Saturday, 18 September 2021

Ending on a High

 Well, my butterfly season – which, for various reasons, has been a rather patchy one – ended today with a glorious surprise. I was taking a stroll on Epsom downs, with no particular end in mind but enjoying the autumn sunshine, when, in one of the scruffy spinneys that line the fairways of the golf course that has, deplorably, taken over so much of the downland, I spotted a butterfly settling about ten feet up in a large dogwood bush. At first glimpse, I thought it was a Speckled Wood (there are lots of them around this autumn, after a thin summer). Then, as I drew nearer, I saw orange patches on the forewings – a belated Gatekeeper? No, the orange was too bright, and the brown ground colour too rich. Could it be...?
  Oh yes, it could. It was a female Brown Hairstreak! Excuse my exclamation mark, but this is one highly elusive butterfly, notoriously hard to find. This fine specimen – so late in the year – was in tiptop condition, and spent several minutes cruising from one sunny perch to another in the leafy undergrowth, showing off its hairstreaked golden underwings, before flying up and away through the trees. I watched in a state of aurelian ecstasy, failing as ever to get a photograph – but who cares? The Brown Hairstreak – as usual appearing from nowhere and in a wholly unlikely location – had delivered me another grand surprise, another glorious end-of-season gift. 

1 comment:

  1. Nor was that the end. On the 25th Sept. I spotted another female flying in the front garden of the block of flats where my grandmother once lived, just round the corner from my house. The Brown Hairstreak is becoming a suburbanite!