Sunday 15 August 2021

Heaven, Blues

 'It's like being in heaven, isn't it,' said the cheery lady passing me on the path with her equally cheery husband. I could only agree. Who would take issue with the popular fancy that the air of heaven is jewelled with butterflies, many of them of a fittingly celestial blue? I was visiting my favourite Surrey hillside, and the air and ground were alive with blue butterflies – most of them the milky-blue Chalkhill Blues, which were flying in glorious abundance. My hope of seeing the most beautiful of all the blues, the Adonis, were soon fulfilled when I spotted a patch of that ultimate blue amid a little cluster of Chalkhills. A male Adonis had joined them in an orgiastic feeding frenzy focused on a scattering of fresh ordure. These blues do have some strange tastes, and delight in extracting desirable minerals from faeces. 
   It was a breezy morning, warm but not hot, and I wasn't at all sure I would find the other butterfly I really wanted to see – the Silver-Spotted Skipper (see Nigeness passim). A fellow enthusiast who hoved into view assured me there were some around, moving even faster than usual in the gusty wind. He was right: the first few I saw were impossible to follow, but in a lull I tracked one to the tussock where it had settled, and there it was, the little beauty – always a joy to see, and often the last species of my butterfly season (unless I get lucky with the Brown Hairstreak). What's more, today's excursion might be my last visit to the much-loved hillside from my home base nearby. I wonder if I'll be making an annual pilgrimage from Lichfield – you never know...

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