first outing of the year to my favourite butterfly haunt in the Surrey Hills. I set out in sunshine but arrived, as often happens, in cloud, which only gradually gave way to intermittent sun. My hopes were not high, but when the weather conditions are like this it can work to the butterfly watcher's advantage: in the absence of sustained sunlight, the butterflies are sluggish, taking only short, energy-conserving flights, and settling readily. If they're flying at all, that is – and, praise be, they were.
  It began when I all but trod on a basking Small Copper – and a very bright and beautiful one (with several more to follow). Then came my first Small Heaths of the year – always a cheering sight – and, soon after, the first of a dozen and more Dingy Skippers. A bit later, a little dull-looking moth-like thing settled nearby and I realised I'd just spotted my first Grizzled Skipper. I always forget just how tiny these little beauties are, and how their appearance in flight belies the beauty of their spread wings, dark brown spangled with creamy white and fringed
with tiny hairs. After that came one more gem – a Green Hairstreak, which posed perfectly with its emerald underwings on show.
This was followed by two more, both of which posed equally obligingly. I think that's as many Green Hairstreaks as I've ever seen in one year, let alone one day – and the same goes for the Grizzled Skippers (I saw four). A wonderfully rewarding day – and it means I've now seen sixteen species this year, before May! I don't think I've ever done that before.
I also saw – and managed to photograph – this beautifully marked moth, a Mother Shipton. It's so-called because each forewing carries what looks like the classic caricature profile of a witch, all nose and chin. See her? She's looking down from the top edge of the wing...


  1. Great photos. Thanks. Oh to be in England now that etc etc.

  2. Thanks Barney. Have to admit only the bottom photo is my own – most butterflies are incredibly difficult to catch on camera, unless you really know what you're doing. Which I don't.