Thursday, 11 July 2019

My Friends, It Was a...

Yes, it was a Purple Hairstreak, and I really wasn't expecting it so early in the month, but it was a wonderful thing to see. I was on Mitcham Common this morning, and there it was, settled on a leaf of the first oak I came across as I arrived on the common proper. It posed helpfully, just above my eye level, showing first its beautiful underwing and then a flash of upperwing with its telltale flush of purple. I didn't see another; I think it was a precursor of abundance to come.
  The common was gloriously alive with butterflies, mostly those grassland species that have come surging back after taking a bit of a knock last year when the extreme heat scorched the grasses – this year the grass is tall and lush. I was vaguely hoping that I might see a White-Letter Hairstreak, as Mitcham Common is supposed to be one of its hangouts, but in my wanderings I didn't even come across a single elm tree – the White-Letter's food plant and living space – let alone a representative of this elusive species. I think it's one of those butterflies that you'll never find if you go looking for it, but you might come across by chance in some unlikely place. If you're lucky. Meanwhile that unexpected Purple was delight enough.